Budapest Festival Orchestra
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fischer, Music Director and Conductor
Dénes Szabó, Chorus Master
Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin
Selections from Twenty-Seven Two- and Three-Part Choruses, BB 111
·· "Enchanting Song"
·· "God be with you!"
Selections from Twenty-Seven Two- and Three-Part Choruses with Orchestral Accompaniment, BB 111
·· "Loafers’ Song"
·· "Don’t leave here!"
·· "Don’t leave me!"
·· "Boys’ Teasing Song"
Concerto for Orchestra
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
Pre-Concert TalkPre-concert talk at 7 PM with Peter Laki, Visiting Associate Professor, Bard College.
The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of James Thurmond Smithgall in support of the 2018-2019 season.
At a Glance
Tonight’s concert charts the last 27 years of Bartók’s life. It opens with the Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin, based on a text by Menyhért Lengyel that the composer read in a Budapest literary journal at the beginning of 1917. A tale of a clash between an unlucky girl, her thuggish minders, and their victims, Bartók’s response to this pantomime grotesque displays both the seductiveness and savagery of his musical language.
In addition to writing works of staggering virtuosity for skillful theaters and symphony orchestras, Bartók was a committed music educator. He wrote numerous pieces for amateurs and schoolchildren, including his Twenty-Seven Two- and Three-Part Choruses. Despite the comparatively modest forces he envisaged, Bartók never patronized his performers, writing music that was both harmonically vivid and contrapuntally challenging.
Both qualities likewise surge through his Concerto for Orchestra, composed after Bartók had left his native Hungary and settled in New York. Although he found safety on this side of the Atlantic, Bartók’s initial impressions of the US were not entirely happy, separated as he was from his native land and lacking many opportunities to perform. Thankfully, a commission from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation for a new orchestral work provided the necessary inspiration. While the resulting Concerto for Orchestra may begin in the same murky world as The Miraculous Mandarin, it ends in dazzling triumph.
Budapest Festival Orchestra
When Iván Fischer founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra together with Zoltán Kocsis 35 years ago, he made a personal dream come true. The core of the orchestra’s philosophy is the total absence of daily routine: It is about taking the risk, initiative, and freedom to do things differently. Every concert is a joyful discovery of uncharted territory—a journey to new horizons in music, unexpected and surprising as if it were being played for the very first time. The orchestra is driven by an openness to the new and unknown, curiosity, and attention to detail. It is this innovative approach to music, and the musicians’ dedication and commitment to excellence, that has made the BFO the youngest of the world’s top-ranked orchestras.
The orchestra’s outstanding performances, inventiveness, and distinct ensemble tone have led to numerous accolades. It has won two Gramophone Awards and been nominated for a Grammy Award. Besides performing at the world’s most important venues, the orchestra’s driving mission is to serve its home audience in more than 70 concerts. The BFO makes ever more frequent appearances at alternative venues—in nursing homes, abandoned synagogues, hospitals, child-care institutions, prisons, and schools—where it can create an intimate connection with the audience.
The BFO’s innovative series include Dancing on the Square—one of the orchestra’s priority projects—which is as much about communal creativity, inclusion, tolerance, and equal opportunities as it is about music and dance. The Cocoa Concerts are another major initiative, providing a safe environment for children living with autism and their families. Through community and music education programs, the BFO strives to bring the beauty of classical music to every age group and stratum of society. It connects people, helping to build and strengthen communities through the power of music.
Iván Fischer is the founder and music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO), as well as honorary conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. In recent years, he has also gained a reputation as a composer, with his works being performed in the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Germany, and Austria. He has also directed a number of successful opera productions.
The BFO’s frequent worldwide tours and a series of critically acclaimed and fast-selling records (released first by Philips Classics and later by Channel Classics) have contributed to Mr. Fischer’s reputation as one of the world’s most high-profile music directors. The Berliner Philharmoniker has played under Mr. Fischer’s baton more than 10 times, and he spends two weeks of every year with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is also a frequent guest of leading US symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra. As a music director, he has led Kent Opera and Opéra National de Lyon. He was principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. Many of his recordings have been awarded prestigious international prizes.
Mr. Fischer studied piano, violin, cello, and composition in Budapest before continuing his education in Vienna, where he studied conducting under Hans Swarowsky. He is a founder of the Hungarian Gustav Mahler Society and patron of the British Kodály Academy, as well as an honorary citizen of Budapest. He has received the Golden Medal Award from the President of the Republic of Hungary, and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum for his services in promoting international cultural relations. The government of the French Republic named him a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2006, he was honored with the Kossuth Prize, Hungary’s most prestigious arts award. In 2011, he received a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award, Hungary’s Prima Primissima Prize, and the Dutch Ovatie Prize. Two years later, he was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2015, he was presented with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016, he won the Association of Music Critics of Argentina’s award for Best Foreign Conductor.
The Cantemus Choir is the prizewinning multinational senior pupils’ choir of the Zoltán Kodály Primary School in Nyíregyháza, Hungary. Since its formation in 1975, the choir has achieved the highest of standards in choral performance and has traveled extensively to give concerts, compete, and take part in festivals in countries across Europe and around the globe, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, South America, and the United States. The choir’s successes are founded on the principles of the Kodály music teaching method implemented under the leadership of Dénes Szabó, who teaches music to children in the senior years at the school, conducts and directs the choir, and serves as director of the Cantemus Choral Institute. The choir’s extensive repertoire is focused on the beauty of choral music, ranging from Gregorian chant through the Renaissance and Romantic periods to contemporary works. Some of the Hungarian repertoire is based on traditional folk music—including works by Bartók and Kodály—and some has been written especially with the choir in mind by leading contemporary Hungarian composers. As such, the choir has become a standard-bearer for both traditional and contemporary Hungarian music.