Artist database

This is the Artist Database of BMC, which includes information about composers, musicians, orchestras, choirs and groups that are either Hungarian or Hungarian by origin or live in Hungary, as well as information about releases recorded with them.

Kertész István


Place of Birth
Date of Birth

He began violin and piano lessons in childhood, later studying the violin and composition at the Budapest Liszt Ferenc Academy, where his teachers were Kodály and Weiner. He took further conducting instruction from László Somogyi, and absorbed the influence of Klemperer (then at the Hungarian State Opera) and Walter in particular. Kertész became resident conductor at Győr in 1953, and two years later moved to Budapest as conductor and répétiteur. He left Hungary with his family after the 1956 uprising and settled in Germany, later taking German nationality.

Kertész was general music director at Augsburg (1958–63), and at Cologne from 1964; his wide repertory there included Tristan und Isolde, Verdi’s Stiffelio (the German premičre) and La clemenza di Tito. He made his British début in 1960 with the Royal Liverpool PO (and in London the same year with the LSO); his American début was in 1961 on a tour with the NDR SO. In 1966 he first appeared at Covent Garden (conducting Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera) and, after a world tour with the LSO that year, succeeded Monteux as its principal conductor (1966–8); in addition, he was musical director of the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne from 1971 until his death (in a drowning accident) in 1973.

At the outset of his career, Kertész acquired an unusually large and varied repertory, and his performances were characterized by direct, vigorous, unexaggerated interpretations that may at times have lacked some extra quality of individuality to distinguish them. He showed a special concern for the music of Bartók, Henze, Stravinsky and Britten (introducing Britten’s War Requiem to Vienna and his Billy Budd to Germany). His many recordings include a memorable complete cycle of Dvorák’s symphonies, Bluebeard's Castle and the first western European recording of the full Háry János (all with the LSO), the Brahms and Schubert symphonies (with the Vienna PO) and the first complete recording of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito.
Year Title Publisher Code Remark
1994 Kodály Zoltán: Háry János; Variations on a Hungarian Folksong Decca 443 488-2 2 CDs