Biography

Csaba Szabó
Curriculum vitae
1936-2003

Csaba Szabó: composer, musicologist and professor was born in 1936 in Ákosfalva, Maros-Torda county (Transylvania). He completed his secondary studies at the Music School of Marosvásárhely. His teachers were László Csikí and József Trózner - former student of Stöller and Franz Schmidt at the Wien Music Academy.

He earned his degree in Kolozsvár at the G. Dima Music Academy in 1959, in the composition faculty. His professors were the former Kodály students Gábor Jodál and János Jagamas.

He started his career as the conductor of the Székely Folk Ensemble from Marosvásárhely. 
As a composer he contributed to the development of the Ensemble's repertoire between 1957-1967, until he left this Ensemble. He became the professor of the István Szentgyörgyi Dramatic Art Institute in 1963, where he taught musical theory, music history and "rhythms/cadences and intonation of Hungarian speech" until 1987.

He was a member of the Romanian Composers and Musicologists' Association between 1961-1987. For six years between 1979-1986 he was the leader of the Marosvásárhely branch of the Association.

When he reported his resettlement intention to the competent Romanian authority, he was removed from his position at the Dramatic Art Institute, and his compositions were cancelled from the national repertoire (under Ceausescu’s dictatorship).

Moving to Hungary in 1988, until his death on 23rd of May, 2003, he was the professor of the Szombathely Dániel Berzsenyi College.

His life and activity attached him to two countries - Romania (Transylvania) and Hungary - but one motherland and one vocation: his duty to the world-famous Hungarian musical education system. Like his professors and masters, he did not separate the different forms of musical education: composership, performing art, scientific and pedagogic work. Considering these principles, his work was multifaceted: he was working as a composer, musicologist, folk music researcher, teacher and conductor.

His orientation as a composer and musicologist was determined by his own heritage of Hungarian folk music and tradition. His mission was - similarly to that of Kodaly and Bartok - to serve this unique tradition, to transfer it to the next generation as intact as possible, via education and research.

Until 1987, he was very active in the different fields of Romanian public musical life. He published various reviews, articles - mainly in the Romanian press, but also in Hungarian journals - and musicologist review books. In addition to this, he also gave various lectures on the topics of folk music, music history and music education in Romania, Hungary, France and the USA.

From the 1960s until the mid 70s, he was a member of the editorial board of the Transylvanian -Hungarian journal "Culture" ("Művelődés"). He was a key player in organising choir festivals and professional courses (Choir Festivals from Nyárád mente, Küküllő mente.)
Regarding the organisation of courses for continued music education, this was also under the umbrella of the "Művelődés", organised under the name: "Árkosi találkozó".

Csaba Szabó was in good contact with the theatres in Transylvania. He wrote accompanying music to the works by János Arany, József Katona, Mihály Vörösmarty, András Sütő, Andor Bajor and others. His works were regularly performed in the context of the mini festival called "Musical Days from Marosvásárhely".

In 1978 he won the prize of the Romanian Composers' Union with his composition for Soprano and Orchestra: Five Songs on poems by Jenő Dsida.

In 1977 he published as an editor the book "Musicologist writings" ("Zenetudományi Írások"). In the very same year he published the educational title "How to teach contemporary music?". Later, in 1980 this was followed by the title "Music and service", published by Kriterion.

In 1982 he presented his analysis of Hungarian folk music: "The pentaton series of Hungarian folk music" at the Kodály symposium in Budapest.

Between 1986-1988 he worked on the recording and notation of a Csángó Hungarian Folk Music Collection, which was published together with András Seres, by the Héttorony publishing house in 1990, under the title "Csángó Magyar Daloskönyv" (1972-1988 Moldva). This collection is one of the largest (390 songs, 570 pages) csángó folk music, serving an important role in preserving the authentic folk music of the Hungarians living in Moldova (Romania).

In 1999 he won the Gold Prize of the Hungarian Artistic Academy - Millennium Competition with the work entitled: "Transylvanian Hungarian Harmonic Songs from the XVIIIth Century". The three volumes of the work - with three hundred pages of facsimile - is a unique material, which has an immense historic value. The music presented and analysed in this work is an important representative of both Hungarian and European canonic universal culture.

In this work the author describes and analyses the canonic folk-polyphonic songs of the Hungarian reformed church. The relevance and consequences of this discovery are multifold - especially considering the potential revival of this culture. This work was published on a CD-ROM, by the Balassi Publishing House.

His last academic work, published in 2002, was entitled "Contribution to the topic of prosody in folk music". This is an extensive analysis of the prosody of different folk songs and mood expressions, linked to the various occasions of life: mourning songs, celebrations and other folk songs. The work encourages further analyses of the prosody of Hungarian folk music.

His compositions are: choral works, songs, chamber music and symphonic works, masses and stage music.