"Jatekok" is the Hungarian word translated as "
Games " in English and " Spiel " in German."Jatekok"
is the seven - volume collection of piano pieces composed by the
Hungarian composer, Kurtag Gyorgy. The first four volumes were
composed from 1973 to 1976 and were published in 1979 in Hungary,
later in Germany and other European countries, and in Japan theywere
published in 1989. The fifth, sixth and seventh volumes were published
in 1995. It is considered the most valuable piano piece collection
since Bartok's at the end of the 20th century. In Japan more than
seven years have passed since the publication of the Japanese
edition, but even now very few musicians know about this collection,
an undesirable state of affairs.
In September 1994 at Budapest, Kurtag told me the motive for composing "Jatekok" as follows; "In 1960 my son became six years old, and he began to learn to play the piano, and I composed for him "five little piano pieces" that is now in the first volume p.12-13. But his piano teacher was not interested in them, and my idea was not developed. Later in 1973, I composed "Hommage a Kadosa - 12 Mikroludes" of the second volume p.35-38 for the celebration of my teacher, Kadosa Pal's, birthday. In 1974 I traveled to Italy and other places, and I received much inspiration and returned to Hungary with an impulse to compose something. At that time, a good time, Marianne Teoke, who is the Pedagogical Collaborator of "Jatekok", asked me to compose some pieces for children, and I began to compose at a stretch, and still now I continue."
I think "Jatekok" and Kurtag's idea are especially significant for the
Japanese and Japanese piano teaching. For this reason I have long wanted to write an introduction to "Jatekok". When I first told Prof.Kurtag that I
was going to write an introduction of "Jatekok", he said, "That would be
wonderful. I also tried to write one, but I could not. I am looking forward
to reading your introduction. "I sent him my first introduction in 1994. He
said, with great disappointment, "Miyako, it is not good. You wrote that
"Jatekok" is a beautiful musical world. But you should never use the word,
beautiful for music." This upset me, but I tried to re-write a better one.
When Prof. Kurtag read my second introduction, he said, "I tried, but I
could not. Miyako, you tried and your second attempt is better, but you,
like me, have failed. I think that only a musician like Bartok could do it!
If you write something about my pieces, it should be true, but at the same
time it should not be true. I asked him, " I think "Jatekok" is especially
important for the Japanese. It should be a great help for Japanese piano
teaching. The Japanese edition was published in 1989, but still now nobody knows how to play and use this collection in Japan. A good introduction is strongly necessary in Japan. Do you have any suggestions ?" Kurtag said," You should play, and also should explain on an one to one basis while playing but, once you write something in words, it can become false ; this meaning tends to be fixed, whereas, in reality, for me, the meaning can vary, according to the player, the listener, the circumstances of the moment."
This episode shows Kurtag's character, I think. For Kurtag, just the
truth is important, and the truth he means is always changeable. For Kurtag, the music is a human's communication, always changeable, and every time when it is performed, it has a variety of meanings.