Kurtág: 6 Moments Musicaux, Op.44

Program Note

Hungarian composer György Kurtág was born in Lugoj, a city newly ceded to Romania following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War One. After initial studies in Budapest at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Kurtág spent a pivotal year in Paris, despite travel restrictions placed on Hungarians in the Communist era. There Kurtág studied with Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud, and was introduced to the work of Anton Webern and Samuel Beckett.
Beckett remains a lifelong inspiration in Kurtág’s work. In addition to settings of Beckett texts throughout his career, Kurtág gives the title “Footfalls” to the second of his Six Moments Musicaux, evoking Beckett’s 1975 play of the same name. Moreover, Kurtág provides the following poem, by the Hungarian poet Endre Ady, to accompany the same movement:
No One Comes
Kipp-kopp, as if a woman were coming
On a dark stairway, trembling, running
My heart stops, I await something wonderful
In the autumn dusk, confident.
Kipp-kopp, my heart starts up once again
I hear it once again, to my deep and great pleasure
In a soft tempo, in a secret rhythm
As if someone were coming, were coming
Kipp-kopp, now a funeral twilight
A misty, hollow melody sounds
The autumn evening. Today no one come to me
Today no one will come to me, no one.
In the fourth movement, Kurtág memorializes György Sebők, the Hungarian pianist and pedagogue who died in 1999.