When God loves one of his creations, Thornton Wilder wrote in his novel The Eighth Day, He shows him both the greatest happiness and the greatest misery. The world-famous Hungarian piano virtuoso György Cziffra (1921-1994) experienced deprivation and abundance alike in his life, as well as both persecution and celebration. The Müpa Cziffra100 tableau exhibition being assembled for the centenary of the artist's birth reveals a career that is worthy of a novel.
With the assistance of Ernst von Dohnányi, the young man from a family of Roma musicians was admitted - at the age of eight! - to the Liszt Academy, where he would study under Leó Weiner, György Ferenczy and Imre Keéri-Szántó. After being drafted to fight in World War II, he was taken prisoner by the Soviets. He then escaped and returned home to Budapest, where from 1945 he made a living playing piano in the city's nightclubs. In 1950, he attempted to flee the country, but was caught and j...ailed along with his wife. It was only in 1956 that he emigrated to the West, so that he could start a new life in France and earn the worldwide renown he so richly deserved. Misfortune, however, would interrupt the life of the celebrated international star again when his conductor son György Cziffra Jr. died in an apartment fire in 1981 at the age of 39.
Müpa Budapest's tableau exhibition presents the artist's path in life, attaching newspaper articles and reviews to the chapters of his career - subjective commentary on the assessments of the objective facts. Visitors will get to read anecdotes about Cziffra's fan Ferenc Puskás, who followed the artist from place to place in the Budapest night in order to hear his playing, and from the poet Győző Határ, who witnessed Cziffra's famous prison concert. There will also be an overview of the afterlife of the artist's work, with a look at the history of the Cziffra Foundation, the work of János Balázs, numerous documents from different years of the Cziffra Festival and Péter Eötvös's Cziffra Psodia.
The government of Hungary has pronounced the hundredth anniversary of the birth of György Cziffra to be a memorial year, and UNESCO has added it to its list of jointly celebrated anniversaries.
The program is taking place as part of the György Cziffra anniversary year with the support of the Prime Minister's Office and the Bethlen Gábor Fund Management Ltd.
Curator: Eszter Veronika Kiss
Presented by: Müpa Budapest, György Cziffra anniversary
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