Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, Artist of the Nation, Kossuth Prize-winning pianist, composer, and iconic figure of Hungarian jazz, died early Sunday at the age of 80, the Hungarian Jazz Association announced. As written in their memorial, his personality was intertwined with the development and fulfillment of Hungarian jazz, and his death is an irreplaceable loss.
Béla Szakcsi Lakatos was born on July 8th, 1943 in Budapest. Under the influence of his father, he started playing the piano at the age of nine. He studied classical music, but his attention turned to jazz. In the mid-sixties, he introduced himself with his own bands. With his trio called LDL, he won shared first prize at the Hungarian Radio competition, and in 1970, he won second prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Aladár Pege’s quartet. This launched his international career, the peak of which is the records made with Special EFX, as well as the four solo albums released by the GRP label at the turn of the eighties and nineties. From 1972 he was a member of the band Rákfogó, then from 1980 of the band Saturnus. He was also involved in collecting gypsy folklore and transforming it into stage works. In 1975, he presented his first gypsy musical entitled Piros Karaván, which was followed by Once Upon a Gypsy Girl and then Gypsy Wheel. In 1988, the Rock Theater presented The Beast at the Szeged Outdoor Games.
In 2005, he was awarded the Kossuth Prize. In 2006, he was awarded the Prima prize.
In 2008, the new musical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written jointly with Gábor Miklós Kerényi (libretto) and Péter Sziámi (lyrics), was presented. His concerts were characterized by a combination of jazz and contemporary improvisation. With this, he went beyond the usual limits, creating a progressive performance that responds to both classical and contemporary music, folk music and jazz. In 2010, he received the Hazám Award.