Kurtag, 91, wins young artists’ award

Kurtag, 91, wins young artists’ award


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2017

The Borletti-Buitoni Award, usually reserved for young artists, will be presented tomorrow to György Kurtág and his wife Marta, on their 70th wedding anniversary.

Press release follows.

19 February 2017: Today, Hungarian composer György Kurtág is 91 years old and also celebrates his 70th wedding anniversary.  He and his pianist wife, Márta, have been presented with a Borletti-Buitoni Trust award (£30,000) in recognition of their distinguished contribution to the world of music, as well as their long and devoted musical partnership.  This special tribute is in memory of Franco Buitoni  (1934-2016) who co-founded the Borletti-Buitoni Trust (BBT) in 2002 with his wife, Ilaria.
Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, who travelled to Budapest with BBT trustee Mitsuko Uchida to present the award, said: “My husband, Franco, passed away last August.  He and I founded BBT in 2002 to help talented young musicians develop their careers. From the very beginning we were pleased to have the artistic guidance and ideas of our founding trustee, Mitsuko Uchida, who was also a dear friend to Franco.  I wanted to honour my husband’s own lifetime of loving and supporting music with this special award and there seemed no better person to nominate a worthy recipient than Mitsuko.”
Mitsuko Uchida commented:  “Intense, mysterious, dark, otherworldly and innig; these are the words that come to my mind when I think of György Kurtág’s music.  He is inspirational and fiercely honest but there is also a deep love that glows through his music. This may be an expression of his extraordinary relationship with his wife, Márta.  Anybody who has heard the Kurtágs play, four hands, would know what that means.  We know György Kurtág the great composer but with him always is Márta the wonderful pianist. They live music together.  Therefore, the special Franco Buitoni Award goes to György and Márta Kurtág.  We are honoured that they have accepted this award on his 91st birthday and their 70th wedding anniversary.  We have all been so lucky to have known them and their music, me especially.”

BBT presented its first awards in 2003 and, since then, has proudly supported more than 100 musicians and ensembles all over the world.



  • Alexander says:


  • John Borstlap says:

    The award is an encouragement of future developments, so the foundation has great confidence in K’s longevity.

  • MWnyc says:

    Awwwwwwwwww …

  • Corina Kolbe says:

    The award was already presented some weeks ago.


  • Timo Tuhkanen says:

    Kurtag got 150k from the Wihuri/ Sibelius foundation in 2012. Who exactly does it encourage when the few rewards young people can dream of getting is given as a gift to someone who might even need it, and that could anyways have been given through some other means without taking away the opportunity which can save a young person? I can see nothing good about this.

  • Dennis says:

    What is gained by giving an award that is supposed to help young artists to a 91 year-old man whom we have no reason to believe is in great financial distress? Would it not be better to give this to a young and promising artist for whom such an award may make the difference between being able to continue to pursue a career in music and having to give up one’s dreams?

    Why doesn’t the Trust just create some new “lifetime achievement” award for Kurtag and other older musicians and composers, instead of subverting the intention of the original award?

    • John Borstlap says:


      But maybe the foundation has a Darwinian mind set in the service of quality standards: the more young musicians suffer, the more chance this is weeding-out the people whose character does not have the stubborn stamina and patience to be able to conduct a career later in life. Kurtag is a survivor (and not a happy one, if you hear his music), so maybe the money is meant as a compensation for deprivation in his youth.

      The best music is not stimulated by suppression, discouragement and neglect though, but by encouragement. Life itself provides suffering of its own accord.