July 26, 1907. Budapest – July 23, 1998. Brussels
Exceptional talent for arts manifested in several fields in Endre Gertler's family: of his two brothers Pál became a painter while Viktor Gertler was the world-famous movie director. The youngest son, Endre chose music as a career: he studied violin with József Bloch, Oszkár Studer and then Hubay, composition with Kodály and chamber music in Weiner's class.
His years of study were terminated by a degree recital on June 2nd in 1925, where he played the Adagio and Allegro movements of the Violin Sonata in C major by Bach, the Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor by Ernst and Hubay's Waltz-Paraphrase. However his real debut had been done earlier already in a public recital in February in 1925. It seems that the program anticipated his career's later commitment to the promotion of twentieth-century music: he performed new Swiss works at the concert of the Philharmonic Society, a Violin Concerto of Hermann Suter and Volkmar Andreae's Rhapsody with great success. ‘The young artist is from that pleasantly modest and objective kind that serves the advocates of real art. A nice future can be predicted for him based on his pleasing and warm tone as well as his poseless and serious performance.' – as the critic of the concert, Sándor Jemnitz wrote.
As many other Hubay-students neither did Gertler continue his career in Hungary. He settled in Brussels in 1928, where he founded the Gertler Quartet three years later, that he developed world-famous soon. He toured the world's stages for two decades leading his ensemble between 1931 and 1951; they performed yearly in Budapest between 1932 and 1936, including Bartók's quartets among others in their programs. Following one of their concerts on March 7 in 1934, in which they performed Bartók's String Quartet No. 4 besides works of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven, Aladár Tóth wrote that: ‘These young musicians played the Bartók-work, the greatest and most difficult string quartet of the post-Beethoven era, with an amazing technical and musical supremacy… One can hear such an outstanding Bartók-interpretation by none of the Hungarian chamber music ensembles of today except the Waldbauer Quartet…'.
Gertler's personal and artistic relationship with Bartók dates from earlier; they met first in connection with the transcribing of the Sonatina for violin and piano, presumably in 1926 (the transcription was published at the end of 1931). His recollections and the data of lexicons are contradictory regarding the concerts of the two of them: factually only three concerts of them can be proven. They played the works of Bartók, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven (Kreutzer Sonata) on February 22 in 1937, at Pápa. Two concerts with all-Bartók programs were given by them on November 8 and 9 in 1938 in Antwerp and Brussels (the Violin Sonata No. 2, the transcription of the Sonatina and the First Rhapsody among others). ‘Gertler (the violinist) played well...' – wrote the composer in a letter to home following the concerts.
Bartók's music continued to be a field cultivated with central significance in his further career, as well. This interest gave a premiere of great importance for Budapest in May of 1960: the Violin Concerto No. 1 composed for Stefi Geyer by the young Bartók; and it was also Gertler who premiered both Violin Concertos in Paris, as well as the Sonata for Solo Violin in London. He recorded the complete violin works of Bartók for the Supraphon label (of which he was an exclusive soloist) that was awarded Grand Prix du Disque in 1967. His recordings are curiosities in many cases anyway: probably such rarities as the concertos of Kókai and Casella, Seiber's Fantasia concertante and the Sonata of Tardos can be found in the discographies of not many other performers.
He kept several master works of the twentieth century on his repertoire constantly: on October 26 in 1948 he premiered the Violin Concerto of Berg in Budapest being unknown at that time there. ‘We are really grateful to Endre Gertler, this artist of outstanding intelligence and talent, that he familiarized us with the Violin Concerto of Alban Berg.' – conveyed the appreciation of the Hungarian musical life Pál Járdányi.
He had a respectable career not only as a performer but as a pedagogue, as well. He was professor at the Conservatory in Brussels from 1940, at the Academy of Music in Cologne between 1954 and 1959, and at the College of Music in Hannover from 1964. He shared his rich experiences gladly in his home country, as well – he was permanent guest professor of the Bartók seminars in Pest and then in Szombathely.
He died on July 23 in 1998 in Brussels.