Hungarian Quartet Reborn, Reformed

Budapest, Hungary; January 7, 2019—The internationally acclaimed Hungarian violinist, András Keller, founder and leader of the world-famous Keller Quartet, music director of Concerto Budapest, holder of the Béla Bartók Chair at the Guildhall School of Music in London has recently announced the formation of a new musical ensemble called Hungarian Quartet

There is no music lover who would not know this name: the legendary Hungarian Quartet was originally brought together in 1935 with Sándor Végh as the first violin, but was set onto a balanced footing when the virtuoso violinist Zoltán Székely (who premiered Bartók’s Violin Concerto in March 1939) replaced Végh as leader in 1937. By 1938, the group had been heard in every major city of Western Europe.

The Quartet made its name with the Hungarian premiere of Bartók’s Fifth String Quartet, which it studied with the composer. During the war the four musicians were trapped in the Netherlands, and devoted the period to the intensive study of the Beethoven quartets, which were subsequently launched upon the world in the brilliant career that the group achieved after 1945. In 1950 they settled in the USA: playing in a more homogeneous, but also more relaxed style, the Hungarian Quartet was as successful in its adopted home as in Europe.

Considered one of the finest string quartets of all time, the Hungarian Quartet made a profound impression in the central repertoire, and its interpretations of 20th century music were excellent. They embodied the very best of the Central European tradition of string-playing. They played with brilliance and flair, their performances had miraculous polish, grace, and swiftness. The Quartet was disbanded in 1972.

It is this legendary ensemble whose brilliant traditions András Keller’s newly formed Hungarian Quartet wants to continue. “We would like to renew the tradition of very personal, natural music playing represented by our predecessors. Jenő Hubay, Ede Zathureczky, Sándor Végh, Zoltán Székely – masters of the craft of Hungarian violin playing – spoke Hungarian on their instruments yet the message of their art became universal. We would like to return to this form of music playing that is gradually dying out,” András Keller said at a recent press conference.

Other members of the Hungarian Quartet include János Pilz (violin), founding member of the Keller Quartet and  leader of Budapest Strings, László Fenyő (cello), winner of several international competitions and professor at the Music Academy of Karlsruhe, and Gábor Homoki (viola), member of the former Kelemen Quartet.

The first concert of the Hungarian Quartet, on January 4, 2019 in the packed Grand Hall of the Franz Liszt Music Academy, proved to be a tremendous success: critics speak about a “new super-quartet“, a “worthy successor to the best predecessor“.

—Tamás Körner, Classical Concert Agency, Budapest, Hungary