Felvégi Andrea fotója)
József Ujfalussy speaks always to the human through his lectures and writings leading us discretely to the real meaning of what the ancient Greek philosophers already emphasized, the privileged attributes of music: the role of human education, a moral and ethical content.
He received the basics of his literacy in the atmosphere of his family's home, at the Calvinist College of Debrecen and the music school of Debrecen; and then he earned his doctorate at the classic-philology division of the University of Debrecen by the structural analysis of the epics of Homer (1944). He studied composition with Sándor Veress and choral conducting with János Ferencsik at the Academy of Music between 1946 and 1949. He studied music history with Bence Szabolcsi and Dénes Bartha, folk music with Zoltán Kodály. He has been teaching music aesthetics and music history at the Academy of Music since 1955.
József Ujfalussy was the rector of the Academy of Music between 1980 and 1988. Due to the preparatory work of his predecessors, the repurchase of the building of the Old Academy of Music (1879-1907), located at the corner of the Andrássy and Vörösmarty streets was managed under his leadership, which resulted a quality change in the life of the whole institution. The opening ceremony was held on the 100th anniversary of Liszt's death, in 1986, and the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre were also established, which became a worthy memorial site of the former home of Liszt and the center of the Liszt-research in Hungary. The Music Historical Research Library and the Liszt Sound Collection operate also in the building since its opening. This occasion was also a beginning of the book series titled as Scientific Announcements of the Academy of Music dealing with the life achievements of great personalities related to the institution by the collaboration of eminent music historians.
József Ujfalussy had an outstanding role in the life of the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, as well, where he was a colleague at the Bartók Archives, and then became the director of the institution in 1973 following Bence Szabolcsi. The organizational construction of the research of Hungarian music history at the Institute of Musicology was achieved during his term. He was chosen a correspondent in 1973 and a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1985, and served as a vice-president of the Academy between 1985 and 1993. He was chosen member or president respectively by notable Hungarian and foreign societies such as the Hungarian Society of Aesthetics, Sándor Veress Society, Zsigmond Kemény Society at Marosvásárhely and the Académie Européenne des Sciences, des Arts et des Lettres (Paris). He received an honorary doctorate of the Academy of Calvinist Theology (1990) and the Lajos Kossuth University of Sciences (1993). His work was recognized by numerous domestic and international awards: (Erkel Prize: 1961, Kossuth Prize: 1966, Apáczai Csere János Prize: 1985, Herder Prize: 1987, Eötvös József Prize: 1999)
Besides his internationally outstanding scientific work József Ujfalussy is present at several forums of musical life, his thoughts and work are familiar to not only musicians but a wide range of music lovers through his books, writings, science organizing work and - last but not least – radio lectures.
The approach through semantics and genre focusing on the content of the meaning of music characterize his habit the most as a researcher. His works on Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy, Bartók and Kodály became exemplary standard works of research.
Tibor Tallián writes as: ‘In Ujfalussy's aesthetics – in the standard work, in the long and significant line of later analytical studies, as well as in the compendium of practical-analytical application of aesthetics, and in the large Bartók monography – the principles of the relation of form and function are examined by an impartial and fertile Aristotelian spirit, more and more definitely and higher in the spheres of clear theory'. He also articulated the most accurately the image of József Ujfalussy as a researcher personality: ‘He scrupulously preserves the logic, clarity, abstraction, refinement and delicacy of language and behavior. These attributes make the scientific work of József Ujfalussy the manifestation of nobility.'