Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra are celebrating their 40th birthday during the 2023-2024 season. They have magical concerts and brand-new season passes in store, bringing their audience unchanged quality and enthusiasm in their jubilee season as well – tuned to community. Season passes go on sale for the general public on April 4.
“Life begins after 40,” according to conductor Iván Fischer, the Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO), gearing up for its 40th, jubilee season. The story of the orchestra started on December 26, 1983, at the Liszt Academy. Everyone thinks back on that very first special concert as an experience unlike any other, unleashing explosive energies never seen before at a performance by a symphony orchestra. The atmosphere was indescribable!
Iván Fischer, Music Director of the BFO, adds: “Now, the Budapest Festival Orchestra is embarking on a new era, when we are sharing and spreading the experiences collected in our forty years. This is no small task: we are not only responsible for the future of classical music, but also for determining what music can do for people and for our shared future.”
Recalling the previous years, Orsolya Erdődy, the BFO’s Managing Director, pondered, “how many concerts have we performed over the four decades? Maybe even we can’t keep count. We played at the opening of the concert hall in Suzhou, a city of ten million inhabitants, gave a concert in a youth detention center, and performed at the Lucerne Festival and in the wonderful concert hall of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, but also in a medical spa, at the edge of the pool, in a hospital for expectant mothers, in churches, synagogues, and nursing homes, as well as at Cocoa Concerts. It is a tremendous honor, after various other awards, for the BFO to have been named the Orchestra of the Year in 2022 by the votes of Gramophone’s audience. Thank you to Friends of the Orchestra in Hungary and abroad, the past and present cultural administration of Hungary and the leadership of Budapest for believing in us.”
BFO 40 – what do we have coming up?
The Budapest Festival Orchestra will kick off the 2023-2024 season with a major outdoor concert and an opera premiere. In celebration of the 150th birthday of Budapest, in Heroes’ Square, the orchestra will perform an overture composed specifically for this occasion. This season, Iván Fischer will direct Debussy’s unique musical drama, Pelléas and Mélisande, levitating on the edge between dream and reality; the performance will feature an international cast, starring Bernard Richter and Patricia Petibon in the lead roles. The opera will premiere in Spoleto, and, following its debut in Hungary, it will head to the Vicenza Opera Festival and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
One special gem of the season will be the BFO’s concert entitled Compassion: “Bach’s St. Matthew Passion will provide the framework of the concert, but, in addition to the Passion of Jesus, we will also express our sympathy for other innocent victims,” Fischer summarized the orchestra’s vision for the concert. The result will be a colorful, allusion-filled musical reflection on the world. Performing the Passion will be the Cantemus Mixed Choir and select international soloists, with Peter Harvey in the role of Jesus. Their performance of Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin will not be ordinary, either: presented in collaboration with the Éva Duda Company, known for its sweeping and daring choreographies, the production will be featured as part of the Bridging Europe Festival, organized jointly with Müpa Budapest. Christmas offers several reasons for celebration: the BFO will crown the holiday season with a Jubilee Surprise Concert. Additionally, Iván Fischer will conduct pieces by Liszt, Rachmaninoff and a refreshingly plentiful amount of Brahms.
A cavalcade of conductors and soloists
The ensemble will be joined once again this season by a number of prominent, exciting and unique conductors. Still only thirty-five, Lahav Shani will return to conduct the BFO. “An exceptionally talented conductor, directing the orchestra naturally and with exemplary energy and precision.” Grammy-winner Paavo Järvi will return to the orchestra with a real treat, the trio of Tüür, Schumann and Sibelius. Gérard Korsten, who, according to the Telegraph's critic, spins and strikes like a fencer on the podium, with the orchestra taking up his speed perfectly, will share his selection of music by Haydn and Mozart. Gábor Takács-Nagy, who considers the two composers his “spiritual medicine,” will continue his infinite series of Haydn and Mozart.
In addition to international singers, there will be no shortage of instrumental soloists, either: Yefim Bronfman, with his flowing style and richly romantic world of colors, will show off his skills with a Brahms concerto. Anna Vinnitskaya, described by The Washington Post as a “true lioness,” will perform Rachmaninoff; the extraordinarily dynamic Dejan Lazić will share a Liszt concerto; the mesmerizing Dmitry Shishkin will enchant the audience on the piano with a Mozart piece; and Kossuth Prize winner Dénes Várjon will perform Dohnányi.
They will welcome two superstars of the cello, the multifaceted legend Steven Isserlis and Kian Soltani. The “exceptionally talented” Marc Bouchkov; Veronica Eberle, playing a 1693 Stradivarius, and Rachel Podger, the “unsurpassed British glory of the Baroque violin,” will show off the infinite colors of the violin. On the cimbalom, Jenő Lisztes, who has captivated audiences at Carnegie Hall, the Musikverein and the BBC Proms with the BFO, will also be joining the orchestra. Fruzsina Hara, who was once the first female trumpet student at the Liszt Academy and today plays with some of the world's leading orchestras, will perform on the Baroque trumpet.
Season passes and BFO stories
The BFO is offering ten different passes for this season. As a new option, for the first time ever, audiences will have the opportunity to purchase season passes exclusively for performances at the Liszt Academy or at Müpa Budapest. They have three jubilee season passes: the Doráti and the Solti pass includes all performances at Müpa Budapest, while the Ormándy pass covers all concerts at the Liszt Academy. Paying tribute to conductor István Kertész, they are launching a brand-new season pass this fall. Their acclaimed series, Iván’s Stories, will continue: to round out the musical experience, Iván Fischer will share exciting background information on the works performed at concerts forming a part of the season pass. Season passes go on sale for the general public on April 4.
Their publication, presenting the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s jubilee season, collects poignant, kind and moving BFO stories shared with the orchestra by members of their audience, musicians and colleagues. Captured by photographer Gábor Máté, the director and instructor of the MOME Photography Department, they are proud to share these now with the general public. Read about a young boy living with autism, whose life was changed by the BFO’s folk music ensemble; an unforgettable 93rd birthday; and a couple who have collected 400 BFO concert tickets over the years. The Budapest Festival Orchestra will continue to work for its audiences in the upcoming season – tuned to community.
For more information, visit bfo.hu