They play each note as if, at that particular moment, nothing in the world is more important.
György Kurtág (1926-) and Márta Kurtág, live, Kurtág (Játékok [Games]) and Bach (miscellaneous transcriptions), Paris, 2012
musical (and other) thoughts
Q. One last question—are you a believer?
A [G. Kurtág]. I do not know. I toy with the idea. Consciously, I am certainly an atheist, but I do not say it out loud, because if I look at Bach, I cannot be an atheist. Then I have to accept the way he believed. His music never stops praying. And how can I get closer if I look at him from the outside? I do not believe in the Gospels in a literal fashion, but a Bach fugue has the Crucifixion in it—as the nails are being driven in. In music, I am always looking for the hammering of the nails. . . . That is a dual vision. My brain rejects it all. But my brain isn’t worth much.
—Alex Ross, New Yorker blog, quoting György Kurtág: Three Interviews and Ligeti Homages (2009)