classical piano teacher

Noted pianist Béla Böszörményi–Nagy

February 3, 2023

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In my early years, I studied with Dr. Béla Böszörményi–Nagy, a noted Hungarian-born pianist, who combined distinguished careers in both piano teaching and performance since his arrival in America. I am fortunate to have had a series of wonderful piano teachers, and Dr. Nagy influences quite a lot of what I think about music and how I teach.

A winner of the coveted Liszt Prize for three consecutive years, his first teaching assignment was at the Liszt Academy. After 9 successful years there, Dr. Nagy accepted a position at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada. Artist in Residence and Professor of Piano at Indiana University, Boston University, North Carolina School for the Arts, and The Catholic University of America.

pianist béla böszörményi-nagy

Noted performer and pianist

Béla Böszörményi-Nagy was one of the most important members of the generation of pianists after Bartók and Dohnányi. Born in 1912 in Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary, one of his first teachers was István Thoman. He went on to study piano with Ernö Dohnányi, while also regularly attending Leo Weiner's classes in chamber music and Zoltán Kodály's composition classes. From 1935 for three years he received a Liszt scholarship. In 1937 he received his piano artist's diploma, simultaneously graduating at Szeged as well.

"He was an excellent pedagogue, but at the same time an artist through and through. We experienced in his classes the best: he filled room XVI of the Music Academy with music. It was difficult to get close to this rather reserved personality, but when we sat down at the piano, and he sensed talent in someone, he practically swept that person into the music: he whistled, conducted, played the piano, he made us fly. What we received in these classes, we received for a lifetime."

—One-time student, pianist Zsuzsa Szabó

Bartók and Dohnányi

Bela gave the Budapest premier of Bartók's Third Piano Concerto, as well as the original or European premieres of many contemporary compositions. His unusually wide repertoire included sixty concertos, as well as almost all the solo works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók, Kodály, Stravinsky, Boulez and Stockhausen.


His Beethoven concerts are particularly memorable and one of his many very positive reviews were by Dénes Bartha, written in April, 1942, is as follows:

"This serious young man subjects his personal ambitions to the service of the composition, the highest goal of all performing art, more so than any other of the current pianists. Besides this, he has an absolutely individual, sharply delineated personality, a fortunate mixture of being emphatically drawn to intellectual profundity, accompanied by a stormy, eruptive temperament. All this makes him an excellent Beethoven performer, what is more, the best in Hungary. In order to become an artist of world stature, however, he shall have to tame his tremendous temperament and further develop his sense of tone. But the vast advance that he has already accomplished, from his first pianistic steps to the heights he has already reached, entitles us to high hopes – to hope that Béla Böszörményi-Nagy will one day continue that classically stressed way of playing Beethoven which is Bartók's orphaned intellectual legacy since the great master settled in America."

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