Budapest Festival Orchestra

When Iván Fis­ch­er found­ed the Budapest Fes­ti­val Orches­tra togeth­er with pianist Zoltán Koc­sis in 1983, he made a per­son­al dream come true. The orchestra’s core phi­los­o­phy has been to form a team of cre­ative, risk-tak­ing musi­cians who con­tin­ue to devel­op their musi­cian­ship in orches­tral and cham­ber music, and the solo reper­toire. Mr. Fis­ch­er intro­duced many reforms rang­ing from an intense, indi­vid­ual rehearsal tech­nique to encour­ag­ing and pro­mot­ing each musician’s cre­ative activ­i­ties. It is the inno­v­a­tive approach to music, the musi­cians’ com­plete ded­i­ca­tion and their per­ma­nent striv­ing for excel­lence that rock­et­ed the Budapest Fes­ti­val Orches­tra into the group of the world’s top orches­tras. This young orches­tra is now a fre­quent guest of the major inter­na­tion­al fes­ti­vals; its record­ings have won numer­ous awards. The BFO won Gramophone’s Orches­tra of the Year Award in 2022.

At home in Budapest the BFO has become the most pop­u­lar Hun­gar­i­an orches­tra, play­ing usu­al­ly to capac­i­ty audi­ences at Müpa Budapest and in the Franz Liszt Acad­e­my. Every sea­son, two weeks are devot­ed to com­mu­ni­ty pro­grams, where the musi­cians of the orches­tra take music to schools, nurs­ing homes, church­es and com­mu­ni­ty cen­ters. They orga­nize a tour of Hungary’s aban­doned syn­a­gogues in order to bring life and atten­tion to these build­ings and pro­mote tol­er­ance.

A num­ber of inno­v­a­tive con­certs have made head­lines all over the world. The autism-friend­ly cocoa con­certs bring the joy of music to the whole fam­i­ly. Audi­ence choice con­certs have been pre­sent­ed with great suc­cess in Hun­gary and inter­na­tion­al­ly, includ­ing at the Lon­don Proms. The Music Marathon at Müpa Budapest fea­tures one com­pos­er in 11 con­certs on a sin­gle day. The Mid­night Music cycle attracts a young audi­ence that sits among the orches­tra musi­cians on bean­bags. The orchestra’s own Bridg­ing Europe fes­ti­val, co-orga­nized with Müpa Budapest, focus­es on pre­sent­ing the cul­ture of a dif­fer­ent Euro­pean nation every Sep­tem­ber, while the the BFO’s annu­al open-air con­cert attracts thou­sands of music-lovers to the Heroes’ Square in cen­tral Budapest.

The BFO’s opera pro­duc­tions are usu­al­ly direct­ed by Iván Fis­ch­er as staged con­certs designed for con­cert halls. In New York Magazine’s 2013 list of the city’s top clas­si­cal music events, the BFO’s Mar­riage of Figaro was vot­ed the best of the year. Oth­er suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tions have been invit­ed to major music cen­ters, includ­ing the Most­ly Mozart Fes­ti­val, the Edin­burgh Fes­ti­val and the Abu Dhabi Fes­ti­val. From 2018 the BFO will be the res­i­dent orches­tra of the year­ly Vicen­za Opera Fes­ti­val in the unique Teatro Olimpi­co.

Since its foun­da­tion forty years ago, the BFO’s Music Direc­tor has been Iván Fis­ch­er. Its first prin­ci­pal guest con­duc­tors were Sir Georg Solti and Sir Yehu­di Menuhin. This posi­tion is cur­rent­ly held by Gábor Takács-Nagy. The BFO has com­mis­sioned and pre­miered many new com­po­si­tions. In order to edu­cate young tal­ents, the orches­tra has devel­oped an appren­tice scheme in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Euro­pean Union Youth Orches­tra and the Ver­bier Fes­ti­val. Its first prin­ci­pal guest con­duc­tors were Sir Georg Solti and Sir Yehu­di Menuhin. Now this posi­tion is held by Gábor Takács-Nagy. Since its foun­da­tion over thir­ty years ago, the BFO’s Music Direc­tor has been Iván Fis­ch­er. The Budapest Fes­ti­val Orches­tra is a foun­da­tion gov­erned by a Board of Direc­tors and receives sub­sidy from the Hun­gar­i­an State and the Munic­i­pal­i­ty of Budapest. Friends’ Cir­cles and Sup­port­ers’ Clubs of the Budapest Fes­ti­val Orches­tra have been formed in Hun­gary, the US, the UK, Switzer­land and Ger­many.

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