In our newest series of interviews, we sit down with members of the Festival Orchestra’s Board of Trustees, whose roles in the life of the BFO are almost as important as those of our artists. First, meet Dr. Andrea Jádi Németh, head of bpv Jádi Németh Attorneys, who joined the BFO’s board in 2022. Interview by Júlia Váradi.
We are meeting in the beautiful conference room of the office of Jádi Németh Attorneys: our new trustee, the owner of the practice, is seated in front of a large contemporary work by prominent Hungarian artist István Haas. Let me start by asking if, in addition to music, you are also a supporter of the fine arts.
The artwork on display at the office is more reflective of my own personal interests. Whenever I have the opportunity, abroad and in Hungary of course, I make it a point to visit the latest exhibitions. It is not only modern art I’m interested in, though, but practically anything that is art.
To our delight, you recently joined the board of trustees of the BFO. We would love to know more about the people who find the Festival Orchestra so important that they agree to take on such responsibilities in support of it. Would you mind sharing with us what you believe is the most important information about you?
I’m a lawyer, with a very close relationship to classical music. Almost everyone else in my family is a musician, or is at least connected to music in some way. My mother was a recognized piano teacher, having taught many award-winning young Hungarian musicians. My sister is a cellist; my nephew is also a cellist; and my sister’s husband, my aunt and my uncle are violinists. My father is the only exception: he ran a used bookstore, which is of course also connected to the arts. I myself have also played the violin for many years. Although I did not end up becoming a musician, I have always believed that the legal profession can also be considered a type of art.
What do you mean?
Well, art is all about creating, giving and being present... But I could list a number of other parameters which also apply to the legal profession. I recently spoke about this in a TED-talk-like presentation. I tried to describe how the practice of law can be compared to the performing and other creative arts. If a contract is prepared truly well, or if I feel that I was successful in the courtroom and achieved the result I was hoping for, then I think that is similar to the experience of creating a particular piece of art or a quality professional production. At least this is what I tend to experience.
I imagine the career you have built - in the best sense of the word - also points to this. After earning your law degree at ELTE’s Faculty of Law, you pursued and completed additional studies at Harvard. Just being accepted to study there is no small feat, let alone to complete it as successfully as you have! This must require a very deeply rooted commitment to law. When did it start?
It was in high school, shortly before the school-leaving exams, that I awoke one morning to the realization that I want to be a lawyer. I did not even dare tell my parents at the time, because up until then I had planned to become an economist. Then, the day I entered through the doors of ELTE’s Law Faculty for the first time, I knew that this really is my world. It is a different matter, of course, that I ultimately also earned a degree in economics at Oxford.
My impression is that if I had to highlight one of your most typical characteristics, it would be courage. I’m sure that courage played a role in your admission to Harvard and in so many other things. Would you agree?
Yes, I do often sense courage in myself. At times, I also sense some foolhardiness, however. I like to be brave enough to overcome obstacles and exceed even my own boundaries if I feel strongly about something. I try to recognize the risks, but those are not what I focus on along the way. That’s undeniable. Additionally, I am fortunately someone who is never set back by defeat. On the other hand: failure motivates me.
I’m still certain, however, that it was primarily thanks to your preparation that you were able to achieve your goals. There are a number of examples from your career so far that prove this. For instance, you are very highly ranked in the international legal world.
My preparation was driven by my curiosity in every case. I do, of course, have a constant drive to work on new things, and to understand everything as deeply as possible. I’m an “omnivore” when it comes to law: I’m interested in every case. There is no task I am bored by. In this sense, again, I feel this profession to be like the arts, because I imagine that, too, requires a great deal of curiosity.
When did you come across the Budapest Festival Orchestra?
I don’t think I can answer that. Music and visiting concerts was an organic part of my childhood to begin with. I can’t even think back to a time when I was not aware of the BFO, in addition to other orchestras, of course. I grew up in Szombathely, and I remember how my girlfriends and I were always looking forward to international conducting competitions. Of course, we were interested in more than their musical performances: we watched them as competitors and were real fans of some young talents. Then one of my most unforgettable memories, a truly heartwarming experience, was when in the United States - in New York or Washington - I first came across the Festival Orchestra’s posters, and I was so incredibly proud to see the words “sold out” taped over them! Ever since being asked to join the board of trustees, I feel that the BFO is a family to which, it is a tremendous joy and experience to belong.
How has the notion of supporting culture become important for you?
I believe that preserving and supporting humankind’s culture is a shared cause: our cultural treasures, roots, bonds and belonging are what provide the foundations of our identity and set of values. Financial assistance is very important, crucial, in fact; but there are a thousand ways of helping, and not just financially. I myself try to help out in any way I can. I believe social responsibility is important. I have been working with a number of social organizations for many years, including the Harvard Club of Hungary, the American Chamber of Commerce or the Magic Lamp Wish Granting Foundation. I’m actively engaged as a leader in all of them. As far as classical music and the performing arts are concerned, the BFO is the first organization I am engaged with right now. I hope that I can be of use to this wonderful, internationally recognized orchestra. I am excited to get to work.