Born March 2, 1931; died February 4, 2012
The Hungarian harpsichordist, pianist and organist János Sebestyén has died: he was 80. Born in Budapest, he studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music where his teachers included the organists János Hammerschlag and Ferenc Gergely, the pianist István Antal, and composers Ervin Major and Ferenc Szabó. He established a career as both an organist and a harpsichordist, and later founded the harpsichord classes at his alma mater where many of Hungary’s leading players studied under him. Graduating from the Academy he attended the harpsichord classes of Zuzana Růžičková in Prague. Alongside his teaching he was a frequent broadcaster and also worked as a producer at Hungarian Radio, and he was an enthusiastic jury-member at international keyboard competitions.
His discography was extensive, largely for Hungaroton, and included music by Bach, Handel, Hasse, Mozart, Carvalho, Pasquini, and, among more modern figures, Hindemith and Frank Martin.
As an author he wrote a book on Miklós Rózsa (1980) and a history of Hungarian Radio (1995). He was widely acknowledged for his contribution to music, receiving honours from the governments of Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Sweden and Italy.
His friend Judit Hidasi, writing on Sebestyén’s website, said ‘He loved and cherished his friends, his pupils and his colleagues. He was not simply a man – he was an "institution" and it is hard to believe that there will be no more Fillér utca concerts...’