Jeney first studied piano and attended Pongrácz's composition classes at the Debrecen Secondary Music School, later continuing composition studies with Ferenc Farkas at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest (1961–66), and the pursuing postgraduate studies with Goffredo Petrassi at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (1967–68).
Jeney's earliest compositions show the influence of Béla Bartók, Luigi Dallapiccola, Anton Webern, Alban Berg, the new Polish school, György Kurtág, and Zsolt Durkó. In the late 1960s, he began to take an interest in Pierre Boulez's theories, Karlheinz Stockhausen's compositions, and oriental philosophy—a direction intensified as a result of his contact with Cage's thought. In the 1970s Jeney began composing music in the minimal style, and his works are often characterized by an extremely spare and static quality.
Since 1986 Jeney has been a professor at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary where, since 1995, he has served as Head of the Department of Composition. Several of his compositions have been released on the Hungaroton label.
- Discography at Classics Online.
- Kroó, György, and Rachel Beckles Willson. 2001. "Jeney, Zoltán". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Zoltán Jeney page at Budapest Music Center page
- Online biography of Jeney at website of the Bozzini Quartet.
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