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Mar 7 2022

György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments: A Classic Song Cycle of Modern Music

Tony Arnold and Movses Pogossian
Schoenberg Hall

Tony Arnold, soprano

Movses Pogossian, violin


Tony Arnold and violinist Movses Pogossian perform György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments, a probing musical response to the pithy thoughts preserved in Franz Kafka’s diaries and letters. Arnold and Pogossian have performed and recorded the cycle, and have collaborated intensely with the composer on numerous occasions.

William Kinderman, professor and Elaine Krown Klein Chair in Performance Studies at UCLA, will offer a concise twenty-minute introduction to this fascinating masterpiece, drawing on his own interview material with the 96-year-old composer. Kinderman will outline how Kurtág devised his cycle from precious literary fragments left by Kafka, manuscripts that were neglected by their author but rescued during the Third Reich by Kafka’s friend and the executor of his estate, Max Brod. The dramatic, almost operatic features of this music and its vivid symbolism culminate in the very last piece, with its vision of György and Márta Kurtág as metamorphosed creatures creeping through the dust.

György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments

György Kurtág’s 1986 song cycle Kafka Fragments consists of 40 settings and covers a vast range of expression. Described by Alex Ross as a “prince des compositeurs,” Kurtág is an uncompromising musician, whose Kafka Fragments are an hour-long adventure for the spirit and mind. In some respects, the Kafka cycle is comparable to Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, and like The Winter’s Journey, Kurtág’s work evades any straightforward deterministic outcome. “The true path”--a bold piece using quarter-tones that is lodged near the center of the cycle--embodies the quest for an elusive path, while ironically critiquing its attainment. “There are no pathways, there is only traveling itself,” becomes a motto that reminds us of affinities between Kurtág’s art and that of Luigi Nono, Samuel Beckett, and other modern artists.

“…an interpretation of the highest caliber, worthy of the high standard set by its few predecessors. In many ways, it represents an ideal performance.” – Opera News

 “…performance of an enormous skill and conviction.” – Boston Globe


Soprano Tony Arnold is a luminary in the world of chamber music and art song.  Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold, powerful interpreter,” she is internationally acclaimed as a leading proponent of contemporary music in concert and recording, having premiered hundreds of works by established and emerging composers.  She is a first prize laureate of both the Gaudeamus International and the Louise D. McMahon competitions. A graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University, Arnold was twice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival as both a conductor and singer. She currently is on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Violinist and UCLA Professor Movses Pogossian is an internationally renowned performer, recording artist, and committed advocate of new music. Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Dilijan Chamber Music Series, he is also a Founder/Director of the UCLA Armenian Music Program and a Head of the Los Angeles Chapter of Music for Food.

This event is supported by the Leo M. Klein and Elaine Krown Klein Endowed Chair in Performance Studies.

Like most of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s programs, this event is FREE! Register in advance for this event via the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.  Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Early arrival is recommended. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.

While Inside the Venue:

No Food or Drink allowed in the building.

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Self-service parking is available at UCLA’s Parking Structure #2 for events in Schoenberg Music Building and the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Costs range from $1 for 20 minutes to $20 all day. Learn more about campus parking.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is eager to provide a variety of accommodations and services for access and communications. If you would like to request accommodations, please do so 10 days in advance of the event by emailing ADA@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu or calling (310) 825-0174.


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Food and drink may not be carried into the theaters. Thank you!


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.