György Kurtág

Biography

Born: February 19, 1926; Lugoj, Romania  
György Kurtág is one of the more highly esteemed composers of the late twentieth century. He is not well known outside of Europe, writing little and not prone to acts of self-promotion. Most composers would not have been able to establish a career in this manner.

His hometown changed hands from Hungary to Romania. What he saw while under Communist rule before he went west no doubt shaped the peculiar tensions of his music, which often
Read more sounds like lessons learned through surviving persecution. In 1940, he studied piano with Magda Kardos and composition from Max Eisikovits, at Temesvár (Timisoara, Romania). He then moved to Budapest in 1946, enrolling in the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, studying composition with Sándor Veress and Ferenc Farkas, as well as piano with Pál Kadosa and chamber music with Leó Weiner. These people remained proud Hungarians, though war had altered the international borders drastically. Kurtág officially became a Hungarian citizen in 1948. In the early part of the 1950s, he continued his studies of composition, chamber music, and piano. He was an outstanding student, winning the Erkl prize in 1954 and 1956. In 1957 - 1958 he went west for a one-year stay in Paris, studying with Marianne Stein and attending courses of Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen.

Though the standard of living in democratic France was no doubt higher than communist Hungary, Kurtág returned home as repetiteur of soloists with the Hungarian National Philharmonia throughout most the 1960s. He was also professor at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, first of piano, then of chamber music. In 1971, he had his second appointment in the west. This time it was a one-year stay in West Berlin as grantee of the DAAD scholarship. His reputation began to gain more ground.

What little he had written demonstrated itself as the work of genius, beginning with the brief Quartetto per archi opus 1 from 1959. A perfect synthesis of Webern and Bartók, this work has an undistracted intelligence about it, a courage that intellectuals required to survive the tyranny of the Soviets. He did seem entirely at odds with the Communists, having written some works with anti-American sentiment, but this appeared exclusively before his visit to Paris in the 1950s. The 1960s and 1970s were been fairly uneventful, and his catalog continued to grow at a startlingly slow rate. However, what works he had written made a large impression.

After his retirement from the Liszt Academy in 1986, he lived in Germany and Austria. In 1987, one year after leaving Hungary, he immediately became a member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Munich, as well as a member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. His works were getting more sought after, and he was relentlessly sought after as an instructor.

Living at a comparatively brisker, international pace, in 1993 he was awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale by the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, for his Grabstein für Stephan and Op. 27 No. 2 (Double Concerto); the Herder Prize by the Freiherr-vom-Stein Stiftung, Hamburg; and the Premio Feltrinelli by the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome. That same year, Kurtág was invited to stay in Berlin as composer in residence with the Berliner Philharmoniker for two years. This was followed by a residency with the Wiener Konzerthaus and, in 1998, the Kossuth Prize from the Hungarian states for his life's work.

Kurtág had carved his place in the Western world while still behind the Iron Curtain, emerging in the 1980s as an indisputably necessary voice. Read less

There are 93 György Kurtág recordings available.

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Works

György Kurtág


MOST POPULAR WORKS
No. 1. Poco sostenuto
No. 2. Agitato, non allegro
No. 3. Risoluto
No. 4. Lento
No. 5. Allegretto
No. 6. Vivo
No. 7. Adagio
No. 8. Vivo
I. (merkwurdige Pirouetten des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler)
II. (E.*: der begrenzte Kreis...) -
III. (...und wieder zuckt es schmerzlich F.* um die Lippen...)
IV. (Felho valek, mar sut a nap...)
V. In der Nacht
VI. Abschied (Meister Raro entdeckt Guillaume de Machaut)
I. Lento
II. Agitato
III. Vivo
IV. Molto sostenuto
V. Rubato, improvisando
VI. Grave, ma con slancia
VII. Mesto
VIII. Rubato, molto agitato
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: The Carenza Jig
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: In Nomine - all'ongherese (Damjanich emlekko)
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Hommage a J.S.B
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Nepdalfele - Im Volkston
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Anziksz Kellerannanak (Postcard to Anna Keller)
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Hommage a John Cage - Faltering words
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: ...feerie d'automne...
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Perpetuum mobile - Vadas Agnesnek
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Doloroso - Garzulyeknak
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: In memoriam Blum Thomas
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 1. Adagio
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 2. Lamentoso - disperato, con moto
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 3. Molto sostenuto
WORKS
I. 3 koan (3 Koans): No. 3. Koan III
I. 3 koan (3 Koans): No. 1. Koan I
I. 3 koan (3 Koans): No. 2. Koan II
II. Mar csak azt a jovo idot kivanom (Longing for the Future): No. 1. Koan Bel Canto
II. Mar csak azt a jovo idot kivanom (Longing for the Future): No. 2. T.S. Eliot-erme (T.S. Eliot Coin)
III. 3 onarckep (3 Self-portraits): No. 2. Mar mocsarasodom (I am turning into a swamp)
III. 3 onarckep (3 Self-portraits): No. 1. H. kiralyfi, mostohaapja elott (Prince H. standing before his step-father)
III. 3 onarckep (3 Self-portraits): No. 3. Onarckep 1965-bol (Self-portrait from 1965)
No. 1. Poco sostenuto
No. 2. Agitato, non allegro
No. 3. Risoluto
No. 4. Lento
No. 5. Allegretto
No. 6. Vivo
No. 7. Adagio
No. 8. Vivo
I. (merkwurdige Pirouetten des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler)
II. (E.*: der begrenzte Kreis...) -
III. (...und wieder zuckt es schmerzlich F.* um die Lippen...)
IV. (Felho valek, mar sut a nap...)
V. In der Nacht
VI. Abschied (Meister Raro entdeckt Guillaume de Machaut)
Doina
Alapelemek (Fundamentals) (2)
Mint az mezei viragoc ... (Like the flowers of the field...)
Magyar nyelvlecke kulfoldieknek (A Hungarian Lesson for Foreigners)
Maros Judit es az anyakonyv (Fanfare to Judit Maros' wedding)
Les Adieux (in Janaceks Manier)
I. Tschej (Declension of the pronoun 'whose')
II. Rasryw (The Break)
III. Ljubowj na mesjaz (Love for a month)
IV. No kak usnatj mnje
V. Oh, nasidanije - ljubowj (O love, the edifier!)
VI. I otwersta dlja menja (And the door is open for me)
I. Lento
II. Agitato
III. Vivo
IV. Molto sostenuto
V. Rubato, improvisando
VI. Grave, ma con slancia
VII. Mesto
VIII. Rubato, molto agitato
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: The Carenza Jig
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: In Nomine - all'ongherese (Damjanich emlekko)
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Hommage a J.S.B
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Nepdalfele - Im Volkston
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Anziksz Kellerannanak (Postcard to Anna Keller)
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Hommage a John Cage - Faltering words
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: ...feerie d'automne...
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Perpetuum mobile - Vadas Agnesnek
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: Doloroso - Garzulyeknak
Signs, Games and Messages for Violin: In memoriam Blum Thomas
I. I skuschno, i grustno (So weary, so wretched)
II. Notsch. Ulitsa. Fonar. Apteka (Night, an empty street, a lamp, a drug-store)
III. Wjetscherom sinim (Blue evening)
IV. Kuda mne djetsa w atom janwarje (Where can I go to in this January?)
V. Raspjatije (Crucifixion)
VI. Vremia prischlo (It's time)
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 1. Adagio
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 2. Lamentoso - disperato, con moto
Kurtág: Stele Op.33 - 3. Molto sostenuto


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