Zsolt Durkó

From Unearthing The Music

Zsolt Durkó (1934–1997) was a Hungarian composer and professor of music. He was born in Szeged, where he started to learn music from Géza Szatmári. He continued his studies at the Bartók Béla Conservatory in Budapest as a student of Rezső Sugár. Between 1955 and 1960 he learned composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in the class of Ferenc Farkas. In 1960–1963 he studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome under Goffredo Petrassi. Then he was a freelance composer, between 1972 and 1977 he taught 20th century composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music. In 1978 he received the Kossuth Prize. Since 1982 he was the leading lector of the Hungarian Radio. In 1987 he was one of the founders of the Society of Hungarian Music Art, and as a president of the Society, he started the ’Mini Festival,’ an important event of contemporary music.

Since the end of the 1960s, Durkó was the most known and played contemporary Hungarian musician. The BBC, the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, the Musica Viva Pragnesis and the Hungarian Opera were also ordered compositions from him. Zsolt Durkó’s music is European and consciously Hungarian at once, it represents the new pursuits of the age, but it draws from music traditions too. He created his musical language at the beginning of his carrier. His works from the 1960s simultaneously connoted to the avant-garde ambitions and the old Gregorian and the lament melodies of Hungarian folk music (’Episodi sul tema’ – 1963; ’Una rapsodia ungherese’ – 1965; ’Dartmouth Concerto’ – 1966, 1String Quarter No. I.’ – 1966; ’String Quartet No. II.’ – 1969 etc. Among others, he wrote film scores for the short film ’Elegy’ (1966) by Zoltán Huszárik, oratorios (’Funeral Sermon’ – 1972; ’Széchenyi Oratorio’ – 1982; ’On the Margin of the Book of Revelations’ – 1996) and music for children (’Dwarfs and Giants’ – 1974 etc.).