In memoriam Márta Kurtág (1927-2019)

Pianist Márta Kurtág, György Kurtág's wife, his companion of inspiration and creation, passed away on October 17, 2019. She was 92, of which she spent 72 years on the side of her husband. She was the first critic of every composition in progress, the first consultant of every single musical idea, and a performing partner in Kurtág's piano works for solo and duet.

She was born on October 1, 1927, in Esztergom (Northern Hungary). She received her piano degree at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, studying with István Antal, Pál Kadosa and Lajos Hernádi. She taught at the Béla Bartók Secondary School of Music, then from 1972 until her retirement at the Franz Liszt College of Music Teacher Training. As a soloist and chamber musician, she was a regular actor in the Hungarian music scene from her youth, and has made several recordings. Since the 1990s, she was a major international musician, performing with her husband at Palais Garnier (Festival d'Automne a Paris), Cité de La Musique (Paris), Jerusalem Music Center, Library of Congress (Washington D.C.), New York's Carnegie Hall, on the stage of the Tonhalle in Zurich, she was a celebrated guest at the Aldeburgh Festival, the Salzburg Mozart Week or the Vienna Festive Weeks.

In February 2017, she and her husband received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in recognition of their outstanding musical work and lifelong musical co-operation. At the award ceremony, Mitsuko Uchida praised Kurtág's music and the piano play of the Kurtág couple: Kurtág is inspirational and fiercely honest but there is also a deep love that glows through his music. This may be an expression of his extraordinary relationship with his wife, Márta. Anybody who has heard the Kurtágs play, four hands, would know what that means. We know György Kurtág, the great composer, but with him always is Márta, the wonderful pianist. They live together in music. … We have all been so lucky to have known them and their music..."

We, working with Kurtág on publishing his works for decades, have been lucky enough to participate in this day for day. Márta was Kurtág's music partner not only beside the piano but also in his work on scores. Her advice and comments helped our work, as well. Without her, many years of publishing work on the opera Fin de partie would have been much more difficult. We owe her eternal gratitude for this.

We will miss her gentle smile, her caring love, her humour, helping even in difficult situations, but her always pertinent critical comments and advice will also be missing.

We'll keep her in our memory.

UMP Editio Musica Budapest