One of the most distinctive personalities of the generation of Hungarian composers whose careers began in the early 1960s. In the works written in his youth his attention turned towards dodecaphony and later the possibilities of improvisatory and experimental music; from the 1980s, however, he developed a musical style of his own, with a synthesis of neoclassicism and Hungarian national musical traditions.
He was born at Balatonfűzfő on 11August, 1939. He studied composition with Ferenc Farkas at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, graduating in 1962. In 1962-63 he taught music theory at the Conservatory in Szeged; between 1963 and 1966 he was a music producer with Hungarian Radio. In 1967 he studied in Paris on a UNESCO scholarship, then worked as a free-lance composer. From 1979 until his death he taught composition at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. Between 1990 and 1993 he was also the managing director of the Hungarian National Philharmonia. Besides his two operas his oeuvre consisted mainly of choral music, symphonic works and solo instrumental and chamber music. In his opera Csongor and Tünde (1979-84), based on a play by Mihály Vörösmarty, he worked out the ten-tone system that he was to use consistently for the rest of his life. His works were performed at numerous international festivals (ISCM festivals in Prague and London, the Holland Festival, the Warsaw Autumn, the Contemporary Music Festival in Witten, the Zagreb Biennale and the Musikprotokoll, Graz). He frequently took part as a zither or recorder player in performances of his own compositions. He died on 14 September 1999, in Gönc (north-east Hungary).
His prizes and awards
Erkel Prize (1968, 1979); Artist of Merit of the Hungarian People’s Republic (1984); Bartók-Pásztory Award (1988); Kossuth Prize (1990); Hungarian Arts Award (1992)