János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter​​

János Négyesy was born in Budapest, Hungary, on September 13, 1938, and died on December 20, 2013. His father was taken by the Nazis to a concentration camp, from where he never returned. He got his first violin at the age of four, and only six months later, he gave his first public concert at his school. According to him, this was the moment when he decided to become a violinist. He later became a student of Ferenc Gábriel at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music of Budapest. He introduced him to Tibor Varga, a former student of Gábriel before World War II. After receiving an invitation in 1965, Négyesy moved to Detmold and continued his studies with Varga. From 1970 to 1974, he served as concertmaster of the Radio Berlin Orchestra, which Lorin Maazel led at the time. In 1976 he was invited by French composer Pierre Boulez to IRCAM for a week of performances. This invitation resulted in a commission for Négyesy to write a book on violin techniques.

In 1979, while staying in Lisboa, he received a phone call at 3 a.m. asking him if he would join the Music Department at UCSD. Later it turned out that this call changed his life: as of 2012, he was an active teacher at UCSD. It was there in San Diego where he met Finnish violinist Päivikki Nykter, a former student of his, who became his wife in 1992. During the past decades, they made several recordings together, the complete violin duos of Béla Bartók and compositions dedicated to them, among others.

Numerous composers have dedicated pieces to Négyesy (probably the most notable is One6 by John Cage), including Attila Bozay, Carlos Fariñas, Vinko Globokar, Georg Hajdu, Robert Wittinger, Roger Reynolds, and Isang Yun. He also has notable recordings of pieces of composers like John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Kaija Saariaho.

A versatile recitalist and chamber musician, violinist Päivikki Nykter, is equally at home with standard repertoire as well as contemporary music. A native of Finland, she is a graduate of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Ms. Nykter served as an Artist-in-Residence at the University of California San Diego Music Department from 1994 to 2006. She is now a freelance violinist maintaining a busy concert schedule as well as teaching the Alexander Technique both in the US and Europe. Ms. Nykter is an artistic director of a Chamber Music Concert Series in Lappeenranta, Finland. She has recorded on Neuma, Aucourant Records, CRI, Old King Cole, Omega Editions and Mode labels.


János Négyesy

With John Cage in La Jolla, 1986

With Päivikki Nykter, Joe Kucera, and Robert Scott Thompson — Warren Studios, La Jolla, 2000

With Morton Feldman, Berlin, 1971

János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter​ — Warren Studios, La Jolla

…a memorial to my dear friend…

In 1989, at the request of János Négyesy, I composed an extended work for violin solo – Sutras. János performed the work many times in recitals around the world and recorded it, in an edited version, for Neuma Records in 1995 (Neuma 450-95a). The composition also appears on the disc Music for Strings (Aucourant Records AUREC 0104) in the original unabridged form and released in 2001.

János passed away on December 20, 2013. As a memorial to my dear friend, one of the most inspiring and kindest musicians I have known, I revisited the original recordings of Sutras and recast them into this work.

— rst (12/31/13)