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Péter Eötvös (Composer, Conductor)

Born: January 2, 1944 - Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely, Szeklerland, Transylvania (then part of Hungary, now in Romania)

The Hungarian compose, conductor and teacher, Péter [Peter] Eötvös, received diplomas from Budapest Academy of Music (composition) and Hochschule für Musik in Cologne (conducting).

As a composer, conductor and teacher, Péter Eötvös combines all three functions in one very high-profile career. His music features regularly in the programmes of orchestras, contemporary music ensembles and festivals worldwide; and as composer/conductor he has led projects focusing on his work in centres such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna. His most recent operas, Love and Other Demons and Angels in America, are following the lead of his Three Sisters by generating an ever-increasing number of new productions; and several major music theatre commissions are due in the next few years.

Since his Proms debut in 1980, Péter Eötvös has made regular appearances in London. From 1985 to 1988 he was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed First Guest Conductor at the Budapest Festival Orchestra from 1992 to 1995, First Guest Conductor at National Philharmonic Orchestra (Budapest) from 1998 to 2001. Chief Conductor of the Radio Chamber Orchestra of Hilversum from 1994 to 2005, First Guest conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2005, and Principal Guest Conductor, Modern and Contemporary Repertoire at Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2007. From 2009 to 2012 he was First Guest Conductor at Radio Symphony Orchestra in Vienna. In addition to his roles listed above, Peter Eötvös is regularly re-invited as guest conductor by the most important Radio Orchestras in Europe, including Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; and renowned orchestra, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Münchner Philharmoniker, Philharmonia Orchestra (London), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and NHK Orchestra Tokyo. He has also worked in opera houses including La Scala Milan, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and La Monnaie Brussels, Festival Opera Glyndebourne, Theatre du Chatelet Paris, with directors including Luca Ronconi, Robert Altman, Klaus-Michael Grüber, Robert Wilson, Nikolaus Lehnhof, Ushio Amagatsu.

Peter Eötvös is one of the best known interpreters of 20th century music. Between 1968 and 1976 he performed regularly with the Stockhausen Ensemble. From 1971 to 1979 he collaborated with the electronic music studio of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. In 1978, at the invitation of Pierre Boulez, he conducted the inaugural concert of IRCAM in Paris, and was subsequently named Musical Director of the Ensemble InterContemporain (EIC), a post he held from 1979 to 1991. He also conducted Ensemble Modern as a guest. His recording of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia with Peter Eötvös and London Voices (DGG) received the BBC Music Magazine’s Award for “Technical excellence in recording” in 2006.

Equally important to Péter Eötvös are his teaching activities. From 1992 to 1998 he was Professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe, and from 1998 to 2001 at Cologne's Hochschule für Musik. He returns to his post at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe between 2002 and 2007. In 1991 he founded the International Eötvös Institute and Foundation, in 2004 the Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation in Budapest for young conductors and composers. He regularly conducts master-courses and seminars all over the world, e.g. Paris, Luzern, Basel, Luxemburg, Szombathely, Madrid etc. He is member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Szechenyi Academy of Art in Budapest, Sächsische Akademie der Künste in Dresden, Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

From 1962, Péter Eötvös composed for film in Hungary. His many compositions (e.g. Atlantis, zeroPoints, Shadows, Levitation, CAP-KO, SEVEN, DoReMi) and operas (Three sisters, Le Balcon, Angels in America, Love and Other Demons) are regularly performed throughout the world. His works have been recorded by BIS AG, BMC, DGG, ECM, KAIROS, col legno, Naive and his music is published by Editio Musica (Budapest), Ricordi (Munich), Salabert (Paris), Schott Music (Mainz).

Péter Eötvös' music shows the influence of a variety of composers. As director of the Ensemble InterContemporain, he was exposed to many exotic and respected samples of concert music, as is evidenced in the variety of timbres and sound-worlds within his music. Extended techniques such as over-pressure bowings coexist with lyrical folk songs, and synthesized sounds. Eötvös also is technologically competent, and provides detailed instructions on how to mix instruments for electronic manipulation or amplification. His first large scale compositions were for film. This often reflects on his later pieces in moments of atmospheric airiness. Two of his compositions for orchestra and voice, Atlantis and Ima, were inspired by Sándor Weöres' poem Néma zene.

Amongst the many honours he has been awarded are the Kossuth Prize, by the President of the Hungarian Republic in 2002; and the ’Commandeur de l`Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ in 2003 by the French minister of education and cultural affairs.


Angels in America, opera (2002-2004)
As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, opera (1998-1999)
Atlantis, for Orchestra (1995)
Le Balcon, opera (2001-2002)
Der Blick, tape (1997)
DoReMi (Violin Concerto No. 2), violin and orchestra (2012)
Drei Madrigalkomödien, for 12 voices:
- "Insetti galanti" (1970-1990)
- "Hochzeitsmadrigal" (1963-1976)
- "Moro Lasso" (1963-1972)
CAP-KO, concerto for piano, keyboard and orchestra (2005)
Cello Concerto Grosso (2011)
Chinese Opera, for orchestra (1986)
Cricketmusic, tape (1970)
Elektrochronik, tape (1974)
Endless Eight I., for ensemble (1981)
Endless Eight II. - Apeiron musikon, for ensemble (1988-1989)
Erdenklavier-Himmelklavier, for solo piano (2003)
Harakiri, opera (1973)
IMA, for choir and orchestra (2002)
Intervalles-Interieurs, ensemble and electronics (1981)
Jet Stream, trumpet concerto (2002)
Korrespondenz, for string quartet (1992)
Lady Sarashina (opera), opera (4 March 2008, Opéra de Lyon)
Love and Other Demons, opera (10 August 2008, Glyndebourne Festival)
Mese (Märchen /Tale/Conte), tape (1968)
Paris–Dakar, for ensemble (2000)
Psalm 151, for percussion (1993)
Psy, for ensemble (1996)
Psychokosmos, zymbalon concerto (1993)
Radames, chamber opera (1975/1997)
Replica, viola concerto (1998) - recorded by Kim Kashkashian on ECM Records
Shadows (1996)
Snatches of a conversation, for ensemble (2001)
Steine, for ensemble (1985-1990)
Three sisters, opera (1996-1997)
Thunder, solo timpani (1993)
The Tragedy of the Devil (Die Tragödie des Teufels), opera (February 2010, Bavarian State Opera)
Triangel, percussionist and ensemble (1993)
Two monologues, for baritone and orchestra (1998)
Two poems to Polly, solo cello (1998)
Windsequenzen, for ensemble (1975/1987)
zeroPoints, for orchestra (1999)

Awards, Prizes

European prize: "Pro Europa" prize in 2004 (Europäischer Preis für Komposition)
In Hungary: "Bartók-Pásztory prize" in 1997, "Kossuth Prize" in 2002, "Gundel arts award" in 2001, "Freeman of Budapest" in 2003, "Im memoriam Béla Bartók" prize and "Hungarian Arts Prize" in 2006,
In France: "Officier de l'Ordre des l'Arts et des Lettres" in 1988, Prize SACD Palmarès in cathegory "Prix Musique" in 2002, "Commandeur l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" in 2003, Cannes Classical Award for "Living Composer" in 2004, Grand Prix de la PMI - Prix Antoine Livio 2006 (Association PMusicale Internationale)
In Germany: "Frankfurter Musikpreis" in 2007, "Christoph und Stephan Kaske Preis" in 2000
In UK: Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award in 2002
In Italy: Golden Lion Award for Lifetime achievement in 2011

Composition prizes

His opera Three sisters was awarded France's Prix Claude-Rostand, Grand Prix de la Critique (1998) and Victoires de la Musique Classique and du Jazz (1999) and its CD won Grand Prix of Academie Charles Cros (1999), Diapason d'or de l'année 2000, ECHO Preis 2000 in Germany and Prix Caecilia in Belgium (2000).
In 2003 the film of his opera Le Balcon won the Grand Prix Golden Prague. His CD Bartók Bluebeard´s Castle was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004.
His violin concerto SEVEN was awarded "Prix de Composition Musicale" at Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco in 2008.

More Photos

Source: Péter Eötvös Website (Photos 02-05: Kálmán Garas; Photos 06-07, 14-17: Jean-Francois Leclercq; Photos 08-10: Andrea Felvégi; Photos 11-13, 27-28: Priska Ketterer; Photos 18-21, 33-36: Klaus Rudolph; Photo 22: Jean Radel; Photo 23: Wilfried Hoesl; Photos 24-26: Sisi Burn; Photos 29-31: Peter Kollanyi; Photo 32: Meral Bachman Design Studio & Gábor Bachman Starchitect Studio; Photos 37-41: Marco Borggreve; Photo 42: Lorenzo De Nobili); Wikipedia Website (August 2013; Photo 01: Istvan Huzsti)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2013)

Péter Eötvös: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Peter Eötvös (Official Website)

Péter Eötvös (Wikipedia)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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