BUDAPEST, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Hungarians lined up at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music on Saturday to pay their respects to pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, lying in state at the Academy following his death on Nov. 6 at the age of 64.
A special ceremony was held in the afternoon in which the government, the music world, and friends addressed a limited gathering at the Academy that was projected onto a giant screen for the public gathered outside the building and broadcast live on public television.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover and other dignitaries attended the memorial.
Speaking for the nation, President Janos Ader reminisced on Kocsis as a young child playing Bach, and as a maestro conducting Richard Strauss and the many years of brilliant music in between.
He spoke of Kocsis as the world renowned performer who remained a favorite of the Hungarian people throughout his life, who twice won the Kossuth Prize, Hungary's highest cultural award, the first time when he was only 26 years old.
Ader spoke of Kocsis's devotion to the works of fellow Hungarian composer and pianist Bela Bartok and noted that both men were the same age, 64, when they died.
Composer Gyorgy Kurtag, who is 90 and was one of Kocsis's teachers at the Academy and later became a friend, noted that the entire country felt his loss.
Kocsis, he said, had performed many of Kurtag's own compositions and in doing so had turned them into diamonds.
His greatest gift to the Hungarians and the world, however, was his Bartok performances, Kurtag said, adding that Kocsis had searched for and found all of Bartok's own recorded performances of his works, proving that Bartok had been one of the world's greatest pianists.
Geza Kovacs, director of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Kocsis had been the music director and principal conductor since 1997, noted that while his recordings would remain for posterity, nothing could replace the man himself.
Kocsis's subsequent funeral was attended only by his family and closest friends.
Kocsis is survived by his wife, pianist Erika Toth, and by four children, Krisztian, Viktoria, Mark, and Rita from two marriages.