A Hungarian Musician’s Memoir of Suffering, Survival, and Fate

Így végződött


  • Jeffrey Charles Wagner Retired




Hungarian music, George Bánhalmi, World War II, forced labor, Hungarian Holocaust, German occupation of Hungary


Finding an aging manuscript written by a beloved teacher and musician, George Bánhalmi (1926–1935), led the author to investigate Bánhalmi’s detainment, as a Jew, in forced labor in Hungary during World War II, which was the focus of the manuscript. The author’s narrative in this article touches also on some of Bánhalmi’s accomplishments in life after surviving his time of forced labor: graduating with honors from Budapest’s famed Franz Liszt Academy; winning a top prize in the piano category in the 1956 Queen Elisabeth [of Belgium] Competition; concertizing in Eastern Europe and the United States; composing numerous musical works; and, and after settling in the United States in the wake of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, teaching several generations of young people, including the author. jeffwagner@aol.com

Author Biography

Jeffrey Charles Wagner, Retired

Jeffrey Wagner holds an MA in Piano Performance from Indiana University and a BA in Music from Northwestern University. He was for many years a consulting editor for Clavier Magazine, for which he wrote a “Personal Perspective” column and conducted interviews with well-known performers and teachers in the field of classical music. He was twice honored for excellence in music journalism by the Educational Press Association of America. In recent years he has worked to record and perform music by two composers whose lives were interrupted by the Holocaust, Walter Bricht and George Bánhalmi.


Banhalmi, George. 1958, Chopin Cameos (Vox Records, Vox PL 10.370)

Banhalmi, George. 1959, Beethoven Bagatelles (Vox Records, PL 10.680 RVGs)

Liszt, Franz. 2006, Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses. (Henle Verlag)

Lukacs, John. 1994, Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and its Culture, page 184. (Grove Press)

Winder, Simon. 2014, Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe. (Farar, Straus, and Giroux)






Perspectives on Hungarian Studies