Maestro Miklós Takács, one of Glen Sutton's most illustrious residents
By Manfred H. Rieder
This was written in 2011 and Miklos has since died.:
On a rainy Tuesday, Nov. 13, 1877, the church of The Good Shepherd was officially opened in Glen Sutton and served this small community until about a decade ago, when the church was put up for sale. Developers came out of the woodwork and a number of private investors were interested also. In comes the internationally renowned maestro, conductor, teacher, pianist and concert master Miklos Takacs of UQUAM fame and the church sold it to him because he had a dream. He was to restore the beautiful church, use it for musical soirees and give it new life.
Driving up to the church last Thursday, I heard the most beautiful sound of piano music emanating from within and there he was, Miklos, the 78 year old genius on his more than a century old Boesendorfer grand piano "practicing". "I try to work about two hours every day", he explained. "That is when I am not swimming". Swimming is the exercise of choice for him, he has a pool at his house in the Glen and his place in Montreal also has one. "I swim every day, it keeps me in shape" explains the maestro. Not that he looks out of shape, he is the only 78 year old I know who looks a young 60, his vigor has recently been seen at concerts in Montreal where he still can reign supreme, his baton a threatening or caressing tool, his every measured gesture of movement one of subtlety and grace.
""My wife has friends in the Sutton area and when we came to visit here I just fell in love with the region. This is why we now spend long weekends here because I still have to maintain a place in Montreal, I work with the University of Quebec, I am still the general artistic director of the Philharmonic Society of Montreal and am still conducting on occasion".
Miklos has had an illustrious career and has been given such noble awards as the Governor General's Award of Canada and numerous awards and citations from his native Hungary and other countries he has performed in.
I had the chance to review his interpretation of Liszt's Missa Solemnis, a concert he did with the Orchestre Symphonique de Pe'cs and I was awestruck by the infinite warmth, the depth of feeling, the tonality, he wove into this somewhat under-appreciated massive work by one of Miklos's favorite composers. His interpretation, compared to one other one I own, done by Herbert von Karajan, could be described as a beautiful love poem. Karajan reads it as a newscaster, Miklos interprets it as the lover addressed in the work.
Outside the Boesendorfer piano which a friend of his describes as the "most valuable object in Glen Sutton", there are two other keyboards in the church, one in the old sacristy, a beautiful old upright which Miklos uses for more quiet informal practice. The church itself has the most ingeniously crafted vaulted ceiling, possibly 30 feet high, which encompasses the pews, altar and magnificent stained glass windows in a graceful arch. All the pews are in place and the church looks ready for service with fine chandeliers, sideboards and all the other trimmings of a venerable religious institution in place. But on the walls are the priceless posters of past concerts of Mr. Takacs and his mentors and friends such as the great Zoltan Kodaly, one of Mr. Takacs early teachers, mentors and friends.There is also a beautiful panoramic picture of him in the dome of Salzburg, Austria,
conducting, which almost choked me up, as I was an altar boy in that very church for six years and can identify every corner of the altar region depicted.
It is difficult to describe the life of Miklos Takacs. He has conducted all over the world, his biography can be found on every search engine on the internet and everything mentioned here would just be rehash and unnecessary.
What counts is the genius of this distinguished gentleman of Glen Sutton, whom a resident neighbor of Mr. Takacs described as "the local Count Dracula, when he walks the village at night, with his white hair shining and his great cape flowing behind him".
Miklos's wife is experiencing some health problems which keeps him glued to her side "just in case we have to go to a hospital", otherwise he would still be out there conducting as he did as recently as in April in Montreal. When I left , he was back at the piano and the gentle notes dropping like raindrops onto a spring pond followed me until the clunk of my car door sadly shut them out.