In memoriam: Mary Térey-Smith

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 11:56am
Western Today staff

Mary Térey-Smith, a faculty member with the Western Washington University Music Department from 1967 to 2001, passed away on July 30, 2014.

At Western, Térey-Smith was the head of the musicology/music history programs and music director of the opera workshop for eight years.

Born in Hungary, Térey-Smith began her career studying conducting and composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, studying conducting and composition with Janos Ferencsik, Ferenc Farka, Janos Viski and folk music with Zoltan Kodaly. Upon her graduation at age 19, she was engaged as resident conductor of the Tatabanya Symphony Orchestra and worked as a vocal coach for the Hungarian State Opera until 1956, when revolution forced her to leave the country. After emigrating to Canada and working as a coach and conductor at the Opera School in Toronto, she undertook graduate studies and was awarded her doctorate in musicology by the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York in 1971.

Térey-Smith’s activities as a musicologist focused on Baroque and early Classical operas in France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Portugal and on orchestral practice in opera accompaniment. She was particularly interested in the works of Rameau. She served as artistic adviser for and collaborating with Hungarian ensemble Capella Savaria. She also published numerous articles in various periodicals, edited music, wrote book reviews and contributed a number of essays for the New Revised Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. She appeared on numerous musical recordings as a conductor.

As a WWU faculty member, in 1970 she founded the university’s Collegium Musicum, a group that focused on 17th and 18th century vocal and instrumental repertory and quickly developed an enviable reputation as one of the finest such university groups in the country. In addition to performances in the U.S. and Canada, Collegium Musicum toured Europe six times between 1990 and 2000, giving concerts in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Romania. Conducted by Western's Bertil Van Boer, the Collegium Musicum continues to play concerts each spring on campus.

She continued to study ethnomusicology, conduct and perform until her death.

Tentative plans for a memorial service for Mary Térey-Smith are being made for the fall, probably October or November.