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Mahler, the matchmaker


Mahler, the matchmaker

Did you know that Mahler’s music has the power to lead lovers to each other? The story of Luca Eszter Balog and Viktor Molnár is proof.

Viktor Molnár and I met at the Leó Weiner Music School 11 years ago. We both took piano lessons from Dr. Emese Entzné Tőkés: I was in music school, and Viktor was a student of the conservatory. Even then I looked up to him because he played the piano so beautifully. For a year we had our lessons back to back, but we never really spoke, and our lives took different paths. He was admitted to the composer program of the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Instead of music, I chose a career in the natural sciences and became a biologist.

Unfortunately, during my university studies, I did not have enough time and had to give up piano lessons. But because I missed music so much, I attended a lot of classical music concerts, to make up for it. The Festival Orchestra quickly became my favorite, so whenever I could, I went to their concerts. It was also the Festival Orchestra which introduced me to Mahler: when they played his symphony no. 2 at three concerts in as many days, I bought student tickets to each of the performances. Mahler became my favorite composer.

In January 2022, I read in a Müpa Budapest concert booklet that Viktor had won a prize at the 2020 Müpa Budapest Musical Composition Competition, and that he would be debuting with his orchestral piece entitled Mars Mission in the Béla Bartók Concert Hall, with Róbert Farkas conducting the MÁV Symphony Orchestra. I was glad to see that an old acquaintance had been able to realize his dreams, had become a professional composer and was so successful. I sent him a message of congratulations, and I received a complimentary ticket in response. I was able to sit next to him in the ground-floor box at the concert.

So, we ended up meeting at Müpa Budapest on January 20, 2022. That was the first time we felt that we had really found one another. We then started going to lots of concerts together. For Christmas 2022, I bought Viktor two concert tickets to the Festival Orchestra’s Mahler performance in January: for January 20, in fact, exactly one year after our great encounter. I was worried he might get me the same thing, but fortunately, he had something else in mind for my Christmas present.

On January 20, when we were headed to the Festival Orchestra’s concert, we were still in the car in the parking lot – I had no idea what was coming – when Viktor asked me, “a year ago we came to the Palace of Arts as old acquaintances – how about going to this concert tonight as husband-to-be and wife-to-be?” He then pulled out an engagement ring, and I said yes. We listened to the Festival Orchestra’s Mahler concert as an engaged couple, and this was our first activity together as fiancée and fiancé.