Zsigmond Szathmáry

(b. 1939, Hódmezővásárhely).

Hungarian composer, now resident in both Germany and Hungary, of mostly chamber and organ works that have been performed in Asia, Europe and North America; he is also active as an organist and pianist.

Mr. Szathmáry studied composition with Ferenc Szabó and organ with Ferenc Gergely at the Ferenc List Academy of Music in Budapest from 1958–63. He then studied organ with Alois Forer in Vienna and with Helmut Walcha in Frankfurt am Main from 1963–66 and attended the Kölner Kurse für Neue Musik, where he studied with Christoph Caskel, Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt, where he studied with György Ligeti, from 1964–67.

Among his honours are First Prize in the competition for organists Budapest (1960), the Bach-Preis-Stipendium from the city of Hamburg (1972) and the Franz Liszt Badge from the National Franz Liszt Memorial Committee in Budapest (1987). He has been a member of the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg since 1973.

As an organist, he has worked primarily in Hamburg, but also at the cathedral in Bremen. He has given tours throughout the world and has given more than 120 world premières, including music by Péter Eötvös, Vinko Globokar, Heinz Holliger, Hans Ulrich Lehmann, and other composers.

As a pianist, he has played music by Helmut Lachenmann and other composers.

He taught at the Musikhochschule Lübeck from 1972–76 and the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover from 1976–78. He then taught as a professor at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Freiburg im Breisgau from 1978–2004. In addition, he has given lectures throughout Europe and in Japan, South Korea and the USA and is a regular lecturer at both the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt and the summer academy for organists in Haarlem.

His primary publishers are the Bärenreiter-Verlag and Moeck Musikinstrumente + Verlag.


E-mail address:

Website: (German only)

SELECT LIST OF WORKS (dates unavailable for most works)


Drei Orchesterstücke, 2001–02

Cadenza con ostinati, violin, small orchestra (version of chamber work)

Drei Aphorismen

Fünf Sätze, organ, small orchestra


Katharsis, clarinet, organ, percussion, 1972

Organ – Sho, shō (mouth organ from Japan), organ, barrel organ, 1980

Cadenza con ostinati, violin, organ, 1994 (also version for violin, small orchestra)

Discourse, trombone, violin, 2002, revised 2005

Sense of Rhythm, organ, percussion, 2011

Dies iræ, organ, percussion, 2015

Alpha, flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, piano

Con-tact-versation, violin, fixed media

Et Angustia, 7 players

Evokation, flute, viola, double bass, piano, 2 percussion

Monolog, flute, live electronics

Movimenti, flute, piano

Solosonate, violin


Halotti beszéd – Grabrede (cantata, text from an anonymous 12th-century text from Hungary), alto, baritone, mixed chorus, orchestra, 2003–04

Missa da Pacem – Kyrie, Gloria, mixed chorus


Air, baritone, organ, fixed media, 1978

Disperatione (texts by Anne Frank, the Bible), soprano, baritone, flute, oboe, French horn, trombone, piano, harpsichord, 3 percussion

Drei Lieder auf Gedichte von Endre Ady (text by Endre Ady), voice, piano

Ein Psalm, alto, violin, organ


Drei Klavierstücke


Dialogue I, 1970

Dialogue II – Myohorengekyo, organ, fixed media, 1971

Mixtur, 1974

Work in progress, 4 organs, 1987

Strophen, organ, fixed media, 1988, revised 2001

B-A-C-H 'Hommage à...', 1994

Sospiro, 2000

Lacrimosa, 2001

Feuertaufe, 2004

Moving Colours, 2006

Vibro (Zsongás), 2007

Janus, 2008

Leichte Brise, großer Orkan, 2011

Memory of Franz Liszt, 2011

Bremer Dommusik, 2 organs, 2013

Sonido Ibérico, 2014

mors et vita, 2015


Stück, organ 4 hands, fixed media