Requiescat in pace: Péter Eötvös (1944-2024)

Requiescat in pace: Péter Eötvös (1944-2024)

A few weeks after his 80th birthday on 24 March 2024, PÉTER EÖTVÖS, composer, conductor and teacher, an outstanding figure of Hungarian and international contemporary music, passed away. Many of us knew this was imminent because of the illness that plagued him for the past year—which he bore with steadfast optimism and patience—as it shows no mercy to anyone. His passing was unexpected, regardless, and his music remained a constant on the international and Hungarian concert scene throughout his illness, even when he himself as a conductor was no longer able to participate in performances. He worked until his last months. His last opera, Valuska, premiered in Budapest in December 2023 at the Hungarian State Opera. In 2023, he was still able to complete his Harp Concerto, which premiered in Paris in January this year. The Hungarian premiere of Focus (Saxophone Concerto) took place a few days ago in Budapest.

"I search, I experiment, I take risks," he said in an interview—and he did. His work was dedicated to seeking new paths, expanding further possibilities in classical and contemporary music genres and, even more importantly, exploring hidden dimensions of sound. He began composing at the age of fourteen, and his compositional oeuvre encompassed almost every genre. His music is influenced by his Hungarian roots (Liszt, Bartók, Kodály) and by the greatest innovators and discoverers of the post-WW2 era (Stockhausen and Boulez), but these influences were only the starting points for him to generate his own compositional world.

His life's work as a conductor is preserved on sixty-three albums. Like Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók and György Ligeti, he was both a Hungarian and a citizen of the world, conducting almost every major work of international contemporary music, and further, he was the most authentic performer of orchestral works by György Kurtág, recognized worldwide.

He imparted his knowledge of composition and conducting as a teacher. Since 1991, he has inspired generations of conductors and composers through his master classes at the International Eötvös Institute and since 2004 at the Péter Eötvös Foundation for Contemporary Music. He was not only a professor, but also a mentor. Through his international prestige, he was able to secure performance opportunities and commissions for his most talented students and continued to follow and support their careers.

We have lost a brilliant artist and a wonderful friend and a collaborator. As a member of the Universal Music Publishing Classics & Screen group, together with Ricordi Berlin and Durand Salabert Eschig, we are honoured to have been partners and to have served as publishers of some of his works. We will continue to steward  these works in our catalogue, preserving their well-deserved musical status and artistic merit.

Editio Musica Budapest
Universal Music Publishing Classics & Screen