Árpád Balázs at 85: Selected choral works published
“What distinguishes him from other popular composers is meticulousness, taste and the artistic aspiration that is always in evidence, in addition to popularity” – that’s how his master, Ferenc Farkas summarized his opinion on his former pupil, Árpád Balázs who is now celebrating his 85th birthday. After his studies in Budapest, Balázs received further training in Aram Khachaturian’s master classes, and in 1970 in Rome, in those given by Goffredo Petrassi. His rich oeuvre includes music for the theatre, oratorios, cantatas, pieces for string orchestra and for concert band, instrumental solo works and chamber music, choral works, film music, folk song arrangements and pedagogical works, and he has also written numerous pedagogical books on musical subjects. Besides more than 50 prizes won at Hungarian and international competitions, his work has been recognized by the Hungarian state with many awards, including the Erkel Prize (1970), the title of Artist of Merit (1981) and the Gold Medal of the President of the Republic (2000).
To commemorate his birthday, a two-volume selection of Balázs’s choral works has been published, comprising his rich output of this genre from the last six decades. Even as a young composer, Árpád Balázs was active in the choral scene both in Hungary and internationally. He sensed the basic principles of singability and applied them consciously, and he spoke in a musical language comprehensible to singing communities. Important poets inspired him to compose works of varying degrees of difficulty, from canons to large-scale choral frescoes. His compositional technique is unmistakably individual, characterized by a festoon of easily singable “outer-inner” voices that embrace one another, and a linear thinking deriving from Palestrina through Kodály. His choral works are known and sung not only in Hungary: his scores can be found in choirs’ music libraries in Europe, the USA, Japan, and China. And it was his now iconic Bodzavirág [Elderflower] that helped the Hungarian short film Sing on its way to the Academy Award in 2017.
Photo: UMP EMB