Peter Eötvös
(c) Szilvia Csib

Péter Eötvös, Hungarian composer, conductor and pedagogue, has died at the age of 80. According to the family, Péter Eötvös died after a long and illness.

Péter Eötvös was  admitted to the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest on the recommendation of Zoltán Kodály when he was only 14. He studied at the Cologne Conservatory of Music from 1966-68.

He began his musical career as musical director of Vígszínház. Between 1963 and 1971 he composed incidental music for film and theatre. In 1966, he moved to Cologne, where he studied conducting at the Musikhochschule, and from 1967 he was a chorus master at the Cologne Opera for a year. He gave numerous concerts as guest conductor.

In 1994, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2005, of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2007 and of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2009 to 2011.

Between 1992 and 1998, he taught at the Karlsruhe University of Music, which he resumed in 2002. From 1998 to 2001 he was a professor at the Cologne University of Music. He also regularly conducted master classes and seminars all over the world. In 2004 he moved back to Hungary.

His publishing house Schott says: « His ability of creating unusual tonal worlds is particularly displayed in his orchestral works, for example in zeroPoints, composed in 1999 in homage to Pierre Boulez. The works Jet Stream for trumpet and orchestra (2002) and Seven for solo violin and orchestra (2006/2007) both feature a solo instrument as the focus of action. The composition CAP-KO (2005) which is dedicated to Béla Bartók develops a totally new formtof piano concerto. In the percussion concerto Speaking Drums (2012/2013) Eötvös takes up the combination of speaking and drumming from Indian percussion music. In his second violin concerto DoReMi (2013) Eötvös reflects on how the complexity of the world stems from small simple components. The title refers both to the first three tones of our tonal system and to the performer of the world premiere, Midori. Alle vittime senza nome for orchestra (2016) is dedicated to the victims of the European refugee crises who drowned in the Mediterranian Sea. His third violin concerto Alhambra is manifoldy inspired by the fabulous Mooorish fortress in Andalusia, Spain.

Eötvös can be counted among the most successful operatic composers of our time. The libretto of the chamber opera Radames (1975/1997) originated from a textual concept by the composer, whereas later opera projects are based on master works of world literature. In 2002, Le Balcon, based on the play by Jean Genet was premiered at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence. Angels in America (2004) is based on the cult play by Tony Kushner which has been regarded as a key text in American literature since the 1990s. The opera Love and Other Demons, originating from a novel by the Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, transports us into the world of Columbia in the 18th century with its superstition, desire and religious obsession and was premiered to great acclaim at the 2008 Glyndebourne Festival. In 2010, Die Tragödie des Teufels was premiered at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Paradise reloaded (Lilith) (2013) continues the subject matter of the last opera in a new way: Lilith, a strong and self-determined woman, is juxtaposed to kindhearted and motherly Eva. The subject matter of Der Goldene Drache (2014), however, is decidedly political again: globalization and migration policy. The piece, which Eötvös sees as music theatre, not as an opera, is based on the play of the same name by Roland Schimmelpfennig and was commissioned for the Ensemble Modern and the Oper Frankfurt. Senza sangue (2015) was written by Eötvös for the concert premiere in May 2015 with the New York Philharmonic at the ACHT BRÜCKEN Festival in Cologne. A year later, the first scenic Performance was staged at the Festival d’Avignon. Based on Alessandro Bariccio’s novella of the same name, the work is about two people seeing each other again while being connected with each other as victim and offender for their whole lives. Sleepless, based on the award-winning novel « Trilogy » by Norwegian playwright and Nobel Prize winner Jon Fosse, premiered at the Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin in December 2021. His most recent opera, Valuska, based on the novel Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai, premiered in Budapest in 2023. »

In 1991 Eötvös established the International Eötvös Institute Foundation and in 2004 the Péter Eötvös Foundation for Contemporary Music. His foundations support young composers and conductors.

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