Tibor Polgar

Tibor Polgar. Conductor, composer, pianist, teacher, b Budapest 11 Mar 1907, naturalized Canadian 1969, d Toronto 26 Aug 1993. He studied with Zoltan Kodály at the Academy of Music, Budapest.

Polgar, Tibor

Tibor Polgar. Conductor, composer, pianist, teacher, b Budapest 11 Mar 1907, naturalized Canadian 1969, d Toronto 26 Aug 1993. He studied with Zoltan Kodály at the Academy of Music, Budapest. After graduation he was a pianist and then conductor 1925-50 of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and wrote music for many plays and films, and he also headed the music department of the Hungarian Radio after the war. After leaving Hungary he led the Philharmonia Hungarica in Germany 1962-4, and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra 1965-6. He was an instructor in the University of Toronto Opera Division 1966-75 and a coach for the COC. He taught orchestration at York University 1976-7.

Polgar composed for the CBC and for feature and documentary films. He often employed Hungarian idioms in his compositions. His short one-act opera The Glove, commissioned in 1973 by Prologue to the Performing Arts for performance by the COC, has a libretto by George Jonas based on a poem of Schiller. It has received many performances (over 100 by 1980) in Ontario schools. With its original Prologue cast - Riki Turofsky, Michael Burgess, and Avo Kittask - it was telecast 5 Nov 1975 by the CBC.

In 1978 Polgar composed the score for the Canadian film In Praise of Older Women and appeared briefly in it as a pianist. Although he retired in the late 1970s, Polgar remained an active composer. In the 1980s he concentrated on works for orchestra (eg, Concerto Romantico, for harpist Erica Goodman; and The Four Seasons). Polgar twice received Hungary's Ferenc Erkel Music Prize for composition, and in 1992 he received an outstanding achievement award from the American Harp Society, for his compositions for harp. Polgar was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.

Selected Compositions

Kérök 'The Suitors,' opera. 1954 (Budapest 1954). Ms

A European Lover 'Musical satire disguised as an opera' (George Jonas). 1965 (ca 1966). Ms

The Last Words of Louis Riel, cantata (J. Robert Colombo). 1966-7. Ms

The Troublemaker, comic opera in 1 act (Jonas). 1968. Ms

Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song. 1969. Hp, string, timpani. Ms

The Glove, comic opera (Schiller-Jonas). 1973 (CBC 1974). Ms

Three Poems in Music. 1977. Orch. Ms

Two Symphonic Dances: In Latin Rythm. 1982. Concert band. Ms

Fanfare of Pride and Joy. 1982. 12 trumpet, orch (band). Ms

Concerto Romantico. 1985. Hp, orch. Ms

The Four Seasons. 1987. Orch. Ms

The Voice of the Soul. Orch. Premiered 1990

Also other orch, chamber works, voice and choir works, many arr of German and Hungarian folksongs


Further Reading

  • Schulman, Michael. 'Tibor Polgar: seeing his music appreciated by the public,' CanComp, May 1976

    - 'Two films, two music scores, two less-than-happy composers,' ibid, Feb 1979

    -- "Tibor Polgar work," ibid, May 1986

    Evasuk, Stasia. "Award honours composers, 85 for extensive harp repertoire," Toronto Star, 19 Nov 92

    CMCentre. Directory of Associate Composers (Toronto 1989)

    Contemporary Canadian Composers