György Kurtág, 85-years-young today

György Kurtág, 85-years-young today
György Kurtág & Marta Kurtág. Photo by Benjamin Chelly (

My first intro to György Kurtág was the series Leaving Home, which looked into the whys and hows of the twentieth-century music. The series narrator Simon Rattle at the beginning of the Kurtág segment : “His music sounds as if all the notes had to be compressed to fit into a small box full of secrets, as though everything had been boiled down to its essence and hidden.”

In December last year, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre presented A Tribute to György Kurtág at the Canadian Opera Company’s noon concert series. Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó sung the Attila Jószef Fragments for solo voice, followed by the Three Old Inscriptions for voice and piano. Then she joined John Hess at the piano and they played a few piano four-hands from Games. Very interesting concert which left us wanting for more Kurtág.

Fog Canon, a duet from Games, is actually played with elbows:

Opening the performance with a set of short pieces for solo voice can’t be easy, but the audience was pulled in immediately. Mezzo Krisztina Szabó sings the Attila Jószef Fragments by Kurtág, December 2010 in the packed RBA at the COC:

How dazzling and puzzling do the Games get? Very. Proof in this full download, courtesy of Virag1904:


5 thoughts on “György Kurtág, 85-years-young today

  1. I have listened to all three excerpts and, strangely, rather enjoyed the third. Whilst the orchestral piece is texturally compelling, ( would love to see a score ) and the visual aspect of the second certainly enhances the listening experience, ( and it does look as the the score they are reading is traditionally written out rather than graphic ) the resonances of the third with it’s repeated octave motifs, contrasting clusters and diverse dynamics suits my listening mood today…. and I love the painting. Thank you.

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