Life and Work
András Benkő (21. 01. 1923., Feiurdeni, Cluj county, Romania – 03. 04. 2001., Cluj): Music historian, university teacher, Doctor of Musicology
He began high school in Aiud, at the Gabriel Bethlen College (having Géza Szabó as organ teacher), and then graduated in Cluj-Napoca at the pedagogical institute named after Péter Pál Domokos (1944).
Higher level studies in music: Hungarian College of Music and Theater (1946-1948), Hungarian Institute of Art (1948-1950) majoring in music teaching and organ, degree in music teaching (1951) from the “Gh. Dima” Conservatory of Music that today is called Gheorghe Dima Music Academy.
He began his career as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Music History of the Hungarian Institute of Art (1949-1950), and from that year onwards he worked as assistant lecturer, then lecturer at the Gh. Dima Academy of Music, where later he became senior lecturer, a position he held until retirement (1985). He taught subjects related to church music (singing church songs, the methodology of teaching church singing, hymnology, and the history of church music) at the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca and at the Faculty of Reformed Theology of the Babeş-Bolyai University (1990-1998).
He has been a Doctor of musicology since 1977. Dissertation: Bartók and Romania (in Romanian language, “Gh. Dima” Music Academy, Cluj-Napoca).
His musicological work focused mainly on the musical past of Transylvania and the history of Hungarian music in Romania. He has published numerous articles in the domain of music journalism since he was a student: his concert reports, critiques, informative articles appeared on the pages of publications like Igazság (Truth – newspaper), Utunk (Our Way – weekly magazine specialized in literature, art and critique), A Hét (The Week – weekly magazine with social, philological and art profile), Culture, Székely Útkereső (Pathfinder of the Székely – monthly publication in social, cultural and belletristic domain), etc. His studies in music history were published in Korunk (Our Age – publication specialized mostly in social sciences), NyIRK (Studies and Research in Linguistic and Literature – periodically published by the BBU from Cluj), Református Szemle (Reformed Review – the official theological journal of the Transylvanian Reformed Churches and the Romanian Lutheran Church), Magyar Egyházzene (Hungarian Church Music – specialty publication from Budapest), as well as in volumes of specialty studies: Zenetudományi Írások (Writings in the Science of Music), Zenetudományi Tanulmányok (Studies in Musicology) – (Budapest), Lucrări de Muzicologie (Writings in Musicology), Studii de muzicologie (Studies in Musicology), Bartók Dolgozatok (Studies of Bartók), Utunk Kodályhoz (Our Road to Kodály), Kodály történet (Kodály’s Story), Korunk Almanach, etc.
Bartók Béla romániai hangversenyei (Béla Bartók’s Concerts in Romania – 1970). In this book, he assesses the press coverage of the Romanian concerts of the pianist Bartók making a full and complete review.
A Bolyaiak zeneelmélete (The Music Theory of the Bolyais – 1975).
Seprődi János válogatott zenei írásai és népzenei gyűjtése (Selected Writings in Music and the Folklore Collection of János Seprődi – 1974, editor, co-authors: István Lakatos and István Almási).
Zenei kislexikon (Small Music Lexicon – Kriterion, Bucharest, 1986) – it helps you find your way around in the domain with about 6,000 pieces of information
Zoltán Aladár (Aladár Zoltán – Mentor, Târgu Mureș, 1996)
Az egyházi ének története (The History of Church Singing – Cluj-Napoca, 1994): outlines the development of the hymnology in the Reformed Church primarily for the use of students interested in becoming church music teachers and cantors.
Mondjatok dícséretet (Give Praise – Cluj-Napoca, 2000). (The first part of the volume is a revised and completed version of the volume published in 1994).
Albert Márkos (manuscript)
A zene szolgálatában. A muzsikus Lakatos István (manuscript)
College Notes and Courses: Az egyetemes zene története (The History of Universal Music – Volumes I-III in machine-copied versions, the IV. volume is in manuscript).
He also edited the volumes of studies Zenetudományi írások (Writings of Musicology – 1980, 1983, 1986). He was a collaborator of the Hungarian Institute of Musicology working on the series with the title “History of Music in Hungary”.
He compiled the bibliography of János Seprődi, István Lakatos, Aladár Zoltán and Albert Márkos (he published about four thousand titles from this material). He published many letters from the correspondence of Gábor Bethlen, Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and George Breazul, making formerly unpublished material available for the readers. He revealed formerly unknown data from the music history of Bistrita from the XVIth century. He presented and reviewed songbook manuscripts (Sámuel Almási’s collection from 1823-71, Csokonai songs from Manuscript collections in Cluj-Napoca, manuscripts of songbooks with material for mourning), he processed the music and musicology related legacy of János Apáczai Csere, János Bolyai, János Seprődi. He wrote the first biographic study about Gábor Veress. He also researched some issues of musical language (B-A-C-H motif in contemporary music, the occurrence of peon metre – as in: classical Greek metre – in Beethoven’s work, sound set problems, etc.).
Kórusaink történetéből (From the History of Our Choirs) was a series broadcasted by Radio Cluj-Napoca. Its written version was published on the pages of the Művelődés (Culture – monthly publication).
Lexicography: the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London) – listings, articles in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Hungarian Literature in Romania (volumes I-V).
He was a member of the Composers’ and Musicologists’ Union of Romania (UCMR), from 1948 until its dissolution (1949), secretary of the “Béla Bartók” Music Association, founding member and first president of the Society of Hungarian Musicians of Romania, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, member of the Transylvanian Museum Society, member of the Music Committee of the Transylvanian Reformed Church District, member of the Association of the Reformed Musicians, of the Hymnological Committee of the Hungarian Reformed Church, member of the Bolyai Society from Cluj-Napoca, of the Hungarian Music Association of Romania, and the János Seprődi International Choir Association.
Honors and Awards:
Művelődési Érdemrend – Order of Merit for Culture (Class III, 1968)
Bartók-plakett – Bartók Plaquette (1981)
Román Zeneszerző Szövetség díja – Prize of the Composers’ Union of Romania (1987)
Magyar Reformátusok III. Világtalálkozójának emlék-ezüstérme – Commemorative Silver Medal of the III. World Meeting of the Hungarian Reformed People (1996)
EMKE Nagy István- díj – István Nagy Award of the Hungarian Cultural Society of Transylvania(1999)
A Magyar Köztársaság Érdemrendjének kiskeresztje – Silver Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary (1999)
The list of his writings can be found in Zenetudományi Írások (Writings in Musicology), the volume from 1999 (edited by László Ferenc).
(Translated by Ilona Simon)