kocsis zoltan photo by szellZoltán Kocsis (photo by Széll) conductor, pianist, composer, General Music Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gifted with fiery temperament, Kocsis has multiple talents: at the age of 60 he has not ceased to be re-interpreting himself with overflowing passion. (Alain Cochard, ConcertClassic.com 2012. 08.06.)

Zoltán Kocsis was born in Budapest on 30 May 1952. He started playing the piano at the age of five. His international career began at the age of eighteen, when he won the Beethoven Piano Competition of the Hungarian Radio. Within a few years he exploded onto the international concert scene.

He appeared extensively in Europe, South and North America as well as all major venues in the Far East. One of the most important episodes was Sviatoslav Richter’s invitation to his festival in France, followed by the two of them giving four-hand recitals.

He has been a regular guest performer at major festivals, including Edinburgh, Paris, Tours, Luzern, La Roque d’Anthéron, Salzburg, Prague, Menton, Verbier, etc., and has worked under the baton of Claudio Abbado, Christoph von Dohnányi, Edo de Waart, Charles Mackerras, Lovro von Matačić, Charles Dutoit, Herbert Blomstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas and Lorin Maazel.

Kocsis has performed as a soloist with many of the leading orchestras of the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Viennes Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a regular guest at master classes and festivals.  

Recording for many labels, including Hungaroton, Nippon Columbia, Phonogram and Quintana, Kocsis for many years recorded exclusively for Philips Classics. His recordings have won numerous awards, most significantly the Edison Award (for his recording of Bartok’s piano concerto) and the Gramophone Award (for his Debussy album). Zoltán Kocsis’s recording of the complete solo piano works of Bartók were brought out in a series consisting of eight CDs by Universal/Philips in May 2005.

He was a founding member of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and has worked as general music director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra since 1997. The orchestra and Kocsis’s name are linked with numerous successful concert tours around Europe and the Far East as well as a great many world and Hungarian premières. The orchestra has given over 200 concerts in 40 countries since 1997. In addition to engaging world-famous Hungarian and foreign soloists, the National Philharmonic often introduces gifted young musicians as well in their concerts. The general music director’s tasks include the conscious development of the orchestra to create a distinctive sonority that marks it out among others. His experience as a soloist himself has helped him develop a special relationship with other soloists. His art is characterised by a brilliant sense of proportion and style, and the quest for artistic truth. He attaches special importance to performing works which have never or rarely been played. He is committed to promoting the works of contemporary, specifically Hungarian composers (Bartók, Ligeti, Kurtág, Farkas, Jeney, Sáry, Vidovszky, Dukay, Csíky etc.). Under his baton the National Philharmonic Orchestra premiered – among other works – Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder. He re-staged Debussy’s opera Pelléas and Mélisande after forty-four years in 2007. Richard Strauss’ Daphne (2010, Miskolc International Opera Festival) was welcomed by critics and led to a revision of the former "official" viewpoint: “Kocsis again showed that his performance [...] was about highlighting important things, in this case the fact that we are indeed looking at a masterpiece.” (János Malina, www.revizor.hu, 21 June 2010). In recent years they have staged Strauss’ four operas and a ballet, namely:  Capriccio, The Schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman), Daphne, Friedenstag (The Piece day) and the Joseph’s Legend.

Zoltán Kocsis’s oeuvre increasingly includes – alongside conducting and playing the piano – composition and orchestration, for which he draws much inspiration from his Orchestra consisting of brilliant musicians. His name is linked with some 140 orchestrations and piano transcriptions of works by  Bach, Haydn, Johann Strauss, Dvořák, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Enescu and naturally Bartók and Kodály.

A resounding example of Zoltán Kocsis’s ambitions as a composer is the performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses and Aron in 2010, which was an important event in music history. Kocsis wrote an entire third act for the unfinished opera, on the basis of the text left to us by the great Austrian composer. The music faithfully follows Schoenberg’s instructions about the unfinished parts as well as the dramaturgy of the text.

Another spectacular example of Kocsis’s familiarity with musical styles is the compositional exercise of style, his variations on the Hungarian Christmas song Kiskarácsony, nagykarácsony (Little Christmas). This work practically encompasses all the different periods of style of entire music history in the form of 47 variations. The work and the children’s film it inspired came out on DVD at Christmas 2011.

Zoltán Kocsis has been artistic director of the Bartók New Series project launched in December 2006, published by the Hungaroton Classic label. The series was out to present the entire oeuvre of the composer, serving as a kind of critical edition of his complete works. Both at home and abroad, the Bartók New Series has been warmly welcomed. It would be impossible to list here the many awards and prizes it has won. Reviews suggest that the intentions of editors and the contributors to the recordings were understood and appreciated by professionals and music-lovers alike.

“The approach of Zoltán Kocsis – an excellent pianist who also delivers a convincing performance as a conductor – to these 1930s works, the way in which, thanks to his unerring hearing, he renders their subtleties of tone and atmosphere, not only deserves attention, but is simply wonderful.  [...] he successfully inspires the orchestra, producing light and darkness, jubilation and weeping. [...] Only Hungarians will pay tribute to their most important composer with such large-scale artistic performance .” – GW, Pizzicato, 2010/9

The latest album which came out in December 2012, Bartók’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano, 1 & 2; Sonata for SoloViolin performed with violinist Barnabás Kelemen won the 2013 Gramophone classical music award in chamber music category. This reflects on the fact that he frequently appears as a chamber musician, too.

The proceeds of the charity concert held on his birthday every year goes to the International Children's Safety Service.

Zoltán Kocsis is an ordinary member of the Széchenyi Academy of Letters and Arts.  

In 2011  Zoltán Kocsis was appointed ambassador of the Liszt Year.

In 2012 he was appointed Artist of the Year in the Palace of Arts, Budapest.

On the 30th of May 2012, on his 60th birthday he was granted the Corvin chain expressing the respect of the Hungarian nation towards him.


Prizes and awards of Zoltán Kocsis

1973

Ferenc Liszt Award

1978

Kossuth Award

1981

Cecilia Award

1984

Merited Artist

1988

Bartók – Pásztory Award

Edison Award for his Bartók album Gramophone Award for his Debussy album Instrumental Recording of the Year Award

1989

Pro Hungarian Art Award

1990

Outstanding Artist

1991

Maecenas Award

1992

White Rose Award

2001

Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae

2002

Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his outstanding activities in promoting  French music and in recognition of his entire oeuvre.

MIDEM life achievement award

2004

Prima Primissima, Prima Award

2005

Kossuth Award

Award of the Artisjus Musical Foundation

2006

Bartók – Pásztory Award

Pro Hungarian Art Award

2007

Ambassador of Hungarian culture

Jubilee Prima Primissima Award

2012

Corvin chain Award


Performances at the Opera Festival:

» 19. 06. 2016. Closing concert

 

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