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A Tear in the Curtain: The Musical Diplomacy of Erzsébet Szőnyi

Musician, Composer, Teacher of Teachers

Jerry L. Jaccard

Why are so few women composers known to the general public and even fewer of their works studied and performed? More than one musicologist told the author that they are not «famous» enough to be considered! So then, can a woman who studied with Boulanger and Messiaen, who won the coveted Paris Conservatory Prize in Composition, who received the highest awards her country can bestow, and who produced some of the finest teaching musicians on the globe qualify as «famous»? This book is about one who can and does: Erzsébet Szőnyi, a Hungarian «Renaissance woman», who, in spite of a repressive regime’s attempts to contain her, ended up wielding an international artistic and pedagogical influence.
Readers interested in music education, women’s and family studies, Kodály studies, Classical education, theory and composition, musicology, creative processes, educational psychology, and the history and sociology of pre- and postwar Central Europe will find A Tear in the Curtain: The Musical Diplomacy of Erzsébet Szőnyi: Musician, Composer, Teacher of Teachers to be a compelling read. One is left to contemplate what society should actually expect from the education of its citizens.
In this book, readers clearly hear Erzsébet Szőnyi’s own voice as she describes her journey through unimaginable joys, sorrows, and personal challenges to emerge as a muse for our age. More like her are needed; perhaps through her life story we can learn how to raise them. The message is clear: Fame is a life lived in the service of others.

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