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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Music EN (new)


Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai

Sunday 27 September, 8 p.m.
Teatro alle Tese – Arsenale
Tribute to
György Kurtág
- György Kurtág Hipartita op. 43, for violin solo (2000-2004, rev. 2007, 25')
- György Kurtág Grabstein für Stephan op. 15c for guitar and instrumental groups (1978-79, rev. 1989, 8’)
Awards Ceremony
Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
 followed by
- György Kurtág ...concertante... op. 42 for violin, viola and orchestra ( 2002-2003 rev. 2007, 25’) 
violin Hiromi Kikuchi
viola Ken Hakii
guitar Elena Casoli
conductor Zoltán Peskó
Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai
The tribute to György Kurtág, preceded by a meeting with the 83-year-old composer and the performance of his Quartet No.1 and Six Moments Musicaux, culminates in the evening of Sunday 27th September with the award ceremony for the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement to the Hungarian maestro and the performance of his most broad-ranging pieces, open to wider ensembles and encompassing the full orchestra, but in a manner that is never conventional and always respects the “poetics of the fragment” so dear to him. Introduced by a long piece for solo violin, Hipartita, the concert features two major pieces by Kurtág, Grabstein für Stephan and Concertante, performed by the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI conducted by Zoltán Pesko, a fellow citizen and former student of Kurtág, as well as a great conductor.
A shy and reclusive composer, Kurtág disseminates his works –through tributes, dedications and titles– with traces and notes on his own human biography, but it is especially to the spare notes of these works that the composer entrusts “the pages of his diary”, as András Wilheim writes, “a personal message that everyone can understand”.
Dedicated to the memory of his deceased friend, Stephan Stein, singer and husband of psychologist Marianne Stein, to whom Kurtág attributes a major role in resolving the crisis in his composition at the end of the 1950s, Grabstein für Stephan was started between 1978 and 79 and concluded ten years later. As critic Paul Petazzi wrote, the piece unfolds “in a single long but broad-ranging section (like a stone cut from a single block); the tempo is almost always ‘larghissimo’, the dynamics predominantly ‘pianissimo’ (with four p) effect, with a ‘distant’ effect... until the prevailing pianissimo and quasi immobility are torn with the most painful violence, as in a cry, which then gives way to the return of a funereal calm, and the ‘distant’ sounds”.
The concert comes to an end with the performance of Concertante, in which the orchestra is joined by soloists for whom Kurtág has conceived this broad and complex score: the violinist Hiromi Kikuchi and violist Ken Hakii, who owe their attunement to a long history of working with the Hungarian composer. Commissioned by the Leonie Sonning Foundation of Copenhagen and performed for the first time by the Danish Radio Orchestra, Concertante – for “the wide range of changes it goes through in terms of tone, tempo and texture” – won the twentieth edition of the Grawemeyer Music Prize in 2006. The long introducing piece of the concert, Hipartita, that unfolds in eight parts, is also dedicated to Hiromi Kikuchi and to his sensibility as an instrumentalist.
Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
The Hungarian composer György Kurtág (1926), “who succeeded in putting the world on a sound”, will be the protagonist of a meeting with the public and critics, on Saturday 26 September at 11.00 a.m., in the Sale Apollinee at the Teatro La Fenice.
According to the motivation of the prize, “The poetic antinomy of Kurtág sums up the tormented Hungarian sensitivity, the deep melancholy of a being always ‘elsewhere’, yet so rooted in expressive gesture. The utopia of Kurtág is expressing the whole world in a single gesture. But that gesture, that sound is a concentration of poetry, wisdom, pain and tenderness. This dream of totality is continually broken by changes in mood and temper, of colour and writing. All this in a few strokes, often a matter of seconds. A dense and light expressiveness at the same time, demanding attention, silence, sensitivity: attitudes that are rare today. Like Bartók, and later Ligeti, Kurtág also explores with great freedom the thinking and colour of the 20th-century avant-garde movements, seeking a way that is profoundly independent of the major languages of his time, and inaugurating a relationship with the world that is visionary and rigourous, free and critical”.