Born: May 4, 1905 Died: September 24, 1960
An immigrant from Hungary, Mátyás Seiber influenced a generation of mid-twentieth century English composers with his lyrical, continental style of composition and skill as a teacher. Greatly affected by the music of Béla Bartók and Arnold Schoenberg, Seiber's works contain elements of Hungarian folk music, oriental music, and jazz. They reflect a depth of emotion and excellent craftsmanship that also marked his teaching and performance. Born to a musical family, Seiber began playing the cello at the age of ten and enrolled in the Budapest Academy of Music in 1919 where he was a student of Adolf Schiffer and Zoltán Kodály. Finishing his studies in 1924, he accepted a teaching position in Frankfurt. By 1927, Seiber's desire to travel drove him to join the orchestra on a transatlantic liner. Returning to Frankfurt in 1928, he taught at the Hoch Conservatory until the autumn of 1933 when growing Nazi influence forced him to leave Germany and eventually settle in England in 1935. While living in England, he wrote music for more than 25 films including George Orwell's Animal Farm, England's first feature-length animated movie. He lectured on jazz and even took a position as music adviser to a publishing company. In 1942, Seiber joined the faculty at Morley College. During his 15 years there, he wrote his cantata Ulysses which was first performed by the Morley College Choir, became a much sought-after teacher of composition, founded the Dorian Singers, and guided a generation of young English composers. In 1960, Seiber was invited to lecture at South African universities and was killed in an automobile accident while visiting Kruger National Park.