20. Edinburgh

After internment Gál returned to Edinburgh. But without employment, accommodation or source of income the prospects were not promising. An opportunity presented itself in the form of the vacant post of caretaker and fire warden at an evacuated girls' school. Characteristically, Gál used this opportunity to bring musicians into the house regularly for a 'Collegium Musicum'. On each occasion a programme was rehearsed and performed for the family members. The participants still recall the splendid sandwiches which Hanna produced on these occasions, in spite of the war-time rationing.

The Gáls' troubles were not, however, at an end: their younger son Peter, evidently unable to cope with the stresses of the situation, took his own life. The birth of a daughter, Eva, in 1944 can be seen as a resolve to overcome this devastating tragedy.

With the end of the war the situation for the Gáls began to improve markedly. First, the new Professor of Music at Edinburgh University, Sydney Newman, obtained for him a permanent teaching post in the music faculty, providing financial security and a focus for his activities. Ironically, shortly afterwards he was also offered a teaching post at the Vienna Academy, but after so many upheavals he could not bear to uproot himself yet again, especially as he was now in his mid fifties. He remained active at the university well beyond retirement age, and resided in Edinburgh until the end of his life. He became a well-known personality in the musical life of the city, as composer, performer, scholar and teacher.

Gál was also involved with Rudolf Bing (who was also from Vienna), then director of the Glyndebourne Festival, and later director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in discussions about the possibility of founding a festival in Edinburgh. Gál was sceptical; it did not seem possible that Edinburgh, then something of a cultural backwater, could rival Salzburg. Bing brought the plan to fruition, however, with the establishment of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947, which went on to become one of the most important cultural events in the world. Gál was closely involved with the festival for many years; he even took part in a memorable performance of Brahms's Three Vocal Quartets (Op. 64) and Liebeslieder-Walzer (Op. 52) and Schubert's F-minor Fantasy with Clifford Curzon, Irmgard Seefried, Kathleen Ferrier, Horst Günter and Julius Patzak in September, 1952.

Gál's musical roots were still firmly anchored in the Austro-German tradition, and he never became part of the cultural establishment in his adopted homeland. As early as 1948 he returned to Vienna to take part in a performance. In the same year he went back to Germany for the first performance of his De Profundis and again in 1956 for that of Lebenskreise, commissioned by the Mainz Choir on the occasion of their 125th anniversary. In 1958 he was awarded the Austrian State Prize, and with the money he and his family spent their first post-war holiday in Austria. He also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Edinburgh (1948) and Mainz (1977), the Order of the British Empire (1964), and the Grand Order of the Austrian Republic 'Literis et Artibus' (1981).