The extremely prestigious BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award was founded in 2008 by the Spanish bank BBVA. Besides acknowledging prominent figures across many fields of science, the award is also given in a single art category. Among other musical artists, Pierre Boulez, and György Kurtág were also awarded, and for the year 2020, the recognition in the field of arts was earned by Péter Eötvös.
Every year, the decision is made by an independent board of trustees, based on nominations from international experts and arts organisations. Conductor, composer and professor Péter Eötvös is the second Hungarian artist to receive this renowned award.
Eötvös was born in 1944 in the multinational Transylvania, Bartók, Ligeti, and Kurtág being his fellow countrymen. He grew up in Budapest, learnt music composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, later, at the age of 22, he went to Cologne where he graduated as a conductor. During his studies, he worked for a year as a répétiteur at the Cologne Opera House, and then spent six months in Japan with Stockhausen’s ensemble in 1970, which had a profound influence on his performing attitude and compositional thinking.
He lived in Western Europe (Germany, France, and the Netherlands) for decades before moving back to Budapest in 2004. In the meantime, he gained worldwide fame as a conductor and composer, and as a teacher he introduced generations to contemporary music. In 2004, he founded the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation, which is hosted by the Budapest Music Center. He holds several master classes a year for young conductors and composers, and also launched the foundation’s mentoring programme in 2018.
At his latest masterclass at the Budapest Music Center, Eötvös taught the participants of the mentoring programme together with György Kurtág, who celebrated his 95th birthday, and recently performed his orchestral composition Sirens’s Song with the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra. In November 2021, he is going to conduct the world premiere of Sleepless, his newest opera on the stage of the Berlin State Opera.