Performance Friday, October 28, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Budapest Festival Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
András Schiff kicks off his season-long focus on Bartók with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer, who together perform not one but two of the composer’s piano concertos. One is part of a group of pieces Bartók wrote in the mid-1920s to expand his piano repertoire; the other was completed shortly before he died in 1945 for his pianist wife.


  • Budapest Festival Orchestra
    Iván Fischer, Music Director and Conductor
  • András Schiff, Piano


  • SCHUBERT Overture to Die Zauberharfe
  • BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
  • BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3
  • SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major


  • 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.

    Iván Fischer

    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 international prizes.

    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 2012.

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  • András Schiff

    András Schiff was born in Budapest and started taking piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued musical studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with professors Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm. Recitals and special cycles (including the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Bartók) form an important part of his activities. Between 2004 and 2009, he performed complete cycles of the Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in 20 cities throughout the United States and Europe, a project recorded live in the Tonhalle Zürich and released in eight volumes for ECM New Series.

    This season, Mr. Schiff was named a Perspectives artist by Carnegie Hall, where he performs in a series of concerts that focus on Bartók and the legacy the composer left on their native Hungary. Unique to this series are the many colleagues who join Mr. Schiff during the 12 concerts included in his Perspectives-most of whom he has known since childhood. Additional North American performances take place in Philadelphia, Princeton, Vancouver, Toronto, Berkeley, Boulder, Napa, and Washington, DC.

    In 1999, Mr. Schiff created his own chamber orchestra, Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians, and close friends. He also works every year with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. From 1989 until 1998, he was artistic director of Musiktage Mondsee, a chamber music festival near Salzburg, and in 1995, he founded the Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte with Heinz Holliger in Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland. In 1998, Mr. Schiff started a similar series, entitled Homage to Palladio at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. From 2004 to 2007, he was artist-in-residence of the Kunstfest Weimar, and in 2007-2008 was pianist-in-residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    Mr. Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for London/Decca (1981-1994), Teldec (1994-1997), and since 1997, ECM New Series. He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammys.

    Mr. Schiff has been awarded numerous prizes, including Zwickau's Robert Schumann Prize, Italy's Premio della critica musicale Franco Abbiati, the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize, the Wigmore Medal, and the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize; in 2006, he was named an Honorary Member of the Beethoven House in Bonn. Also in 2006, Mr. Schiff and the music publisher G. Henle Verlag began collaborating on Mozart and Bach editions. To date, both volumes of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier were edited in the Henle original text with fingerings by Mr. Schiff.

    Mr. Schiff has been made an honorary professor by the conservatories in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich, and a special supernumerary fellow of Balliol College in Oxford. He is married to violinist Yuuko Shiokawa.

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Bartók Piano Concerto No. 3 (Allegretto)
Budapest Festival Orchestra; Ivá Fischer, Conductor; András Schiff, Piano
Warner Classics International

At a Glance

This concert presents two works each by Schubert and Bartók, seemingly divergent composers from different eras who had in common a love for their native culture’s folk music, a highly original melodic gift, and a history of painful struggle for public acceptance. The two Schubert pieces illustrate the composer’s mastery of the symphonic medium, though he was known mainly for songs and piano pieces. The Bartók concertos illustrate two drastically different sides of his sensibility, though both are deeply enmeshed in Eastern European folk music.
Program Notes
Perspectives: András Schiff

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