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László Polgár (Bass)

Born: January 1, 1947 - Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 19, 2010 - Zürich, Switzerland

The Hungarian bass, László Polgár, studied at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest.

László Polgár joined the Hungarian State Opera in 1972. He was awarded at many international singing contests, winning first prizes at the Dvořák (1971), the Schumann (1974) and the Erkel (1975) Competitions as well as in Ostende (1977), and at the ones sponsored by Hungarian Radio (Budapest, 1977) and Luciano Pavarotti (Philadelphia, 1981), respectively. He also attended master-classes of Hans Hotter in Vienna.

As one of the leading basses of the Budapest Company, László Polgár's major roles include Osmin, Sarastro, Don Basilio, Philipp II and Gremin. He was greatly acclaimed in Budapest at the reprises of Don Giovanni (1982) as Leporello, and in the role of Gurnemanz at the 1983 reprise of Parsifal. He regularly has guest appearances throughout Europe (e.g. in Brussels and at the Covent Garden, in Bellini’s La Sonnambula in the latter).

László Polgár sang Osmin (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) in Hamburg and Buenos Aires, Rodolfo (La Sonnambula) in London, Catania and Madrid, Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte) in Paris, Nice, Zürich, Hamburg, Drottningholm and at the Salzburg Festival, Leporello (Don Giovanni) in Salzburg and Zürich, Publio (La Clemenza di Tito) in Salzburg and Vienna, Padre Guardian (La Forza del Destino) in Vienna and Catania, Il Rè (Aida) in Munich, Timur (Turandot) in Munich, Sparafucile (Rigoletto) in Munich and Budapest, Fürst Boland (Fierrabras) in Vienna, Gurnemanz (Parsifal) in Antwerp, Budapest, Zürich and Berlin, König Marke (Tristan und Isolde) in Budapest and with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Tokyo, Lodovico Nardi (Die Gezeichneten) in Zürich, Conte di Walter (Luisa Miller) in Munich and Zürich, Don Basilio (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) in Brussels and Zürich, Moses und Aaron in Amsterdam and London, Daland (Der fliegende Holländer) in Zürich, Seneca (L'Incoronazione di Poppea) in Amsterdam, Oroveso (Norma) in Tel Aviv, Rocco (Leonore) in Lausanne and Paris, Prefetto (Linda di Chamounix) in Zürich, Sir Giorgio (I Puritani) in Zürich, Wagner/Zeremonienmeister (Dr. Faust) at the Salzburg Festival, Enrico VIII (Anna Bolena) in Zürich ...

László Polgár worked with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Bruno Bartoletti, Pierre Boulez, Oleg Caetani, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnányi, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Guiseppe Patané, Michel Plasson, Sir Georg Solti, Pinchas Steinberg, Christian Thielemann, Marcello Viotti, Franz Welser-Möst as well as with stage directors such as Pina Bausch, Flimm, Götz Friedrich, Peter Musbach, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Peter Stein ...

One of his most important parts was the title role of Duke Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók. László Polgár performed it in either concert form or on stage with nearly all important conductors and orchestras. Among his projects were various performances in Zürich, Luisa Miller in Munich and Milano, Duke Bluebeard's Castle in Odense, at the Salzburg Festival, at the Montpellier Festival, in Paris, London and on tour with Pierre Boulez, Parsifal in Berlin and at the Edinburgh Festival, Fidelio at the Salzburg Easter Festival, in Berlin and Tokyo (with Sir Simon Rattle).

László Polgár was an outstanding oratorio and Lieder singer and professor at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest and at the Hochschule für Musik in Winterthur, Switzerland,. He died in Zürich in 2010, at the age of 63.

László Polgár participated at a number of Hungaroton recordings (Balassa: The Door Outside; Lendvay: La p… respectueuse; Mozart Mass No. 6; Vesperae K. 339; Petrovic: Crime and Punishment and Händel: Atalanta). Among his many other recordings are Don Giovanni, La Clemenza di Tito and Fidelio with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Die Gezeichneten, Poliuto and Fierrabras with Claudio Abbado as well as Duke Bluebeard's Castle with Pierre Boulez (Grammy Award 1999). He also recorded Il Rè (Aida) conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt for Teldec.

Source: Liner notes to the CD ‘J.S. Bach: Cantatas No. 56 & No.82’ conducted by Pál Németh (Hungaroton, 1985); Cæcilia Lyric Department Website; Ruud Janssen (February 2006); Various obituaries (September 2010)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2001), Maria Th. Langsch (August 2001); Yoël L. Arbeitman (October 2010)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Pál Németh


BWV 56, BWV 57, BWV 58, BWV 59, BWV 82, BWV 152

Links to other Sites

László Polgár, Bass (Caecilia Lyric Depertment)
László Polgár - bass (Wikipedia)

Hungarian bass Laszlo Polgar dies at 63 by Pablo Gordoni (AP)
Laszlo Polgar, Bass for Zurich Opera, Dies at 63 (NYT)

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