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Zoltán Rácz

From Unearthing The Music

Zoltán Rácz. Photo by Ottó Kaiser

Zoltán Rácz is a Hungarian percussionist, conductor and pedagogue, founding member and creative director of the Amadinda Percussion Group.

Biography

Born in Budapest (1960) he began his musical studies in 1967, first on the piano and some years later on percussion instruments. Having finished his studies at the Béla Bartók Conservatory, he graduated from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in 1983. As a student he became more and more interested in solo percussion and chamber music repertoires. He regularly participated in programmes by the New Music Studio in Budapest and presented several new pieces in concerts and recordings. During the Bartók Centenary Year 1981, he performed and recorded "Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion" with Zoltán Kocsis and Dezsı Ránki. In 1984 he founded the Amadinda Percussion Group remaining its artistic director to this day.

In 1985 the group won the first prize at Gaudeamus Contemporary Music Competition in Rotterdam. Gradually, Amadinda became one of the most renowned percussion groups all over the world - performing at prestigious music festivals in Europe and the rest of the world. Amadinda have recorded more than ten CDs for Hungaroton, including the complete percussion works of John Cage. John Cage dedicated his 72 minutes long composition Four4 to Amadinda. The piece was premiered in Tokyo during the group's first tour of Japan in 1992.

Zoltán Rácz

In 2000, they performed the world premiere of György Ligeti's new piece "Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedővel", for mezzosoprano and percussion. In 2009, Steve Reich, one of the greatest living composers composed and dedicated a new piece to the group - Mallet Quartet – on the occasion of Amadinda’s 25th anniversary. In 1988 the Amadinda Percussion Group was awarded the Franz Liszt Prize by the Hungarian government as well as the Order of the Merit of the Hungarian Republic by the President of Hungary in 1997. In 2004, they received the Kossuth Prize, the highest artistic prize in Hungary.

Over time, Zoltán Rácz emerged as a soloist and conductor as well. He played and also recorded Peter Eötvös' percussion concerto Triangel, with performances in Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, among others. He has been the lead timpanist of the Budapest Festival Orchestra between 1992 and 1996, as well as editor of a contemporary music program for the Hungarian Television. From 1997 to 2005 he was a member of the artistic advisory board of the Budapest Spring Festival. Since 2006, he served as music director for Hungary’s leading contemporary music group, the UMZEChamber Ensemble. His appearances as conductor of this ensemble include the Espinho Music Festival (Portugal), Zagreb Biennale (Croatia) Bernaola Festival (Spain) and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (Germany) as well as most of the major Hungarian music festivals. He is the artistic director of the annual Hommage à Ligeti concert series of the Palace of Arts – Budapest.

He has been a professor at Franz Liszt Academy of Music since 1990. In 2002, Zoltán Rácz received the award of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres given by Catherine Tasca, Minister of Culture and Communication of the French Republic.

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