‘Alio modo’: sulle trascrizioni bachiane di György Kurtág

‘Alio modo’: sulle trascrizioni bachiane di György Kurtág, «Nuove Musiche» 2, 2017, pp. 135-155.


The use of pre-existing music in new works is a widespread practice in György Kurtág’s output, considering the number of ‘recompositions’ that he has been writing since the Seventies. Among these, works such as the Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánszky op. 28 and the Hommage à R.Sch. op. 15d have repeatedly been a subject of interest for musicologists, due to their complex construction and to the richness of their implications, whereas Kurtág’s more traditional piano transcriptions from Machaut to Bach have been neglected so far. Nonetheless, these transcriptions deserve our attention not only for their relatively large extent, but also for their intentional seeming naivety in a late postmodernist climate; moreover, György and Márta Kurtág never miss the chance to play a selection of them in their concerts. This article, therefore, examines Kurtág’s transcriptions focusing particularly on the Bachian corpus mainly composed in the winter of 1985 after some choral preludes. Thanks to a close investigation of the rewriting techniques employed, Kurtág’s transcribing process proves to be constantly driven by an analytical insight, and thus aimed to an enhancement of the Bach’s fabric. Furthermore, these transcriptions show a subtle closeness between Kurtág’s and Bach’s approaches to the creative practice, which both of them conceive as a creatio alio modo, rather than ex nihilo.