Jerry L. Jaccard, associate professor of Music Education in the BYU School of Music, is determined to tell the story of one of music education’s most influential women.
A Tear in the Curtain: The Musical Diplomacy of Erzsébet SzŠ‘nyi, Musician, Composer, Teacher of Teachers details the life and influence of Erzsébet SzŠ‘nyi, a famous Hungarian composer and music pedagogue. Jaccard met SzŠ‘nyi in 1980, during his first research trip to Hungary. They kept in touch through the years, and in 2007 he asked if he could write her biography.
“I already knew she was special. I just came to know how very special she is,” Jaccard said. “She has not let life or the trials of life beat her down. Her story needs to be told.”
Through her lectures, books, articles and personal practice, SzyŠ‘nyi has had a critical role in enhancing music education within Hungary and throughout the world.
After seven years of personal interviews, archival research, written and electronic correspondence, work with a publisher, compilation and digitization work, A Tear in the Curtain will be available for purchase on April 30.
“We need to know about people like this. These unsung heroes anchor us as a society,” Jaccard said. “She has a world-wide influence on music teachers, whether they know it or not.”
Jaccard will attend SzŠ‘nyi’s 90th birthday celebration at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest at the end of the month to hand-deliver a copy of the book to her. Her birthday festivities will be celebrated nationwide through concerts and lectures planned up to the end of the year.
Since 1980 Jaccard said he and SzŠ‘nyi have cultivated a deep and enduring friendship because of their faith.
“She’s as devout a Catholic as I am a Latter-day Saint. That was our common ground, our mutual self-respect for each other,” Jaccard said.
Read a sample of A Tear in the Curtain here.