For the composer of Flowers we are... - for his 90th birthday

Flowers we are… – Seven notes, which not only cover the piano's entire range but practically György Kurtág's entire life’s work. Already it is there, concealed in the Op. 1 quartet, confessionally in The Sayings of Peter Bornemissza, in the Games piano pieces, in numerous solo, chamber and orchestral works. As in all great music and every significant artistic creation, it is about man's beauty, fragility, fallibility and fears. And as is: Kurtág's art.

The whole musical world celebrates Kurtág on February 19. Our birthday present is two new publications: one is the piano piece composed in 2013, entitled …couple egyptienne en route vers l’inconnu… (…an Egyptian couple on the way to the unknown…) which was inspired by a more than 4000-year-old Egyptian statue. The other is the reproduction of the music notebook, into which, over 32 years, György Kurtág copied a succession of newly ready movements of the series of Games for Zoltán Kocsis. This notebook – Kocsis Zoli's manuscript book – is a constant participant even now in those concerts where Kocsis plays Kurtág's works.

Kurtág has a seventy-year composing career behind him: orchestral and chamber works, concertos, choruses, vocal and instrumental works. Over the past decades this enormous body of works has become classically elevated: he is one of the few of his contemporaries whose works are played not only in the isolated setting of contemporary music concerts and festivals, but which also form part of the traditional concert repertoire. Editio Musica Budapest (with the exception of a few compositions which appeared in the Viennese Universal Edition) has been his principal publisher for more than five decades. This means a continuing working relationship even today, since without the composer's collaboration not only would the scores' publication be impossible, but so too would satisfying the hunger for information about Kurtág's works in international concert life. All of us working on the publication of his new scores and attending to the old ones ask for his help almost daily, and he too finds us immediately if he has any request. This joint labour is always an exciting challenge and a constant learning process, both in a professional and personal sense. Because alongside Kurtág, even with an adult mind, you cannot but learn, and not only about his music but generally about everything that is important in music and art.

Kurtág, even now at 90, is young: his emotional and intellectual energy daily belie the number of years he has lived. In the last few years he has written numerous piano and chamber works, and in the summer of last year he celebrated his one-year-older, by then seriously ill colleague, Pierre Boulez, with a new orchestral work. Apart from all this, since 2010 he has been working on his life's greatest artistic undertaking and, in the interest of his Beckett opera’s completion, he daily shames even the young with proof of his strength of spirit.


We wish him continuing activity and energy, affectionately


the Editio Musica Budapest team

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