Aloys (born 14 May 1931) and Alfons (9 October 1932 – 5 May 2010) Kontarsky were German duo-pianist brothers who were associated with a number of important world premieres of contemporary works. They had an international reputation for performing modern music for two pianists, although they also performed the standard repertoire and they sometimes played separately. After suffering a stroke in 1983, Aloys retired from performing.
The Kontarsky brothers were both born in Iserlohn. Aloys received early tuition from Franz Hanemann. He later studied at Cologne and Hamburg with Else Schmitz-Gohr, and with Eduard Erdmann in Hamburg.
Their first public concert was in 1949, in which they played Stravinsky's Concerto for Two Pianos. In 1955 they formed their piano duo "Klavierduo Kontarsky" and performed regularly from 1959 until Aloys became paralyzed in 1983 as the result of two strokes. In 1955, they won first prize for piano duo at the fourth German Radio International Music Competition.
From 1962, Aloys and Alfons were instructors at the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music. Aloys was also a member of the Darmstadt International Chamber Ensemble. From 1963, Aloys was an instructor at the Cologne Courses for New Music. Alfons was a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts and of the Deutscher Musikrat (German Music Council, a member of the International Music Council) and held professorships at Music Universities in Cologne, Munich and the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 1965 Aloys formed a duo with the cellist Siegfried Palm.
As a duo, they gave first performances of works by Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Mauricio Kagel, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Henri Pousseur, Luis de Pablo, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann.
They made frequent tours of Western European countries, the Middle East, and the Americas, and also appeared in Australia and on two tours in Southern Africa. Their recordings are numerous, and include Bartók's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Stockhausen's Mantra, supervised by the composer, once issued on LP by Deutsche Grammophon and reissued on CD 16 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition, and Structures for two pianos by Pierre Boulez. Their more traditional fare includes the complete Brahms Hungarian Dances and Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, D.940. They are heard on the soundtrack of the 1990 film Henry & June, playing Debussy's Petite Suite.
In 1974, Alfons made the first recording with the original instruments of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821, the arpeggione played by Klaus Storck and Alfons playing fortepiano. Aloys appeared in a recording of Stockhausen's Mikrophonie I playing the tam-tam, and Alfons participated in Mikrophonie II, playing the Hammond organ.
Their students included: York Höller, Steffen Schleiermacher, Christine Gerwig and Efraín González Ruano, Anna Haas-Niewiedział and Piotr Niewiedział, Douglas Nemish and Dominique Morel, Elena Hammel and Laura Sánchez, and many others.