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September 22 , 2009

Lifetime Achievement Award for Kurtág

On Sunday 27 September, composer György Kurtág receives the Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement at the 53rd International Festival of Contemporary Music, in the wider context of the Venice Bienale. The awards ceremony will take place at Venice’s Teatro alle Tese.

The award to György Kurtág was recommended by the Director of the Festival and approved by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia. “Kurtág is the man who put the world into a sound”, writes director Luca Francesconi. “Kurtág’s poetic antinomy perfectly summarizes the poignancy of Hungarian sensibility, the profound melancholy of a being who is always ‘elsewhere’, yet so deeply rooted in the expressive gesture. Forever on the brink, suspended between East and West, between rigor and the spark of irrationality. Kurtág’s utopia is to express the entire world in a single gesture. But that gesture, that sound is a concentrate of poetry, wisdom, pain and tenderness. This dream of totality is constantly broken by changes in mood and in and in atmosphere, in colour and in writing. In just a few beats, often in just a few seconds. An expressivity that is both dense and light at the same time, that demands attention, silence, sensibility: attitudes that are extremely rare in the present day.”

The Hungarian composer has won many honours and awards, both at home and abroad, including: the Prix de Composition Musicale of the Fondation Prince Pierre in Monaco, the Herder Prize of the Freiherr-vom-Stein Stiftung in Hamburg, the Premio Feltrinelli from the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (1993/95), the Österreicchischer Staatpreis für EuropäischeKomponisten and the Denis de Rougemont Prize from the Association of Festivals (1994), the Österreicchisches Ehrenzeichen of the Austrian Republic and the Muiskpreis from Ernst von Siemens Stiftung (1998), and the Grawemeyer Music Prize (2006).

Recordings of György Kurtág’s music on ECM include: “Hommage à R. Sch.” (with Kim Kashkashian, Robert Levin and Edward Brunner), “Musik für Streichinstrumente” (with the Keller Quartet, Miklós Perényi and the composer), “Játékok” (with Marta and György Kurtág), “Signs, Games and Messages” (with Kurt Widmer, Hiromi Kikuchi, Ken Hakii, Stefan Metz, and Mircea Ardelanu), and “Kafka Fragmente” (with Juliane Banse and András Keller).