Miklós Takács, conductor, teacher, artistic director (born 13 September 1932 in Budapest, Hungary; died 13 February 2015 in Montréal, QC). A pillar of Montréal’s classical music community, Hungarian-born Miklós Takács came to Canada as a teacher and became a leading artistic director, choir director and conductor. He founded the Société philharmonique de Montréal, conducted the Chœur polyphonique de Montréal and the Chœur Guillaume-Couture, and served as guest conductor for many international orchestras. He was also a fervent promoter of the Kodály method and presented workshops at Canadian chapters of the Kodály Society. He received a Governor General’s Award and Hungary’s Pro Cultura Hungarica Award.
Education and Early Career
Takács studied composition, conducting and musicology, first at the Béla Bartók Conservatory (1953–57), then at the Franz Liszt Academy (1955–59) and at the Sorbonne in Paris (1963–64). His teachers included Zoltán Kodály and György Ligeti, and later Nadia Boulanger and Jacques Chailley. He taught at the Béla Bartók Conservatory from 1964 to 1973, and founded the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Budapest and the Takács Ensemble.
Career in Canada
In 1973, he settled in Canada and began teaching at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) where he also conducted the choir. He also taught at McGill University (1974–78) and at the University of Ottawa (1975–78). In 1982, he founded the Société philharmonique de Montréal, a choral and orchestral association of which he was artistic director. In February 1990, the ensemble gave the North American premiere of the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 10, reconstituted from sketches by the British musicologist Barry Cooper (the world premiere had been held in London in October 1988).
Takács led many international orchestras as a guest conductor, including: the MAV Symphonic Orchestra of Budapest; the Montréal Civic Youth Orchestra; the Philharmonic Orchestra of Debrecen, Hungary; the Paris Chamber Orchestra; the San Remo Symphony; the Hermitage Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg; the Cairo Opera in Egypt; and the Kwangju State Symphony Orchestra in South Korea. In addition to conducting ensembles at Carnegie Hall in New York and at Salle Pleyel in Paris, he also took part in the Pecs International Festival in Hungary and the Constantin Silvestri International Festival in Romania.
As choir director, he conducted the Chœur polyphonique de Montréal and the Chœur Guillaume-Couture. He was also a fervent promoter of the music and method of Zoltán Kodály, and presented workshops at various Canadian chapters of the Kodály Society. He also conducted ensembles on the radio station MRT in Budapest, ORTF in Paris, and the CBC’s English and French networks.
Governor General's Award, Governor General of Canada (1992)
Pro Cultura Hungarica Award, Government of Hungary (1993)