Géza de Kresz

Géza de Kresz. Violinist, teacher, conductor, b Budapest 11 Jun 1882, naturalized Canadian 1930, d Toronto 2 Oct 1959. He studied 1892-7 with Alajos Gobbi and 1897-1900 with Jenö Hubay at the National Cons in Budapest, graduating in 1900.

de Kresz, Géza

Géza de Kresz. Violinist, teacher, conductor, b Budapest 11 Jun 1882, naturalized Canadian 1930, d Toronto 2 Oct 1959. He studied 1892-7 with Alajos Gobbi and 1897-1900 with Jenö Hubay at the National Cons in Budapest, graduating in 1900. He continued his studies 1900-02 at the Prague Cons with Otakar Ševčík, receiving a second diploma in 1902. For the following three years he was a pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe in Brussels and at Godinne-sur-Meuse (where he met and played quartets with Boris Hambourg) and also studied composition in Brussels with Théophile Ysaÿe and in Paris with Albert Lavignac. He had some violin lessons in 1905 with Jacques Thibaud in Paris.

De Kresz made his debut in Vienna in 1906, was concertmaster 1907-9 of the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra, and appeared as soloist with many European orchestras. In Bucharest 1909-15 he taught at the State Cons, was concertmaster of the Bucharest SO, and led the Carmen Sylva String Quartet, at the royal court of Rumania. He went to Berlin in 1915 and was concertmaster 1917-21 of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a teacher 1919-23 at the Stern Cons. In 1918 he married the pianist Norah Drewett, with whom he gave duo-recitals after they moved - at the prompting of Boris Hambourg - to Toronto in 1923. The duo's first Canadian recital was in Massey Hall 30 Oct 1923; they toured Canada and continued to perform as a duo until 1951. De Kresz taught at the Hambourg Conservatory and played first violin in the Hart House String Quartet (until 1935). He appeared as soloist with the New SO and the TSO, was a member 1924-5 of the Hambourg Trio, and founded and conducted 1930-4 the Little Symphony, a chamber orchestra. He spent many summers in Europe teaching at the University of Vienna and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and performing. He remained in Budapest 1935-47, teaching at the Liszt Academy of Music and the National Cons. As director of the latter 1941-7 he instituted one of the first high school curricula in Hungary to combine musical training with academic subjects. After World War II he adjudicated at several international competitions. In 1947 de Kresz and his wife returned to Toronto, where he taught at the RCMT, conducted courses in violin pedagogy, and, until 1955, continued to perform. A recital given in Toronto in May 1955 was recorded on a private label.

Ettore Mazzoleni said of him, 'Here was a musician of vital temperament, full of zest for life, and completely selfless where music, and those he admired, were concerned' (RCMT Monthly Bulletin, Nov-Dec 1959). Harry Adaskin, in A Fiddler's World, wrote that de Kresz had 'a good steady bow arm so that slow movements were beautifully played, very intellectually musical, and with a confident stage manner,' but added 'his most serious drawback was rhythmical unsteadiness and, since he had perfect pitch, he tended to sound out of tune'. A respected teacher, de Kresz included among his pupils Murray Adaskin, Arthur Garami, Flora Matheson Goulden, Betty-Jean Hagen, Clayton Hare, Adolf Koldofsky, Kayla Mitzel, Maurice Solway, Irene Diehl Thorolfson, and Margaret Wilson. Dora de Pedery Hunt designed a medallion in 1969 to mark the inauguration of the Géza de Kresz Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Norah Drewett de Kresz (b Sutton, England, 14 Jun 1882, d Budapest 24 Apr 1960), a piano pupil of Victor-Alphonse Duvernoy at the Paris Cons and of Bernhard Stavenhagen in Munich, also studied briefly with Leonid Kreutzer in Berlin and played in recitals and with chamber groups. She made her orchestral debut 31 Jan 1904 in Monte Carlo and taught 1928-35 at the TCM and the Hambourg Cons and 1938-41 at the National Cons in Budapest, and later privately. Her pupils included Patricia Blomfield Holt and Ida Krehm.

De Kresz' papers are deposited at the University of Toronto, the Metropolitan Toronto Library, and the National Library of Canada.

See also discography for the Hart House String Quartet (before 1935).

Writings

Géza de Kresz, Course in Violin Pedagogy: Introduction, Summary and First Lecture (Toronto 1949)

'Violin pedagogy,' Strad, 62, Oct 1951

'The Hart House String Quartet: a phase in Canadian music history,' ConsB, Mar 1954

'Some thoughts concerning progressive violin pedagogy,' American String Teacher, vol 7, Spring 1957

'Eugène Ysaÿe centenary 1858-1958,' CMJ, vol 1, Summer 1957

'Review' of Cello Playing of Today by Maurice Eisenberg,' CMJ, vol 2, Spring 1958

Thoughts on Violin Teaching (Winnipeg 1969)


Further Reading

  • Ridley, Hilda. 'Madame Norah Drewett de Kresz,' SatN, 11 Feb 1928

    Hale, Katherine. 'Musician and mother half time,' Canadian Home J, Nov 1930

    'Mme de Kresz,' CQR, vol 14, summer 1932

    Adaskin, Harry. A Fiddler's World (Vancouver 1977)

    Kresz, Mária, and Király, Péter. The Violinist and Pianist Géza de Kresz and Norah Drewett (Toronto 1989)