Zoltán Kocsis

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Zoltán Kocsis in 1972

Kocsis Zoltán autogram.jpg

Zoltán Kocsis (Hungarian: [ˈzoltaːn ˈkot͡ʃiʃ]; 30 May 1952 – 6 November 2016) was a Hungarian virtuoso pianist, conductor, and composer.[1]



Born in Budapest, he began his musical studies at the age of five and continued them at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in 1963, studying piano and composition.[2] In 1968 he was admitted to the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where he was a pupil of Pál Kadosa, Ferenc Rados and György Kurtág, graduating in 1973.


He won the Hungarian Radio Beethoven Competition in 1970, and made his first concert tour of the United States in the following year.[3] He received the Liszt Prize in 1973, and the Kossuth Prize in 1978.[3]

Considered a great pianist,[4] Kocsis performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Philharmonia of London, and the Vienna Philharmonic.[5] Kocsis recorded the complete solo piano works and works with piano and orchestra of Béla Bartók.[6] In 1990, his recording of Debussy's Images[7] won "The Gramophone" Instrumental Award for that year. He won another with the violinist Barnabás Kelemen in 2013 in the chamber category for the recording of Bartók's Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2.[8]

American critic Harold C. Schonberg praised Kocsis' extraordinary technique and fine piano tone.[9] According to Grove Music Online, he had "an impressive technique, and his forthright, strongly rhythmic playing is nevertheless deeply felt and never mechanical. Kocsis has a natural affinity for Bach, but is also a fine exponent of contemporary music and has given the first performances of works by Kurtág."[3]


Zoltán Kocsis

Kocsis co-founded with Iván Fischer the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 1983, thus opening a new epoch in the history of Hungarian orchestral playing.[3] Kocsis played a determining role in the direction and the development of the program policy of the orchestra from its founding, and from 1987 also appeared as a conductor at their concerts.

He became the musical director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic in 1997 and held the title until his death in 2016.


Kocsis died from cancer on 6 November 2016, aged 64, in his native Budapest.[10]

Selected works[edit]


  • Kopogtatások (1984-85)
  • A vacsora (1984-85)
  • Kiállítás (1984-85)

Orchestral and Chamber music[edit]

  • Premiere, for string orchestra (1976)
  • Fészek (1975-76)
  • The last but one encounter, for piano, harpsichord (1981)
  • 33. December, for chamber ensemble (1983)
  • Memento, for string orchestra (Csernobil) (1986)
  • Utolsó találkozás (1990)


  1. ^ Zoltán Kocsis - Noteble Alumni Liszt Academy
  2. ^ Hungaroton LP SLPX11711 Liner Notes.
  3. ^ a b c d Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help) (subscription required)
  4. ^ 88 notes pour piano solo, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Neva Ed., 2015, p. 52. ISBN 978 2 3505 5192 0
  5. ^ "Zoltán Kocsis, pianist and 'giant of music', dies aged 64", - 2016. november 7. The Guardian
  6. ^ Zoltán Kocsis plays Bartók, Philips 8 CD set 475 6720.
  7. ^ Now issued as Philips CD 475 210-2.
  8. ^ The gramophone, 2013.
  9. ^ Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Pianists from Mozart to the Present, Second Edition, Simon & Schuster, 1987
  10. ^ "Meghalt Kocsis Zoltán, a Nemzeti Filharmonikusok vezetője".

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi
Principal Conductors, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Zsolt Hamar