Gyula Csapó

Gyula Csapo

Krapp's Last Tape -- after Samuel Beckett

Gyula Csapó (b. 1955)
Born in Pápa, Hungary, Gyula Csapó studied composition at the Bartók Béla Conservatory and the Liszt Ferenc Academy. He also studied privately under Zoltán Jeney. In 1979 he joined the New Music Studio, an avant garde group of Hungarian composers that included György Kurtág, Péter Eötvös, Albert Simon, and Zoltán Jeney. There he began a relationship with Albert Simon, eventually receiving a scholarship from France to study electronic music at the prestigious IRCAM in Paris from 1981-1982. Upon receiving the Woodburn fellowship, he moved to New York state in 1983, studying under Morton Feldman and coming into contact with John Cage, who recommended him for two grants from the New York Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. After his work began being performed around the world -- including a performance of Handshake After Shot at Lincoln Center in 1990 -- Csapó began teaching at Princeton, finally moving to Canada to teach Theory at the University of Saskatchewan in 1994.
Called by Morton Feldman "one of the most brilliant young composers I have met," and championed by John Cage, it is hardly surprising that Csapó's music has an unusual quality to it, an almost ethereal sense of presence that emerges from its unique instrumentations, pulsing drones, and oscillating fields. Despite the gamesmanlike intricacies of his mathematical compositional technique, his music is subtle, warm, and often very beautiful, a muted world of soft textures and timeless suspension. While some comparisons to Cage and Feldman are certainly inevitable, Csapó's music is generally more pleasing and certainly more accessible. Csapó is also a very literary-minded composer; not only has he turned to Beckett for inspiration, but also to Rumi, Racine, Kafka, Artaud, and the Hungarian poet János Pilinsky.


Krapp's Last Tape -- after Samuel Beckett -- (1975) Loosely inspired by Beckett's play, this theatrical work is for an "violinist-actor," a tape recorder, four spotlights and a sine-wave generator.

Other Csapó of Libyrinth Interest

Hommage à Franz Kafka -- (1974) "For any two groups of instruments capable of producing a) definite and b) indefinite (noise-like) sounds." (Unreleased)

Labyrinth -- (1990-91) For solo violincello, or five violincelli. (Unreleased)

Links/CDs/Sound Samples

The Budapest Music Center has a Web site where you can browse their catalog. They also have a Gyula Csapó page. (Visitors who do not speak Magyar may select the "English" option.)

You may listen to sound samples and/or purchase Csapó's CD online from below:

Csapó: Handshake after Shot
Gyula Csapó (Composer) / Audio CD / Released 1999

--A. Ruch
17 March 2001

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