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Biography of

Matyas Seiber

4 may 1905 (Budapest) - 29 may 1960 (Johannesburg)
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Mátyás György Seiber (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈmaːcaːʃ ˈʃaibɛr]; 4 May 1905 – 24 September 1960) was a Hungarian-born composer who lived and worked in England from 1935 onward. He was killed in a car accident in Kruger National Park, while on a lecture tour of South Africa.



Seiber was born in Budapest, and studied there with Zoltán Kodály, with whom he toured Hungary collecting folk songs. In 1928, he became director of the jazz department at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, which offered the first academic jazz courses anywhere.[1] After they were closed by the Nazis in 1933, Seiber left Germany and settled in London. He became a British subject in 1935.[2] From 1942, he was on the staff of Morley College in London, where he became a respected teacher of composition. Several of his students went on to become eminent musicians themselves, including Peter Racine Fricker, Don Banks, Anthony Milner, Hugh Wood and Wally Stott (who later became Angela Morley).


Seiber's music is eclectic in style, showing the influences of jazz, Bartók and Schoenberg. His output includes Ulysses (1947), a cantata on words by James Joyce; scores to animated films, including Animal Farm (1954); a setting of the Scottish "poet and tragedian" William McGonagall's work, The Famous Tay Whale (written for the second of Gerard Hoffnung's music festivals); three string quartets; and choral arrangements of Hungarian and Yugoslav folk songs. He also wrote one opera, Eva spielt mit Puppen (1934), and two operettas, A Palágyi Pekek and Balaton.[3]

Seiber used a pseudonym for his jazz works and popular music: G. S. Mathis or George Mathis (a rearrangement of his name using Anglicised forms), under which name he wrote for John Dankworth. He was awarded the Ivor Novello Prize for the song, "By the Fountains of Rome", which was a hit in 1956 in the UK Single Charts, making it to the Top Twenty. (The lyrics were by Norman Newell, and it was sung by David Hughes).[4]

Alternate name spellings

Seiber is sometimes misspelled Seyber. Mathis also appears as Matthis.


  1. ^ See article and references here: Timeline of jazz education
  2. ^ Mátyás Seiber biography at IMDb
  3. ^ Opera Glass
  4. ^ Seiber Boyd, Julia. "The Seiber Centenary: 2005 and Beyond", Suppressed Music, 9 August 2005.


  • Karolyi, Otto. Modern British music. The second British musical renaissance. From Elgar to P. Maxwell Davies, Associated University Presses, 1994.
  • Leach, Gerald. British composer profiles. A biographical dictionary and chronology of past British composers 1800-1979, British Music Society, 1980.
  • Lyman, Darryl. Great Jews in Music, J. D. Publishers, 1986.
  • Sadie, Stanley. The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, Macmillan, 1980.
  • Wood, Hugh; Cooke, Mervyn. Seiber, Mátyás (György), Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Matyas Seiber. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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