József Soproni at 90

His career, musician habitude, wide range of interest were basically determined by his birth in Sopron, and that he was raised at the Hungarian/Austrian region. The centuries of the historical and cultural past of Sopron and its musical life preserving valuable traditions were ideal ground for the versatile talent, moving towards the artistic profession. He was known as an exceptional organist and piano accompanist although his real dedication predestined him for composition, therefore, he pursued that major with the guidance of János Viski at the Academy of Music. His talent for pedagogy became apparent already at that time and he started his career as a teacher of the Béla Bartók Secondary School of Music in 1957. Later he continued his educational work at the Academy of Music as an appointed professor at a fairly young age of 44 years. He taught composition primarily and almost all the theoretical subjects besides that – music theory, solfége, counterpoint, methodology of music theory, score-reading. He was the rector of the Academy between 1988 and 1994.

Photo: Andrea Felvégi

Soproni cultivates mainly the traditional genres of vocal and instrumental music, and faithful to certain genres but also renews his own former conceptions during his long career. The metamorphoses of the conception are well represented at his symphonies and string quartets from the literary motivation to the most subjective dedications. Compared to his earlier concertos and duo-sonatas, his piano sonatas (over 20 in the last 25 years) go on new, experimental directions; his sets of piano pieces (primarily the Jegyzetlapok, 1974-78) written partially with pedagogical aims belong to the best in the genre.

Soproni's life-long attraction to choral music, song literature, chamber music and church music roots in the old civil musical life of Sopron. It is exemplified by his mass compositions and other church works in Latin, at a growing volume in the last decades, besides his songs inspired by Radnóti, Weöres, Rilke and Verlaine, his movements of Musica da camerabeing familiar with the soul of chamber music making.

József Soproni is a member of the Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Arts; he was awarded the Bartók Béla - Pásztory Ditta prize in 1987 and 2002, and the Kossuth Prize in 1999.

(after Katalin Komlós)