György Kurtág was born on February 19, 1926, in Lugos (Lugoj) in the Banat, Ro-mania. Beginning in 1940 Kurtág studied piano with Magda Kardos and composition with Max Eisikovits in Temesvár (Timisoara), beginning in 1946 with Pál Kadosa (piano), with Sándor Veress and Ferenc Farkas (composition), and chamber music with Leó Weiner. In 1948 he became a Hungarian citizen; in 1951 he received his diploma in piano and chamber music; four years later he completed his studies in composition.
The period 1957/58 was a turning point: Kurtág’s musical thinking changed profoundly during a stay in Paris, when he was working with the Hungarian psychologist Marianne Stein and attending courses with Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud. In 1967 Kurtág was appointed professor of piano, later of chamber music as well, at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest – an activity he continued until 1986. In 1971 Kurtág was in Berlin with a stipend from the German Academic Exchange Service; since 1987 he has been a member of the Bavarian Art Academy in Munich and the Art Academy in Berlin.
The "Messages of the Late Miss R.V. Troussova", op. 17 (premiered in Paris on January 14, 1981) for soprano and chamber ensemble finally made his name known internationally. In 1994 Kurtág received the Österreichischer Staatspreis für europäische Komponisten, in 1998 the renowned prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, in 2001 the Friedrich-Hölderlin-Preis of the Universitätsstadt Tübingen, and in 2006 the Grawemeyer Award for Music. György Kurtág and György Ligeti are considered the most important Hungarian composers after 1945.