Jewish Music & Poetry Project

Poets & Musicians

Sandor Vandor, composer

Scholar, educator, and musician Agnes Kory writes, "Thanks to the choir named after him, Vándor is not entirely unknown. He even merited twelve lines in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. But his work as a composer and educator is largely forgotten. From 1920 on, Vándor (originally Venetianer; Miskolc, July 28, 1901– Sopronbánfalva, January 14, 1945) studied in Berlin and then as Paul Graener's composition student at the Leipzig Music Academy, from which he graduated. He worked as an opera répétiteur in Italy from 1924 until he returned to Hungary in 1932, after which he worked as an opera conductor and répétiteur and led several workers' choirs without payment. He conducted the choir that eventually took his name from 1936 until November 1944, when he was taken to Sopronbánfalva by the Hungarian Nazis and died under torture."

"As a conductor, Vándor consistently promoted works by Bartók and Kodály, and he published articles about Bartók, Kodály, Mussorgsky and Shostakovich. In addition to Hungarian, he was fluent in German, Russian, English, French, Italian and Spanish. In 1940, during his three-month Ruthenian forced labor period, he learned Ruthenian and collected Ruthenian folksongs. Although as a composer Vándor was best known for his choral works, he was prolific in many genres and was well received by audiences and critics alike. Distinguished artists, such as the pianist György Sándor and the singer Vera Rózsa, performed at concerts of Vándor's compositions, which include instrumental, chamber, orchestral, vocal/choral and stage works. Only one of Vándor's compositions was published during his lifetime: The Machine, for piano solo, won the silver medal at an international competition for piano compositions in Eastern Europe in 1934. His second opera was left unfinished at the time of his death..."


Hungarian-born Agnes Kory is the founder-director of the Béla Bartók Centre for Musicianship (London), where children as young as two years old, as well as professional musicians, study. Once a professional cellist, she now focuses on research into such topics as Bartók, Kodály, Baroque instrumentation and Music of the Holocaust.