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Budapest’s new orchestral overture to premiere Saturday in Heroes’ Square


Budapest’s new orchestral overture to premiere Saturday in Heroes’ Square

The free open-air performance, celebrating the 150th birthday of Budapest, also kicks off a new concert season, as the first performance in Hungary for Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the jubilee, 40th season of the ensemble. Audiences will be treated to the premiere of a contemporary orchestral overture, exploring the opportunities of fusion, and a thunderous performance of Eroica.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Municipality of Budapest announced a competition for composers for an orchestral overture invoking the 150-year-old capital, the unification of the three towns and the complex cultural, historical and urban identity of Budapest. First place in the competition was awarded to Junior Prima prize winning composer Patrik Oláh who, at still just twenty-five years old, is also the author of the first mass in the Lovari language. His works often explore the linkages between authentic Gypsy music and classical music. His new overture, entitled Fusion, is no different, experimenting with the musical possibilities of unification and blending, in an effort to depict the significance of the fusion which at one time led to the creation of Budapest.

“I have tried to rely on my emotional connections with the three cities to illustrate the hustle and bustle of Pest, the refined nature of Buda and the housing estate and Roman remains in Óbuda,” the composer said of his approach. Prior to the premiere on the evening of September 2, the Festival Orchestra will also record the piece in the studio, so that institutions and companies of the capital may use portions of the new Budapest overture at their events.

Is Eroica still so heroic?

The other piece on the program in Heroes’ Square, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3 in E flat major (“Eroica”) also promises to be a real treat. Already at its original premiere in 1805 it was hailed as the opening piece of a new chapter in music literature, surpassing any other symphonic work in terms of its grandiose and highly suggestive nature. The BFO performed the piece in London, Grafenegg and Bremen during its summer tour, with critics hailing Eroica as “outstanding”: “nothing like it heard in recent years,” “sensual,” “soft” or “energizing,” some said, with one review comparing the experience to “being knocked off the seat by thunder.”

“Iván Fischer always takes an exciting, fresh approach to pieces of classical symphonic music,” BFO managing director Orsolya Erdődy explains. “I am certain that the BFO’s performance will offer surprises to those familiar with Eroica, and will also touch those who are just encountering the symphony for the first time – and not only because of the Hungarian verbunkos motif in the final movement.”

The schedule for September 2:

  • 6.30 p.m. welcome remarks: Iván Fischer, BFO music director, and Gergely Karácsony, Mayor of Budapest
  • Patrik Oláh: Fusion – premiere of the new overture of Budapest
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: symphony no. 3 (in E flat major, “Eroica”), op. 55
  • 7.40 p.m. (approx.): Iván Fischer signs autographs for the audience

The concert is free of charge. Audience members may take their seats in the square beginning at 5.30 p.m. To ensure a more comfortable musical experience, organizers will hand out cardboard chairs at the venue.