Lendvai was born in Budapest. He graduated from the National Music Academy of Budapest, studying with Hans von Koessler. He also studied with Giacomo Puccini in Milan. From 1906 on, he lived in Germany, where he began his teaching career. From 1913 to 1914, he taught at the J.-Dalcroze Institute in Hellerau, near Dresden, where he married the photographer Erna Dircksen. From 1914 to 1920, he taught composition at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory in Berlin and in 1923 choral singing at the Volksmusikschule in Hamburg.
In 1933, he emigrated from Germany due to the Nazi regime and after that worked as a music teacher in Kenninghall, England. After the war, he headed the Györ Conservatory of Music. He became interested in Béla Bartók's music there.
Lendvai wrote one opera, Elga (1916, to a libretto by Gerhart Hauptmann), the festival music Völkerfreiheit (1930), a symphony, Archaic dances, Scherzo for orchestra, 3 Pieces for organ Op. 4, chamber music, choral works and songs. Lendvai's choral music influenced many other choral composers.
- Erwin Lendvai, Dictionnaire de la musique, Grand Larousse encyclopédique (French)
- German Wikipedia article
- Italian Wikipedia article
- Hugo Leichtentritt, E. Lendvai. Berlin 1912.
- Gesine Schröder, Zum Streit der Männerchöre in den Zwanziger Jahren: Eine Erinnerung an Erwin Lendvai", in: 4. Tagung AIM Gender in Stuttgart-Hohenheim, 2.-4.2.2006 (pdf (German))
- Gesine Schröder, The Decline of Men’s Choir in 20th Century Germany: An Homage to Erwin Lendvai; 2010/2013 (pdf)
- Free scores by Erwin Lendvai at the International Music Score Library Project
- Texts of his songs
- The Boston Orchestra; A New Symphony by Lendvai Heard at the Fourth Evening Concert," The New York Times, February 21, 1913.
- Listing of some of Lendvai's choral works
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