Tibor Szemző

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Tibor Szemző

Tibor Szemző (born 1955, Budapest, Hungary) is a Hungarian composer, performer, media artist. His pieces often include spoken texts, film and other media. He creates installations and composes music for his own and others’ films. Ever since the beginning of his career, he has been performing actively and widely in Hungary and abroad as well. [1]



Szemző was born in Budapest, into a middle-class family, declassed as a result of World War II and socialism. His family originates from former Upper Hungary. His musical training was conducted in accordance with the Kodály method. He attended an elementary school that specialised in music. Originally he studied fine mechanics at high school that he abandoned at the age of 17 to dedicate all of his time to instrumental studies. He completed the Bartók Béla Conservatory in two years and later studied at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (1976–79). He earned a Media Design degree at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (2014) and pursued a DLA from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts (2017).

In 1973, he founded the Szemző Quartet (originally a trio) [2] playing improvised chamber music, which later merged into Group 180.

Group 180 was founded in 1979 and was active until 1989. It was started by Szemző and his fellow students, friends (László Melis, András Soós, László Gőz). [3] Group 180 played a prominent role in the distribution of international contemporary repetitive music in Hungary and disseminated Hungarian contemporary music abroad. The group achieved a remarkable domestic and international career. (During the ten years of its existence, the Group worked with such major figures of the genre as Frederic Rzewski, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Alvin Curran, Phill Niblock, Arnold Dreyblatt, Peter Kotik or László Vidovszky.) [4]

In addition, Szemző began his solo career in 1983. Besides his pieces composed for Group 180 in this period, he created Water Wonder, a piece involving live electronics.

From 1987 to 2003, London-based Leo Records [5] released his recordings, occasionally in co-operation with Hungary-based Bahia Records. [6] His first solo release was Snapshot from the Island in 1987. [7]

His interest in cinematography was inspired by his ever-lasting collaboration with media artist Péter Forgács (Group 180's former narrator) and started with the compositions written for Forgács's films. [8] [9] Szemző began to create individual, music-based films in 1985, which is constantly present in his activity. [10] [11]

In 1986/87 he founded Fodderbasis, an open music ensemble. The group's projects were partly multimedia events. They produced some publications, in connection with Forgács's films. [12]

In 1996, Szemző launched the Gordian Knot Creative Music Laboratory, [13] which operated until 2007.

His highly successful and award-winning film was made about the life of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, pilgrim, linguist and tibetologist. The film, titled A Guest of Life – Alexander Csoma de Kőrös [14] [15] [16] (1999-2006) is an intermix animation film and 8mm footage. Both the movie and its stage version are starred by actresses Susannah York and Mari Törőcsik. The direct antecedents of the film were the Invisible Story (1996-2000) [17] based on Béla Hamvas’ prose and The Other Shore (Japan, 1996). [18] Other prominent pieces in Szemző's oeuvre are Tractatus [19] based on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1991-1995), the film Free Fall (1996), [20] the Free Fall Oratorio (CD, 1999), [21] and »K«Engravings, a multimedia-series on Franz Kafka, covering the ten-year cycle between 2008 and 2018. [22] [23]

His regular co-operating partners include the Agon Orchestra from Prague, the Moyzes Quartet from Bratislava, Jenő Oláh's and János Sándor's Folk Ensemble, the Amadinda Percussion Group, the Moving House Company, the Moments Notice Trio, the Danubius Quartet, the Polish Teatr Ósmego Dnia association, the Opus Posth from Moscow and the Polish Camerata Vistula chamber music ensemble.

Since the early 80s, according to the typical art practice of the era, Szemző's musical activity has been open to other arts (especially literature and fine arts, besides cinematography and theatre), often experimented with the boundaries of different art forms. He has taken part in or created numerous performances. He also creates installations. He regularly worked together with the members of the Vajda Lajos Studio of Szentendre, and with János Szirtes, with whom he was also a member of the New Modern Acrobatics performance group (1987-1991). [24] Szemző often worked with fine and oboe artist Gábor Roskó, as well as with fine artist Tamás Waliczky in the early 90s. In his creations, verbality, speech sound, multilingualism, and motion picture play an essential role in a close unity. [25] [26]

Music Compositions, Multimedia Pieces

Music/Soundscapes for Films

Music/Performances with Others

Music for Theatre



Selected events

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  1. "TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  2. Members of Szemző Quartet were János Kálnai, Gábor Kölűs, Ferenc Körmendy, Tibor Szemző and later Tamás Tóth
  3. Members of Group 180 included Béla Faragó, Péter Forgács, László Gőz, László Hortobágyi, Ferenc Kovács, János Kálnai, Ferenc Körmendy, István Mártha, László Melis, Éva Posvanecz, Klára Schnierer, Ferenc Simon, András Soós, Kinga Székely, Tibor Szemző, Gellért Tihanyi, Tamás Tóth, László D. Vörös
  4. "I CARE IF YOU LISTEN MAGAZINE – TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  5. leorecords.com, Copyright (2001-2018) by. "LEO RECORDS: Artist List, keyword Szemzo". www.leorecords.com. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  6. "Bahia Music". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  7. "Tibor Szemző - Snapshot From The Island". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  8. Tamás Korányi, "Taking the Part for the Whole: Some Thoughts Inspired by the Film Music of Tibor Szemzö", translated by David Robert Evans, in Bill Nichols; Michael Renov, eds. (2011-12-02). Cinema's Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 222–28. ISBN   9780816648740 . Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  9. "index". www.forgacspeter.hu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  10. Gábor Gelencsér: Film Island: The Music Pictures of Tibor Szemző. In: Benjamin Meade (ed.): Experimental Film: The Missing Frame. Avila University Press, Kansas City, 2010, 118–140.
  11. "Avila University Press publishes book on experimental film". www.avila.edu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  12. The members of Fodderbasis included Péter Forgács, László Gőz, László Hortobágyi, Kinga Székely, Gellért Tihanyi, Tamás Tóth
  13. The group originally operated as a trio with Péter Magyar, Tibor Szemző and Tamás Tóth as members. Later it transformed and expanded to a larger ensemble with Ildikó Fodor, Mihály Huszár, Szabolcs Keresteš, László Kéringer, Péter Magyar, Tibor Szemző, T. Bali, Tamás Tóth as members. The group often performed with guest artists.
  14. A Guest of Life: Alexander Csoma De Körös , retrieved 2018-11-11
  15. Horyzonty, Stowarzyszenie Nowe. "17. MFF T-Mobile Nowe Horyzonty - Gość życia". www.nowehoryzonty.pl. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  16. "A Guest of Life (2007) - Tibor Szemzo | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  17. "Szemzó Tibor* - Hamvas Béla, Gordiusi Čomó* / The Gordian Knot Company* - Láthatatlan Történet / Invisible Story". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  18. "Tibor Szemző, The Gordian Knot Company*, Moyzes Quartet, Péter Szalai - The Other Shore - Various Compositions 1992 - 97". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  19. "Tibor Szemző - Tractatus". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  20. "Films - Free Fall". www.forgacspeter.hu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  21. "Tibor Szemző, Péter Forgács / The Gordian Knot Company* - Örvény Oratórium / Free Fall Oratorio". Discogs (in Japanese). Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  22. "K.engravings – Szemző/Kafka project". kafka.szemzo.hu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  23. "Franz Kafka and the emperor's new clothes". www.hlo.hu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  24. Members of New Modern Acrobatics included István efZámbó, László feLugossy, Tibor Szemző, János Szirtes, László "Gazember" Waszlavik and on some occasions, Péter Magyar
  25. "Tibor Szemző: Tractatus | 25 January 1996 – TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  26. "Sex-Appeal des Todes | September 1993 – TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  27. "On the edge – Less is the new more | 24 January 2003 – TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  28. Tiszta lap , retrieved 2018-11-14
  29. Aranymadár (in Hungarian), 1999, retrieved 2018-11-14
  30. bbsarchiv.hu. "BBSARCHIV". bbsarchiv.hu. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  31. "Live Music at Jewish Film Festival | 19 July 2000 – TIBOR SZEMZŐ". szemzo.org. Retrieved 2018-11-14.