Gyorgy Sandor; Pianist and Protege of Bartok

Associated Press
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gyorgy Sandor, 93, a pianist who was a protege of the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and toured the world into his nineties while teaching at the Juilliard School, died of a heart ailment Dec. 9 at his home in Manhattan, N.Y.

A native of Budapest, Mr. Sandor studied piano with Bartok and composition with Zoltan Kodaly at the Liszt Academy of Music there. He played concerts worldwide in the 1930s, making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1939 and later premiering many piano works by Bartok, who died in New York in 1945.

Mr. Sandor was best known for his performances and recordings of the music of Bartok, Kodaly and Sergei Prokofiev. He recorded the complete solo piano works of Prokofiev and Kodaly, and the piano music and concertos of Bartok, for which he won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1965.

In playing Bartok's fiendishly difficult music, Mr. Sandor was praised for his subtlety and fine articulation at the keyboard.

"His playing serves as a chastisement to those who play Bartok with percussive sound," critic Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times wrote in a review of a four-disc set Mr. Sandor recorded a dozen years ago.

He gave his last public performance, in Turkey, last spring.

In addition to Juilliard, Mr. Sandor taught at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

He wrote "On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound and Expression," a book published in 1981, and finished the manuscript of a book on Bartok and his works.

His marriage to Christina Sandor ended in divorce.

Survivors include a son and two stepdaughters.

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