Pál Kadosa

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Biography

Born: September 6, 1903; Leva   Died: March 30, 1983; Budapest, Hungary  
Kadosa was a significant figure in Hungarian musical life as well as education in the generation after Bartók (b. 1882) and Kodály (b. 1886), who was the young composer-pianist's composition professor at the Budapest (later renamed Liszt) Academy between 1921 and 1927. His keyboard mentor there was Arnold Székely. Although born in what is today Levice, in the Czech Republic, Kadosa's extramusical education was completed at the Gymnasium in Read more Nagyszombat, the same year he matriculated in the Budapest Academy. Not yet twenty, he played his first public concert in 1923, which established Kadosa's lifelong reputation as a concert artist of uncommon excellence, very much in the style of Bartók. He introduced himself as a composer in 1917 - 1918 with seven Bagatelles, coupled with three piano suites (1921) and Three Studies (1923) as Op. 1 -- the first of seventy works. However, he stopped composing after he wrote his Sinfonietta in 1973.

Kadosa began a career of pedagogy following graduation in 1927 at the Fodor School in Budapest, where he remained until 1943, and thereafter taught at the Goldmark School of Music in the capital for two years. During this period he composed copiously: two piano concertos (the second one called Concertino), one each for viola and violin, a Chamber Symphony, three divertimentos, two cantatas, two string quartets among fourteen chamber works, thirty-six songs and choruses (including three each of Jewish marching and Hasid songs, plus settings of Jewish folk songs for violin and piano), three of his four piano sonatas, and a large number of solo keyboard works. His early style combined Magyar-influenced folk music with an overlay of neo-Classic Stravinsky and modernists in the Weimar Republic (notably Hindemith and Hanns Eisler). A comparative mellowing in the 1938 Piano Concertino was replaced by a period of starkly polyphonic linear counterpoint, rhythmically propulsive, motivically (rather than melodically) violent music following World War II. Between 1949 and 1951, he wrote deliberately non-provocative works that ended up, as Ferenc Bónis wrote in The New Grove, in a cul-de-sac of simplicity. Kadosa reverted to complexities, including twelve-tone elements, albeit in moderation, that defined his terminal style after the fourth of his eight symphonies (composed between 1941 - 1968). He also wrote two more piano concertos (four altogether) and a second violin concerto.

Between World War I and World War II, Kadosa founded a Modern Music Society to promote Hungarian performances of new music, which became his nation's branch of the ISCM. He and colleagues played only contemporary music at their concerts, at one of which the audience actually demanded an encore of Stravinsky's Piano Music Rag. Following World War II, the Liszt Academy appointed Kadosa professor of piano in 1945, where his pupil and later assistant was Romanian-born György Kurtág, the leading Hungarian composer of his generation until György Ligeti all but eclipsed him. In the postwar years, Kadosa served as vice-president of the Hungarian Arts Council (1945 - 1949), a member of the Hungarian Composers' Union (1949 - 1953), and after 1953, as president of the nation's performing rights bureau. Virtually every honor Hungary could bestow on Kadosa it did, to which the British added honorary membership in the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 1967.

Today, other than recordings of Kadosa's music, he is best remembered as the teacher not only of Kurtág and Ligeti but of pianists András Schiff, Zoltán Kocsis, Deszö Ranki, and Balász Sokolay (who also studied with Kocsis). Kadosa, who died at the age seventy-nine, remained active until the end, teaching and promoting new music. Read less

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