Modern Art Orchestra plays SZEMZŐ – Budapest Music Center, 17th January 2024

Transparent Sound Festival 2024

  • Tibor Szemző: Memory Shards – The Story of a True Love on the Island of Ada Kaleh in the Cigarette Factory During the Slow Flooding (2017-24)
  • Tibor Szemző: Seems Like Kailash – 2nd Sketch (1999/2002/2024)
  • Tibor Szemző: Optimistic Lecture (1988)
  • Alexandr Krestovský – TJ (text layers)
  • Szakonyi Milán – speaker
  • Modern Art Orchestra
  • Kornél Fekete-Kovács – Artistic director


SKULLBASE FRACTURE 2022 | new 12″ Vinyl LP

Issued by Leo Fegin’s visionary record label in 1993, this refreshed and revised reissue collection of Hungarian composer Tibor Szemző’s chamber pieces with spoken text – composed at 1980s for the legendary GROUP 180 – is unlike anything else of its kind.

No one has survived life. Everyone has died from it so far. Man must realize that He is responsible for His own life and fate and must insist upon this responsibility beyond all limits. And since Man has dissociated Himself from the sphere of irrationality, He has no way of getting in touch with death, or of establishing control over it. How we achieve the final result is merely of secondary importance. If the vision is clear to everyone, there is no need at all to look back. In a time of complete mental disturbance, only one chance remains to us: crystal-clear thinking. This leads us back to total mental disturbance, which everyone has died from so far.
(Pavel Havliček – Miklós Erdély – Tibor Hajas)

Text and Music | Language and Speech | Sound and Music
The common basis of the three works by Tibor Szemző heard on this album is the inalienable relationship to text – as an a priori principle. Text and music: the formal attributes of significance, intentions, and levels of meaning inherent in verbal  more


The Mixed Ensemble
Pavel G. Havliček – narrator (A)
Tibor Szemző – conductor (A), narrator (B1)
László Szegedi – piano (A)
Kinga Székely – piano (A), celesta (B1)
Gergely Ittzés – flute (A, B1)
Gellért Tihanyi – clarinet (A), bass clarinet (B1)
Balázs Arnóth – bassoon (A)
Zoltán Holb – horn (A)
Tamás Tóth – electric bass (A, B1)
Balázs Papp – vibraphone, glockenspiel (B1)
Zsolt Romos – flute and piccolo (B1)
Mihály Borbély – clarinet (B1)
Mihály Farkas – piano (B1)
Sándor Rigó – alto sax (B1)
Ferenc Kovács – trumpet (B1)
Gyula Tóth – electric guitar (B1)
Kornél Fekete Kovács – flugelhorn (B1)
László Göőz – trombone (B1)
Pál Kalmusz – baritone sax (B1)
Péter Magyar – drums (B1)
Lajos Gyenge – cymbals (B1)
Ágnes Apró – viola (B2)
Vilmos Búza – doublebass (B2)
László Fazekas – drums (B2)
Tarina Szemző – narrator (B2)
Danubius String Quartet (A,
B2) Mária Zs. Szabó – 1st violin
Adél Miklós – 2nd vioilin
Enikő Nagy – viola
Ilona Ribli – cello
Jenő Oláh Gipsyband (A)
Jenő Oláh – violin
Gábor Váradi – viola
Gyula Maka – bass
Ferenc Birkás – clarinet
János Rigó – cimbalom
Trio Lóránd – from recording (B1)
Marcel Lóránd – vocal solo
Sándor Kovács – voice
Jenő Kohn – voiceRecorded at HR Studios, Budapest (H), September 1992 by Péter Kerpel, Duo Sound Studio, Perbál Village (H), July 1992 by Gábor Szurmai (B2)
Recording producer: András Soós
Mixed by András Soós, Péter Kerpel and the author HR Studios, Budapest, September 1992
Remastered by the author at the Fodderbasis 2021-22
Mastering: István Szelényi 2022

Skullbase Fracture (1972, 1984) – an essay by Pavel G. Havliček
The folk-like Hungarian song Hullámzó Balaton tetején [On top of the Waving Lake Balaton] 1877 by Ferenc Sárközi

The Hebrew Prayer Avinu Malkeinu [Our Father, Our King] by Rabbi Akiva
Optimista előadás [Optimistic Lecture] 1981 – a lecture by Miklós Erdély, English translation by Eszter Molnár

A lecture by Tibor Hajas, 1977, English translation by Oliver Botar

The Conscience – oil painting by Gábor Roskó on the front cover w. the permission of the artist
Artwork: György Pálfi

music composed by Tibor Szemző
© & ℗ all rights reserved

SNAP #2 (The Other Shore & Cuba) – new vinyl

Tibor Szemző is presenting two compositions on his new album Snap #2 –  The Other Shore and the first release of his CUBA.

As the title implies, Snap #2 can be considered a sequel to his cult album Snapshot from the Island (released in 1987, 2000 and 2020). In that first album the island was a metaphor for isolation and now Snap #2 offers Szemző’s reflections of his visits to real islands, Cuba in 1988-1990 and Japan in 1992-1994. As usual, Tibor Szemző processed the themes both visually and musically and has presented them many times live as cinematographic performances.

The previous version of The Other Shore was released in 1999 on CD. On this album the original recording from 1997 is used; it has been recomposed, remixed and remastered and some additional recordings have been included. The core of Szemző’s Gordian Knot ensemble of the mid-nineties (Tibor Szemző on bass flute, Péter Magyar on drums and Tamás Tóth on bass guitar) has been enlarged by a string section and additional percussionists. The Other Shore composition has a multilayered texture; it starts with strings and is followed by prerecorded voices reciting the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law (Myôhô-Renge-Kyô in Japanese), the most important sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. Then percussion introduces the basic beat of the piece and the voice of the 102 year-old Buddhist priest Ônishi Ryôkei giving a lecture on Kannon sutra is heard. The following uneven entries of drums and bass guitar are like paint brush strokes in Zen calligraphy. The long tones of Szemző’s bass flute enters the piece as the last element suggesting itself as a connecting thread through all previous layers.

When Tibor Szemző first visited Cuba in 1988 he had just started shooting film on 8mm, something of a personal diary. When he met Jonas Mekas in Budapest a few years later, he realized that this footage could be screened publicly and also be an integral part of live performances. CUBA, presented on the Snap #2 album, is the recording from 2000 of one such performance and was remixed by the author in 2021. It is as similar to and yet different from The Other Shore. The Gordian Knot band seemingly structures the piece in the same way, but the resulting sound is much heavier especially thanks to drummer Péter Magyar. Nevertheless, the contributions of Szemző on bass flute, Mihály Huszár on electric bass and T. Bali on prepared electric guitar also inject the proper rock sting. Incorporated Havanna street sounds and local radio broadcasts recorded by the author provide even more steamy roughness to the sound of Szemző’s CUBA.

The cover design of the Snap #2 album with photo reproductions from Szemző’s films reflects the aesthetics of the Snapshot from the Island album.

This vinyl LP runs at 45 RPM for better sound quality.

Alexandr Krestovský


The Gordian Knot Company
Ildikó Fodor – violine, Fruzsina Jaán – viola, Mariann Pleszkán – cello
people of the Kyoto Kiyomizu-dera temple – recitation
Péter Magyar – drums, István Pápai – maracas, Marcell Benkő – congas
Tamás Tóth – bass guitar
Ônishi Ryôkei – voice
Tibor Szemző – bassflute

recorded at HEAR Studio, 17th December 1997 by István Horváth
remix and additional recording at Fodderbasis, May-June 2021 by the author

literary sources
Myôhô-Renge-Kyô, the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, Chapter XXV
fragments from the lecture on Kannon-Kyô by the Buddhist priest Ônishi Ryôkei

special thanks to Márton B. Balogh

TIBOR SZEMZŐ:   CUBA     10:31   [45 RPM]

The Gordian Knot Company
Péter Magyar – drums
Mihály Huszár – electric bass
T. Bali – prepared electric guitar
Radio Reloj [Cuba] – voices
Tibor Szemző – bassflute

Havanna street sounds and Radio Reloj recorded by the author, December 1989 – January 1990.

live performance at MU Theatre, Budapest, 20th October 2000
recorded and mixed by Zoltán Regenye Regi at HSB Studio, Dunakeszi 2000
remix at Fodderbasis, May-June 2021 by the author

István Szelényi

author’s publication

© & ℗   Tibor Szemző 1989-2021
all right seserved

cover photo reproduction by László Lugó
from the film CUBA (1993) by Tibor Szemző

cover design by György Pálfi