The legendary composer and pianist György Kurtág was awarded the RPS Gold Medal on Sunday 1 December 2013, following a concert performance alongside his pianist wife, Márta, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The Gold Medal was awarded by RPS Chairman John Gilhooly, who read the citation:
Today, in awarding the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal to György Kurtág we celebrate the complete musician: composer, pianist and teacher – they are inseparable from the man.
His compositional voice shines out with a unique intensity - minutely expressive, elusive, sometimes humorous, deeply humane, and fearless in its emotional honesty. His music is distinctly his own but resonates with the composers of the past that he loves: Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Bartók, Webern.
As we have just witnessed in his performances as a pianist, with Marta, his wife of over 60 years, we have the perfect partnership: their complete accord creates no barriers to the music; there seems to be no difference between their symbiotic personal relationship and the music they make together.
He is an inspirational and fastidious teacher. As professor of chamber music at the Franz Liszt Academy of music in Budapest for over 20 years he has taught the whole repertoire of classical chamber music with utter concentration and attention to detail. It was from Kurtág that the pianist András Schiff says he learned “that music is not just a matter of life and death, it's more important than that."
We applaud György Kurtág for his humanity, originality and integrity throughout his lifelong musical journey. In the music of this most considered composer there is not a single bar that is not unmistakably the work of a great artist.
The RPS Gold Medal was initiated in 1870 to commemorate the centenary of Beethoven’s birth and bears the image of Beethoven. It is the Society’s highest honour and is awarded internationally for the most outstanding musicianship.
Graham Sheffield, Director of Arts, British Council: Nobody could ever have invented the RPS. I love it for the support it gives to musicians, and for its commitment to an inspiring future for music.
DID YOU KNOW?
In October 1970, Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto received its world premiere, having been commissioned by the RPS. The soloist was Rostropovich, who received our highest honour, the Gold Medal, the same year.