Today, Hungarian composer György Kurtág is celebrating his 91st birthday, and also 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 in 2002 with his wife, Ilaria.
Ilaria Borletti Buitoni travelled to Budapest with BBT trustee Mitsuko Uchida to present the award. She 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.
In Italy, last year, his music was used – together with that of Debussy – for a new ballet work featuring the great Italian dancer Carla Fracci. The work was commissioned by Teatro San Carlo in Naples, from an idea by director Beppe Menegatti and with choreography by Giuseppe Picone, to celebrate the ballerina’s 80th birthday. Uchida continued,
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.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.