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OCTET for Chamber Winds PETER ÖETVÖS (Hungary, 1944)

[#241] March 4, 2024

2008 | Chamber winds | Grade 6 | 10’ – 15’ | Octet

Hungarian composer, conductor, and educator Peter Eötvös

In celebration of his 80th anniversary, Octet, by Hungarian composer, conductor, and educator Peter Eötvös is our Composition of the Week.

Octet was written in 2008 after a commission of the Reina Sofia School of Music from Madrid, Spain. The work was premiered on April 2, 2008, in Frankfurt, Germany, by the Ensemble Modern.

Octet follows the famous Stravinsky’s octet instrumentation, flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets and 2 trombones. It has a duration of 13 minutes, and it is available at Ricordi Munich.


Peter Eötvös, is one of the leading exponents of the contemporary repertoire was born in Transylvania and claims to belong to Hungarian musical culture, remaining particularly attached to the art of Bartók, Kodaly, Kurtág and Ligeti. Some of his pieces are dedicated to Hungarian instruments, such as Psychokosmos, for solo Cymbalum and traditional orchestra (1993).

A graduate of the Budapest Academy of Music, he continued his musical studies in Germany, at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. He met Karlheinz Stockhausen and, between 1968 and 1976, performed with his ensemble and took part in the electronic music studio of Cologne's Westdeutscher Rundfunk.


In 1978, at Pierre Boulez's invitation, he conducted at IRCAM's inaugural concert. Following this experience, he was appointed musical director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He remained at the head of the ensemble until 1991.

Since his conducting debut at the London Proms, he has been a frequent visitor to London: he was Principal Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 1988. He was then appointed conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra from 1992 to 1995, then of the Budapest National Philharmonic Orchestra from 1998 to 2001, of the Hilversum Radio Chamber Orchestra (Netherlands) from 1994 to 2005, of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2005, and of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra since 2003.


He is often invited to conduct prestigious ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Radio France Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been invited to La Scala, the Royal Opera House Covent Garde, La Monnaie, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival and the Théâtre du Châtelet.


In 1991, he founded the International Eötvös Institute and Foundation for young conductors and composers. From 1992 to 1998, he taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe. He left this institution to teach at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne from 1992 to 1998, before returning in 2002.

Alongside his extensive conducting and teaching career, Péter Eötvös has composed numerous pieces, influenced by his experience in Stockhausen's studio - Cricketmusic (1970), Elektrochronik, (1974), as well as his work with Boulez - and by other influences such as jazz: Music for New York: improvisation for soprano saxophone and percussion with tape (1971), by Frank Zappa - Psalm 151, In memoriam Frank Zappa (1993).


Right from the start of his career, his work was marked by the cinema and theatre, for which he intended his first compositions. His experience in this field is reflected in the structure of his major orchestral pieces such as ZeroPoints (1999), as well as in his operas Three sisters (1997-1998), Le Balcon (2001-2002), Angels in America (2002-2004), Lady Sarashina (2007), Die Tragödie des Teufels (2009).


Peter Eötvös has received on February 25, 2024, a Lifetime Achievement Award of the György Cziffra Festival for his several decades long outstanding work in national and international classical and contemporary music as composer and conductor.



Other works for winds include:


·      Brass – The Metal Space (7 brass and 2 percussions) 1990, 22’

·      Lectures différentes – for Saxophone Quartet, 2014, 9’



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