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We aim to release CDs featuring the pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi's historic 1972 comeback recital (Brahms/Liszt/Chopin).
We aim to release CDs featuring the pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi's historic 1972 comeback recital (Brahms/Liszt/Chopin).
We aim to release CDs featuring the pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi's historic 1972 comeback recital (Brahms/Liszt/Chopin).
30 backers pledged £4,059 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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"Lost Genius" Nyiregyházi Live at Century Club of California

£4,059

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I am launching an exciting project that will make public previously unreleased recordings of the Hungarian-American pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi (1903-1987) performing at the Century Club of California, in San Francisco, in 1972. 

A former child prodigy and a concert star in both Europe and America in his teens and twenties, Nyiregyházi spent decades in poverty and obscurity before finally resuming his career with this comeback recital in 1972. The life story and performance style of this eccentric genius would go on to attract much media attention in the 1970s. 

For an introduction to Nyiregyházi’s amazing life, read Kevin Bazzana's introductory article to his award-winning biography Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick (2007). Please also visit my personal Nyiregyházi page fugue.us

THE NYIREGYHAZI PROJECT

Nyiregyházi’s personal archive, including reel-to-reel tape recordings, were donated posthumously to the Takasaki Art Center College (TACC), in Japan, in the 1990s, but the contents of the archive were not made available to the public in the years that followed. Both Kevin Bazzana and I made many attempts to access the archive in the 2000s, but were unsuccessful.

In 2012, the TACC was closed because of financial difficulties, and the archive was eventually seized by the creditors. Negotiations to transfer ownership of the archive to my company, Sonetto Classics, London, were initiated in 2013, and Sonetto acquired the material in the summer of 2016.

The sizeable collection included both Nyiregyházi's personal archive and materials that the TACC itself produced—more than a hundred reel-to-reel tapes (including a number of masters), films, compositions, photographs, letters, and more. Initial concerns over the condition of the tapes proved baseless, when Abbey Road Studios confirmed that they had been well preserved, displaying Nyiregyházi's white-hot playing in concert with a vivid immediacy seldom experienced in the studio recordings he made later in the 1970s.

Checking tapes at Abbey Road Studios
Checking tapes at Abbey Road Studios

 

About this album: In the early 1970s, after decades in poverty and obscurity, Nyiregyházi started giving public recitals to help pay for his ninth wife's medical bills. His first full comeback recital took place at Century Club of California, in San Francisco, on December 17, 1972. He offered a large program including Brahms's F-minor sonata, three mazurkas and a prelude by Chopin, Debussy's “Pagodes,” and several works by Liszt. The concert, which Nyiregyházi once ranked as the best of his career, was recorded, but only a few tracks from it appeared in the compilation of Nyiregyházi concert performances released by Music and Arts in 2007.

Concert Program of Century Club Recital (1972)
Concert Program of Century Club Recital (1972)

 

Reel-to-reel tapes of Century Club Recital (the program on each case was written by Nyiregyházi himself)
Reel-to-reel tapes of Century Club Recital (the program on each case was written by Nyiregyházi himself)

 

Our objective is to release a two-CD set comprising the entire recital as well as bonus tracks (see Risks and Challenges). Our sound sources are the reel-to-reel tapes owned by Nyiregyházi himself. The CD will include sleeve notes by Nyiregyházi’s biographer Kevin Bazzana, and previously unreleased photos drawn from the TACC archive.

Front cover (photo: Yoshimasa Hatano)
Front cover (photo: Yoshimasa Hatano)

 

The Team

Tomo Sawado at "Angelo Villani Plays Dante's Inferno" session
Tomo Sawado at "Angelo Villani Plays Dante's Inferno" session

Tomo Sawado, CEO and producer of Sonetto Classics, is leading the project. A collaborator on many music projects, he established the largest online Nyiregyházi archive (http://www.fugue.us), which is widely recognized among piano enthusiasts and has been cited in The Wall Street Journal and International Piano. His first major project for Sonetto Classics, Angelo Villani Plays Dante’s Inferno, received five stars in both The Independent (Andy Gill) and International Piano (Bryce Morrison), and received the highest rating, "Tokusen-ban," in Record Geijutsu magazine.

Kevin Bazzana and "Lost Genius"
Kevin Bazzana and "Lost Genius"

Kevin Bazzana is the author of the award-winning, internationally praised Nyiregyházi biography Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick, which was published in North America in 2007 and subsequently in Germany and Japan. He also wrote two acclaimed books on Glenn Gould, including the biography Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould (2003), and was a consultant on the documentary Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009). Sawado and Bazzana have collaborated since 2004.

Sound engineer Robin Springall is the owner of Repeat Performance Media, whose clients include Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., Sting, Eric Clapton, Elton John, the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, Wigmore Hall, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Sawado and Springall worked together in 2015 on Angelo Villani Plays Dante’s Inferno, which was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Jeremy McGahan is cofounder of Sonetto Classics and has managed a number of piano recitals in the U.K. He has extensive experience within the finance sector and will be overseeing promotion and marketing.

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This project is officially endorsed by Mattheus Smits, president of the International Ervin Nyiregyházi Foundation, in Krommenie, The Netherlands. The Foundation represents Nyiregyházi’s estate. 

Digital transfer is by Jed Allcock (Abbey Road Studios).

Budget: The budget covers all production costs, including digital remastering, a 20-page booklet (in English and Japanese), 1,000 double-CD pressings, handling and shipping fees, and a license fee for the cover photo. Any extra funding received will be used to reissue, distribute, and promote the album in international markets as well as for Nyiregyházi-in-concert trilogy projects (see FUTURE PROJECTS). If the target amount is not reached, all the pledges will be returned.

Cost allocation
Cost allocation

FUTURE PROJECTS: The year 2017 marks the 30th anniversary Nyiregyházi’s death, and we hope that, with sufficient support, this album will be the first release of a Nyiregyházi-in-concert trilogy that will also include two other San Francisco recitals, at the Old First Church and the Forest Hill Club House, both from 1973. We also plan to include his last recordings privately made in 1984 in one of these albums. We have already obtained fine sound sources (including one master tape) and full authorisation from The International Ervin Nyiregyházi Foundation for these two additional releases.

The trilogy will be completed in 2018.

Sonetto Classics's previous, ongoing, and future projects
Sonetto Classics's previous, ongoing, and future projects

 

 

Risks and challenges

The sound quality of the tapes for the Century Club recital is generally excellent for a live recording from 1972. The piano sound is rich, clear, and colourful. During the Chopin group, however, there is a section approximately five-seven minutes long in which the left channel becomes shaky. In the release version, we plan to keep this section as is but will also include the same recordings as they appear in a different sound source whose sound is inferior but is more stable in the corresponding section.

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    Nyiregyházi follower

    One pre-released two-CD set plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned file: One unpublished composition by Nyiregyhazi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned file: One unpublished photo of Nyiregyházi in Japan that we select, drawn from his archive.

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    Nyiregyházi enthusiast

    One pre-released two-CD set plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned file: 5 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned file: 5 high-resolution photos of Nyiregyházi in Japan, all unpublished and drawn from his archive.

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    Performer

    1) One pre-released two-CD set.
    2) Scanned file: 30 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, all unpublished and drawn from his archive. Please see FAQ for more details.

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    Serious Nyiregyházi enthusiast & sponsor

    One pre-released two-CD set plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned files: 10 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned files: 10 high-resolution photos of Nyiregyházi in Japan, all unpublished and drawn from his archive.
    4) You and your partner will be credited as a sponsor in the CD sleeve note.

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    Nyiregyházi enthusiast + sponsor

    One pre-released two-CD set plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned files: 20 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned files: 20 high-resolution photos of Nyiregyházi in Japan, all unpublished and drawn from his archive.
    4) A copy of "Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick" signed by Kevin Bazzana.
    5) You and your partner will be credited as a sponsor in the CD sleeve note.

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    Nyiregyházi enthusiast + sponsor + MOP

    One pre-released two-CD set plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned files: 20 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned files: 20 high-resolution photos of Nyiregyházi in Japan, all unpublished and drawn from his archive.
    4) A copy of "Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick" signed by Kevin Bazzana.
    5) You and your partner will be credited as a sponsor in the CD sleeve note.
    6) One copy of "The Messengers of Peace, Vol. 1" a limited edition of boxed set of LPs drawn from the TACC archive ---- Please note that the discs are new, but no booklet included.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,219

    Honorary Exective Producer+mint MOP

    Two pre-released double CD albums plus:
    1) A 19-page booklet entitled "Nyiregyházi and Takasaki Art Center College". This booklet was published and distributed by the TACC in 1996, and explores the relationship between Nyiregyházi and Takasaki—a collector's item.
    2) Scanned files: 20 unpublished compositions by Nyiregyházi that we select, drawn from his archive.
    3) Scanned files: 20 high-resolution photos of Nyiregyházi in Japan, all unpublished and drawn from his archive.
    4) A copy of "Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick" signed by Kevin Bazzana.
    5) One mint-condition copy of "The Messengers of Peace, Vol. 1" a limited edition of boxed set of LPs drawn from the TACC archive ---- a mint copy is extremely rare. The booklet included.
    6) You and your partner will not only be credited as "Honorary Executive Producer" in the sleeve note but will be kept informed about the project. You will be receiving draft versions of the CD booklet, Kevin Bazzana's note, sound files, and so on. If you are in the London area, we may invite you to one of our digital-transfer sessions at Abbey Road Studios in our future projects.

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Funding period

- (30 days)