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Játékok (Hungarian: Games) is an ongoing collection of "pedagogical performance pieces" by György Kurtág. He has been writing them since 1973. Nine volumes had been published as of 2017 (by Editio Musica Budapest). Volumes I, II, III, V, VI, VII and IX are for piano solo. Volumes IV and VIII are for piano 4-hands or two pianos.

Volume I was essentially completed in 1973 but not published until 1979, by which time Volumes II, III and IV had also been composed. Volumes V and VI were published in 1997, Volume VII in 2003, Volume VIII in 2010, Volume IX in 2017.

Several pieces from the collection have started to be regularly performed, including a Prelude and Chorale, an Antiphon in F Sharp, and a piece called 3 in memoriam. Cataloging is not as transparent as it might be.


It was to try to recapture something of the spirit of a child's play that Kurtág began the composition of Játékok - "Games". He started with a few ideas - set out in the foreword to the first four volumes:


  • György Kurtág: Játékok Márta Kurtág and György Kurtág piano. With Bach Transcriptions by Kurtág himself and his wife Márta. Recorded July 1996. ECM New Series 1619 (CD)


Márta Kurtág and György Kurtág have performed an always-renewing selection of pieces for two and four hands, including transcriptions. The later volumes of Játékok bear the sub-title Diary Entries and Personal Messages. This, to some extent, reveals the lineage of the unique microcosms, which irresistibly involve the listener at their recitals.

Márta Kurtág and György Kurtág played a selection as part of the Composer's Portrait of the Rheingau Musik Festival, 8 August 2004, in the "Kulturforum Schillerplatz" (now "ESWE Atrium") Wiesbaden. The Bach transcriptions then interspersed with the miniature character pieces were Aus tiefer Not (BWV 687), Sonatina from Actus Tragicus, Trio sonata in E-flat major (BWV 525) and O Lamm Gottes (BWV 618).

The couple performed in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in February 2009.[1]


  1. ^ György Kurtág: Great Hungarian Jewish Composer, No Monk article by Benjamin Ivry in "The Forward", including a picture of Márta and György Kurtág at the piano, 6 February 2009

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