Dénes Kovács

Vác, 18 April 1930 – Budapest,14 February 2005
Kovács Dénes hegedül (Fotó: Zeneakadémia képgyűjteménye, Fábián János felvétele)
Kovács Dénes hegedül
(Fotó: Zeneakadémia
képgyűjteménye, Fábián János
Dénes Kovács carried on the traditions of the Hubay school, doing as great deal both through his art and his teaching for the preservation of the international prestige of Hungarian violin playing. He began his musical studies at the age of six and became Dezső Rados's pupil at the Fodor Music School at the age of eight. In 1944 he entered Ede Zathureczky's class at the Music Academy. After a break in his studies due to pressing financial problems, he continued them from 1947 and gained his diploma in 1951. Even while a student at the Academy, he had some remarkable successes: in 1948 as an artist in training he won the Reményi Prize (a master violin made by the instrument maker László Reményi), in the next year got as far as the finals in the Jan Kubelik competition in Prague, and in 1951 came third in World Youth Festival's violin competition held the Berlin.
After a year spent in the orchestra of the Army's Central Arts Ensemble, from 1951 for a decade he was the leader of the Opera House orchestra. In the meantime he had another international success, winning the Flesch competition in London in 1955.From 1957 he taught at the Music Academy, becoming head of department in 1959, and university professor in 1964. From 1967 till 30 June 1980 he led the Academy, first as Director in Charge, and from 1971, when the Academy gained university status, as Rector. He continued to teach after 1980, directing the master training programme.
Dénes Kovács began his work as director as both a practising musician and a pedagogue. In his first speech at the start of the new academic year, he announced the founding of the college's Grand Prize, whose purpose was to ease the path of young musicians ready to start a professional career. He reconstituted the special Preparatory Department for exceptionally talented young people (from the age of eight). He consciously endeavoured to ensure that those joining the orchestras were not would-be soloists who didn't make it, but musicians with an academy qualification, who had received a high level of instrumental training. That was the purpose of the training of future orchestral artists. Following an earlier model, he introduced once again artist training, made the chamber music department independent, and reconstituted the independent percussion department. It was during his time as rector that the Academy's stock of instruments was enriched by the acquisition of a cembalo. By instituting a competition in the 1974/75 jubilee academic year, as well as other memorial competitions, he aimed at helping the paths of talented people. His sense of responsibility for the training of violinists is demonstrated by the fact that he held regular master classes in the Saint Stephen Specialist Music School from 1990 onwards.
Besides his pedagogical activities, Dénes Kovács regularly appeared on the concert podium as well. In 1963 the National Philharmonic engaged him as a soloist, which arrangement came to an end only when this type of contract ceased to exist. During these thirty years to took the greatest works of universal music history to almost all parts of the country. His recordings of the masterpieces of the violin repertoire, made over four decades, gained many new adherents to classical music. He had a wide repertoire: his recordings on disc and radio cover concertos, chamber and solo pieces from the baroque to the mid-20th century. He recorded all the Beethoven violin-piano sonatas and string trios. His recordings made for the complete Bartók edition are worthy of special attention. Of the works by composers of his own generation, he played the solo in recordings of the concertos of Gyula Dávid, Frigyes Hidas, Pál Kadosa, András Mihály, and István Sárközy.
His career, spent in the limelight of interest, was justly recognised by awards: the Liszt Prize (1955,1958), Kossuth Prize (1963), the title, Outstanding Artist (1970), the Order of Labour (gold) (1974), and the highest recognition by the profession, the Béla Bartók-Ditta Pásztory Prize (1989, 2000).
K. F.


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