Sandor Erkel (1846-1900)

  • Profession: Composer, conductor, director, timpanist
  • Residences: Budapest
  • Relation to Mahler: 
  • Correspondence with Mahler: 
  • Born: 02-01-1846 Buda, Hungary
  • Died: 14-10-1900 Békéscsaba, Hungary. Aged 54.
  • Buried: 00-00-0000 Kerepesi Cemetery, Kerepesdűlő, Józsefváros, Budapest, Hungary

Sandor Erkel was a Hungarian composer, conductor and director of the Hungarian State Opera.

Born in Buda, Erkel was the youngest son of the famous Hungarian composer, Ferenc Erkel (1810-1893). He first studied music with his father; later his teacher was another Hungarian composer, Mihály Mosonyi.

He started his career just as an orchestra musician of the National Theatre in Pest playing tympani; besides he was the dulcimer soloist at the premiere of his father's famous opera, the Bánk bán.

Later he became the conductor of the theater's orchestra, and at the age of thirty in 1876, he was appointed the music director of the ensemble. In 1884, Erkel became the music director of the newly established Hungarian State Opera (1884-1886), its founding director was his father, Ferenc Erkel, premiering Hungarian and foreign operas.

As one of the most acknowledged Hungarian conductors of his age, he accepted the chairman-conductor position of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra in 1875, a post he held until 1900. Johannes Brahms premiered his Piano concerto no. 2. with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra on 09-11-1881 in Budapest; the soloist of the concert was the composer, the conductor Sándor Erkel.

He died unexpectedly in Békéscsaba on 14-10-1900. As a composer his oeuvre is relatively small, including orchestral and choral works. His only opera, the Csobánc, was premiered on 13-12-1865.

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