Liszt is to piano playing what Euclid is to geometry.

Alan Walker

“Performing arts and teaching are organically interlinked missions”

6 June 2019

Kossuth Prize laureate cellist Csaba Onczay has been giving master classes for 25 years in Japan, while he is also teaching students arriving from there: as a recognition of these efforts, he recently received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon Award.

“This is a continuously evolving musical relationship between Japan and Hungary lasting since a quarter century by now” – claims the Liszt Academy's professor emeritus of the Strings Department. According to Csaba Onczay: these joint 25 years reflect well the Japanese organisation, intention and commitment towards Hungarian musical life, the gem of which is the education and the performing experience you can gain here, at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music.

He received the Far Easter country's Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon Award precisely because of his significant role in recognising and nurturing Japanese talents, his contribution to the training and professional development of the Japanese musicians and for promoting the musical relationship between Japan and Hungary.

“My relationship with Japan is not recent, as I had my first album published in 1991 at Naxos, then another seven followed. We recorded the Beethoven album Piano Trios ʻGhostʼ And ʻArchdukeʼ with piano artist Jenő Jandó and Nishizaki Takako violin artist thanks to which I had my first concert tour in the island country in 1993” – remembers the beginning of his relationship with the Far Eastern country, who was asked to hold his first cello course in Japan by the Gifu–Hungary Friendship Association in 1995. “Violin artist András Kiss and piano artist Sándor Falvai joined me in 1998. Ever since then we are teaching cello, violin and piano. After some time, violin artist Vilmos Szabadi took over the violin training. We have given at least thirty-five joint trio concert in the beautiful hall of Gifu city in the Salamanca Hall, and in other cities too and myself, I have given over eighty concerts in Japan over the twenty-five years and have taught approximately three hundred Japanese cellists during my master classes. About thirty of them studied in my Liszt Academy courses – some of them for several years.” – the cellist lists his milestones. Csaba Onczay has other points of contact with Japanese music: he performed twelve recitals with Kenichiro Kobayashi (Brahms double- and Beethoven triple concerto, Lendvay, Saint-Saëns, Haydn, Shostakovich, Lalo, Schumann and Boccherini cello concertos), performed at more than a dozen concerts with various orchestras both home and abroad. “The Hungarian premiere of Japanese composer Akutagawa Yasushi's cello concerto is also related to us, and I am very proud of it” – emphasises.

“Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music is respected overall in Japan. As a teacher, I assisted with the selection and guiding of the trainings” – indicates the cellist, who believes that performing arts and teaching are interlinked organically and are compelling elements of talent nurturing. It is luck and gift he could engage in such diverse activity. He adds that the Japanese cellist taught by them are now cellists of big Japanese orchestras and famous professors.

Csaba Onczay has been teaching at the Liszt Academy over fourty years and holding master classes worldwide for decades. He was artistic director of the German Niederstotzingen Musiktage between 1981 and 2001; of the summer academy of Festetics Castle in Keszthely between 1987 and 2000; he was regular guest of the Boston, USA Kodály Center of America where he held master classes and performed works of Kodály, and he played and held master classes between 1983 and 1994 in Bergamo, Italy. He was a guest professor in Freiburg, Oberlin, at the Indiana University in the USA. He is a visiting professor of the institute's Summer String Academy since 2004.