Budapest Festival Orchestra
The Budapest Festival Orchestra was formed in 1983 by Iván Fischer and Zoltán Kocsis.
Their aim, through intensive rehearsals and demanding the highest standards from musicians,
was to make the orchestra's concerts significant events in Hungary's musical life, and to
give Budapest a new symphony orchestra of international standing.
Since the 2000-2001 season, the orchestra has been operated by the BFO Foundation, which
the Budapest City Council regularly supports. In 2003, the Ministry of Education and
Culture declared the orchestra a national institution and added state funding.
The orchestra is not only a vital part of Budapest's music scene, but also a frequent and
appreciated guest at the world's most important centers of musical excellence, including
the Salzburger Festspiele, Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Lucerne, Montreux,
Tonhalle Zürich, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, Tokyo's Suntory
Hall, Hong Kong, and Paris.
In 2003, the orchestra signed with the Channel Classics label. Its recording of Mahler's
Symphony No. 6 was nominated for a Grammy Award, and its recording of Mahler's Symphony No.
2 received a Gramophone Award. In 2008, international critics voted the orchestra
one of the 10 best in the world.
Numerous outstanding international artists have performed with the orchestra, including
Sir Georg Solti (who was the orchestra's honorary guest conductor until his death), Yehudi
Menuhin, Kurt Sanderling, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Charles Dutoit, Gidon Kremer, Sándor
Végh, Ida Haendel, Rudolf Barshai, Kiri Te Kanawa, Radu Lupu, Vadim Repin, Helen Donath,
Maria João Pires, and Richard Goode.
The orchestra has presented many widely acclaimed opera productions, including Die
Zauberflöte, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Idomeneo,
Orfeo ed Euridice, Il Turco in Italia, and Don Giovanni. It has
also received praise for a cycle of performances marking the 50th anniversary of Bartók's
death, a cycle of Mahler symphonies, a series of performances for the centenary of Brahms's
death, a Bartók-Stravinsky cycle, and a Liszt-Wagner cycle.
The partnership between Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra has proved to be
one of the greatest success stories in the past three decades of classical music. Intense
international touring and a series of acclaimed recordings for Philips Classics (later for
Channel Classics) have contributed to Mr. Fischer's reputation as one of the world's most
visionary and successful orchestra leaders.
He has developed and introduced new types of concerts for young children, "surprise"
concerts where the program is not announced, extremely inexpensive "one forint concerts"
where he talks to the audience, open-air concerts in Budapest that attract tens of
thousands of people, as well as concert opera performances that apply scenic elements. He
has founded several festivals, including the Budapest Mahlerfest, which also serves as a
forum for commissioning and presenting new music.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Fischer works with the finest symphony orchestras of the world.
He has been invited to perform with the Berliner Philharmoniker more than 10 times; he
leads two weeks of performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra every year; and he
works regularly with leading US symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic
and The Cleveland Orchestra. His numerous recordings have won several prestigious
Mr. Fischer studied piano, violin, cello, and composition in Budapest, continuing his
education in Vienna, where he was in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class. He has also
recently been active as a composer. His works have been performed in the US, the
Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, and Austria.
Mr. Fischer received the Golden Medal Award from the President of the Republic of Hungary
and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, and was named Chevalier de l'Ordre des
Arts et des Lettres by the French government. In 2006, he was honored with the Kossuth
Prize, Hungary's most prestigious arts award. He is an honorary citizen of Budapest and
Ambassador of Hungarian Culture.
In February 2011, Mr. Fischer was appointed music director of the Konzerthaus Berlin and
principal conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. He begins his tenure in August