Adrienne Csengery

Amberg, 3 January 1946
The soprano, Adrienne Csengery, was born in Amberg in Bavaria in 1946. By the age of five she lived in Szeged ( town in southern Hungary), where her musical talent was discovered. Thus, even before she began primary school, she had received instruction in the local specialist secondary music school. At the age of seven she began to learn the violin as well and soon continued her schooling and musical studies in Budapest. The Hannig music school (directed by Pál Hannig and Alice Takáts) was an important experience for her, as was the Lórántffy street general school, which, together with the famous music school, provided Adrienne Csengery with regular choir work and, from the age of ten, with the chance to appear in solo roles.
 
She continued singing in the choir in the Erzsébet Szilágyi Secondary School in Budapest, where the choir master was Mária Katanics. Parallel with this, she also attended the oboe classes at the Béla Bartók Specialist Music School, as Tibor Szeszler's pupil. In 1963 the "Szilágyi Trio" formed in the school, comprising Adrienne Csengery, Judit Várbíró and Andrea Zsadon, won a Hungarian Television talent competition. From her childhood onwards, Adrienne Csengery prepared for a career as a solo singer; therefore she began to train her voice gradually, at the age of sixteen, as Miklós Kerényi's pupil. Thanks to her broadly based musical education, at eighteen she was immediately admitted to the Music Academy, where Éva Kutrucz taught her. Her work at the Academy with the couch József Bakki was of great importance to her: with his help she learned the most important roles in the opera repertoire and also got close to the world of contemporary music. At that time Miklós Lukács taught role practice and András Mikó theatrical performance in the Opera Department. It was thanks to the latter that she received her first invitation to sing in the Opera House, which was also her opera debut, in the role of Fanchette in The Marriage of Figaro. In 1970 she became solo singer of the Opera House. At the end of the sixties began her cooperation with József Réti and Lovro von Matacic, who invited her on numerous occasions to sing the solo roles in, among other things, Monteverdi's Vespro, Gluck's Orfeo, and Mozart's Requiem. At the beginning of the seventies she became a member of the Budapest Chamber Ensemble, led by András Mihály, which was the basis for performing the contemporary repertoire at that time. At the start of her career she won two important international competitions (S'Hertogenbosch – 1973, and Paris – 1974, Fauré singing competition), which launched her European career. Between 1974 and 1977 she was a member of the Munich Opera House, but appeared in other important venues as well, such as Glyndebourne, London, Milan, Bayreuth, Berlin, Hamburg, Palermo, Amsterdam, etc.
 
Adrienne Csengery's performing art became the muse for very important works from the point of view of Hungarian and universal music history. As Péter Halász wrote in his short monograph on György Kurtág: "…Kurtág did not want to break away from the rediscovered singing voice, nor from the ideal performer, Adrienne Csengery. In the first half of the eighties the new vocal cycles regularly followed each other". It was Csengery who carried to world success Kurtág's Eszká-emlékzaj (Seven songs on poems by Dezső Tandori), Scenes from a novel, József Attial töredékek (Attila József fragments), Requiem der Versöhnung, and Kafka-Fragmente.
 
J.M.

 

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