Kurtag Gyorgy’s biography

Kurtag Gyorgy's biography

  Kurtag's biography is as follows, according to the book entitled"Contemporary Hungarian Composers"(2), edited by Balint Andras Varga, published in 1989 in Budapest, and recent ones from 1993 according to the supplement by Editio Musica Budapest.


 Gyorgy Kurtag was born at Lugos (Lugoj, Romania) on 19 February, 1926. From 1940, he took piano lessons from Magda Kardos and studied composition with Dr.Max Eisikovits at Timisoara. Having moved to Budapest, he enrolled at the Academy of Music in 1946, where his professors included Sandor Veress and Ferenc Farkas (composition), Pal Kadosa (piano) and Leo Weiner (chamber music).

  In 1957-1958, Kurtag studied in Paris with Marianne Stein and attended the courses of Messiaen and Milhaud. As a result, he re-thought his ideas on composition and marked the first work he wrote after his return to Budapest, a string quartet, as his Opus 1.

From 1958-1963, Kurtag worked as repetiteur with the Bela Bartok Music Secondary School in Budapest. In 1960-1968, he was repetiteur with soloists of the National Philharmonic. From 1967, he was assistant to Pal Kadosa at the Academy of Music, in 1968 he was appointed professor of chamber music, a post he held until his retirement in 1986.

  Kurtag was awarded the Erkel Prize in 1954, 1956 and 1969. He was decorated with the Kossuth Prize in 1973. In 1980, he was created Merited Artist of the Hungarian People's Republic, in 1984 he became Outstanding Artist and also received the Bartok-Pasztory Award. In 1986, Kurtag was decorated with the Order of the Star with the Golden Wreath by the Hungarian Government.

  In 1985, he was appointed Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. In 1987, he was elected a corresponding member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schonen Kunste. In the same year, he also became a member of the Akademie der Kunste in West Berlin.

  In 1993, he was awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale by the Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco, for his Grabstein fur Stephan and Op.27 No.2 (Double Concerto), the Herder Prize by the Freiherr -vom -Stein (Hamburg, Germany), and the Premio Feltrinell (by the Accademia dci Lincei, Rome, Italy). In 1993-1995, he was the composer in residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker, guest at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany. In 1994, he was awarded the Osterreichischere Staatspreis fur Europaeische Komponisten ( Austrian State Award for European Composers), and the Denis de Rougemont Prize ( by the European Association of Festivals). In 1995-96, he was the composer in residence at the Wiener Konzerthaus(Vienna, Austria). In 1996, he was awarded the Kossuth Prize for his life work(by the Hungarian states). In 1998, he got Ernst von Siemens Musikpreises in Munchen.

Kurtag's Works (selection)

String Quartet Op.1(1959)

Wind Quinted Op.2(1959)

Eight Piano Pieces Op.3(1960)

Eight Duos Op.4(1960-61)

  for violin and cimbalom

Splinters Op.6b(1973)

  for cimbalom

Splinters Op.6c(1973)

  for piano

The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza Op.7(1963-68)

  Concerto for soprano and piano

Four Songs to Poems by Janos Pilinszky Op.11(1973-75)

  for bass or bass-baritone and chamber ensemble


  for piano, in four books

S.K.Remembrance Noise Op.12(1974-75)

 for soprano solo and violin

Hommage a Andras Mihaly Op.13(1977-78)

  12 Microludes for string quartet

The Little Predicament Op.15b(1978)

 for piccolo, trombone and guitar

Grabstein fur Stephan Op.15c(1989)

  for guitar and groups of instruments

Hommage a R.Sch. op.15d(1990)

  for clarinet, viola and piano

Omaggio a Luigi Nono Op.16(1979)

  for mixed choir

Message of the Late Miss R.V.Troussova Op.17(1978-80)

 for soprano and chamber ensemble

Scenes from a Novel Op.19(1981-82)

  for soprano, violin, double-bass and cimbalom

Attila Jozsef-Fragments Op.20(1981-82)

  for soprano solo

Kafka-Fragments Op.24(1985-1986)

  for soprano and violin

Transcriptions from Machaut to J.S.Bach(1985)

 for piano(duet and six hands)and for two pianos

Three Old Inscriptions Op.25(1986)

  for soprano and piano

・・・quasi una fantasia・・・Op.27(1987-88)

  for piano and groups of instruments

Op.27 No.2(known as Double Concerto)(1989-90)

  for piano and violincello solo and two chamber ensembles

Officium Breve in Memoriam Andreae Szervanszky Op.28(1988-89)

  for string quartet

Samuel Beckett:What in the Word Op.30b(1991)

 for alto solo (recitation),voices and chamber ensembles

The Way of Life Op.32(1992)

  for two pianos and two corni di bassetto

Songs of Despair and Sorrow Op.18(1980-1994)

  six Russian Choruses for Mixed Choir with Instruments

ΣΤΗΛΗ(STELE) Op.33(1994)

Dedicated to Claudio Abbado and Berliner Philharmoniker

  for large orchestra

Games (1975-1993)

  Book 5,6 for piano

  Book7 for piano duet and duo

Einige Satze aus der Sudelbuchen Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs Op.37(1996) 

  for solo voice