Peter Eötvös was born in 1944 in Székelyudvarhely (Transylvania). At the age of 14, Zoltán Kodály admitted him to his composition class at the Music Academy in Budapest. In 1966, a scholarship took him to Germany whe he sought contact with the musical avant-garde in Cologne. He performed in concerts with the Stockhausen Ensemble (1968-1976) and was employed as sound engineer in the West German Radio electronic studio in Cologne. Pierre Boulez invited him to conduct the opening concert of IRCAM in Paris in 1978 and he was appointed music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He made his debut at the BBC Proms in 1980 and conducted the first performance of Stockhausen's opera »Donnerstag aus Licht« the following year at the Scala in Milan. Eötvös was appointed principal guest conductor of a number of international orchestras: the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Vienna. With the foundation of the International Peter Eötvös Institute for Young Conductors and Composers, he created a platform for the transfer of acquired knowledge and experience to the next generation. He taught at the Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe from 1992, took up an appointment as professor at the Musikhochschule in Cologne and then returned to Karlsruhe in 2002 for a further five years. Eötvös lives at Budapest.
He views music as an intensive form of communication between composer, performer and audience. His ability of creating unusual tonal worlds is particularly displayed in his orchestral works, for example in zeroPoints, composed in 1999 in homage to Pierre Boulez. The piece consists of a series of small preludes characterized with the ciphers 0.1 - 0.2 - 0.3 etc. The works ends with 0.9 just before cipher 1 would be reached. The title is connected to the year of the World Première, 2000 (as a starting point), and with the countdown blip in film music recordings: 3-2-1-0. The sounds refer to the beginning, like the rasping sound that can be heard on old fashioned gramophone discs just before the music starts. The works Jet Stream for trumpet and orchestra (2002) and Seven for solo violin and orchestra (2006/2007) both feature a solo instrument as the focus of action. The composition CAP-KO (2005) which is dedicated to Béla Bartók develops a totally new form of piano concerto. The work exists in three different versions: a concerto with orchestra for one solo pianist who alternates between an acoustic grand piano and electronic keyboard, as a double concerto for two acoustic solo pianos with orchestral accompaniment and as an ensemble work for two pianos, sampler and percussion (Sonata per sei).
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