György Sándor : Volume Number One : Rarely seen 1950s Budapest street photography shot by a Hungarian classical pianist. A scratchy symphony of composition and poise in turbulent times.
A very rare glimpse at Budapest as seen through the lens of the Hungarian concert pianist and writer, György Sándor (1912 – 2005). In the classical world, Sándor was up there. He recorded piano works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov and Schumann amongst others; he toured the world, playing at New York’s Carnegie Hall and was friends with, and mentored by the legendary composer Béla Bartók; he married the divorced wife of the Archduke Karl Pius of Austria, Prince of Tuscany: and he wrote a book, “On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, Expression”.
It now transpired that Sándor was a also a keen amateur photographer. The Fővárosi Szabó Ervin Library in Budapest recently found, dusted off and donated over 500 previously unseen Sándor photographs to a Hungarian public archive for found photography. The images date from the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He covered funerals, shows us bullet ridden buildings and the nation’s capital rebuilding, getting back on it’s feet once more. Resurrection. Sándor recognised a grand theme playing out when he saw one.
György Sándor wasn’t taken in by showy piano players, preferring gravitas and poise: “Today more than ever, audiences mistake the excessively tense muscular activities of the performer for an intense musical experience,” he said, “and all too often we see the public impressed and awed by convulsive distortions and spastic gyrations.”
He seems to have taken this approach, this philosophy, and applied it to his personal photography. As with his concert performances, every photograph is unpretentious and grounded, thoughtfully composed, evocative and true.
“Well, if you sit down and play the piano and they like you,” said Sándor in an 1990 interview, “what would you think would be their normal reaction? They want to hear you again!”
If you want to see more of Sándor’s photography, you can: