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.

Fábián Márta


Place of Birth
Date of Birth

Liszt Prize laureatee cimbalom-player, was born in Budapest. She is the most outstanding representative of the great Hungarian cimbalom-playing tradition. Her artistry was summerized by Dominic Gill in ’The Financial Times’ as follows: ’Not to have heard Miss Fábián play the cimbalom is surely not to have heard the cimbalom played at all.’
Márta Fábián had taken up the mantle of Aladár Rácz, the giant of a musician who captivated even Stravinsky. The line of succession is a direct one, since her teacher, Ferenc Gerencsér, had been a pupil of Rácz’s. She was aware that the instrument deserved a repertoire of its own, having earlier been confined mainly to transcriptions. So she became a mentor to contemporary Hungarian composers, providing them with an incentive, and receiving in return not only works written specially for her but guidance in both the idiom of modern music and discerning interpretation of the classics. Péter Eötvös, Miklós Kocsár, György Kurtág, István Láng and András Mihály were those who helped her most, but she incorporated lessons learnt from many other composers into her playing as well. Works, even concertos, have been written for her by numerous Hungarian and foreign composers.
There are many calls on a cimbalom player. Apart from solo playing and solo performance in concertos, the cimbalom often features in chamber music and there again attention tends to centre on it. The sound of the instrument is remotely reminiscent of the stringed keyboard instruments, yet it is uniquely its own and offers boundless scope for a 20th century sensitivity to tone. Márta Fábián also plays pieces of chamber music for various combinations of instruments, and listeners can experience how the cimbalom blends with stringed, woodwing and plucked instruments.
There is a duet in which her playing mingles with that of Ágnes Szakály’s with whom she has been performing both baroque and classical gems and relevant contemporary works since 1979. She has also formed trios with a flute and guitar: she has regulalry appeared with the Budapest Chamber Ensemble and with Die Reihe, and she continues to work with the Ensemble InterContemporain and the Ensemble Modern, the Piccola Accademia, the Chamber Orhestra of Europe, and the Ensemble 20. Jahrhundert. Even in symphonic, orchestral works, the cimbalom does not play a supporting role. Márta Fábián has worked with Felsenstein in Kodály’s Háry János at the Berlin Komische Oper and in America under the baton of Antal Doráti, who specially invited her.
Márta Fábián has eight records released by Hungaroton. The first won her a Grand Prix du Disque in 1977, and the Kurtág record on which she also features was selected ’Record of the Year’ in 1987. (This also includes the recording of the Messages of the late R. V. Trusova that Erato released with Boulez and which won the Gramophone prize in 1986.) Recently she played a work of Haydn’s with Harmonia Mundi. Apart from the records which she makes an appearance. As a soloist she has been touring Europe, the United States, Mexico, Latin America and Egypt. In 1979 and in 1988 she received Hungary’s top musical honours (Liszt Prize, Merited Artist). She has been awarded the Artisjus Prize in several occasions, awarded by they feel have done most to make contemporary Hungarian music popular in Hungary and abroad.
From her rRepertory: Kurtág, Láng, Kocsár, Sáry, Szokolay, Székely, Soproni, Hollós, Rózsa, Vántus, Hidas, Ránki, Vajda, Király, Balassa, Orbán, Kodály, Stravinsky, André Bon, Boulez, Hubert, Stäbler. Her repertory from chamber music with duo and trio formation includes classical works from Bach (Bach-Goldberg Variations), Händel, Scarlatti, Lully, Rameau, Couperin, Daquin, Haydn, Mozart, Debussy, Liszt, Weiner and Bartók to centemporary music.