Press Room

Fischer and BFO Celebrate Silver Anniversary with U.S. Tour

BUDAPEST, Hungary, December 15, 2008 – Conductor Iván Fischer, a nominee for the 2008 Classic FM Gramophone Award for Artist of the Year, continues his landmark season with the Budapest Festival Orchestra by giving a Birthday Surprise Concert on December 26 in Budapest, to mark the 25th anniversary
of his founding the orchestra. Soon after, Fischer and the BFO stop for
a performance in Vienna on January 8, 2009, before heading to the U.S. for a six-city tour
that will include performances in New Brunswick, NJ (January 23) and
New York’s Carnegie Hall (January 24) as well as four cities in
Florida: West Palm Beach (January 27), Miami (January 28), Sarasota
(January 30), and Orlando (January 31). The program will feature Brahms
and Gypsy music with virtuoso Roma folk musicians joining the orchestra.

December 26, 1983 was the date of the first public concert by the
orchestra, which quickly won international acclaim and is now –
according to a recent critics’ and editors’ poll by Gramophonerecognized as one of the world’s top ten orchestras. The 25th anniversary concert in Budapest on December 26, 2008 will feature many surprises, beginning with a program that will be selected on the spot by the audience.
Choosing from a menu of approximately 200 works, the sheet music for
which will be housed in a truck outside the concert hall, the audience
will vote on what they want to hear. As the Budapest Festival Orchestra
librarian goes to retrieve the selected scores from the truck, audience
members will be treated to video clips showcasing highlights from the
orchestra’s first 25 years. Crowds at various Budapest locations will
view the concert for free on giant screens throughout the city, while
home viewers across the country watch and listen as the concert is
broadcast on Hungarian television.

A few weeks after stopping for a concert in Vienna on January 8, 2009,
Fischer and the BFO will cross the Atlantic for their six concerts in
the U.S. (January 23-31). Fischer describes the tour program, which
includes violin/cimbalom improvisations, Brahms’s Hungarian Dances and Symphony No. 1, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3, and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen:

“In this program we explore how classical music touches on Gypsy music.
It was first Liszt and then Brahms who fell in love with the performing
style of the Gypsies. There is no such thing as ‘Gypsy’ music. Gypsy
musicians play anything that you want to hear. But they have a style,
featuring richly ornamented, improvised, highly emotional and virtuoso
playing that is unparalleled. Great artists like Yehudi Menuhin had the
highest respect for Gypsy violinists. Brahms incorporated this
performing style in his compositions, especially the Hungarian Dances,
and sometimes in his symphonic and chamber works. For these concerts in
the U.S. we invited three special guests: the Gypsy violinist József
Lendvay and his son – who has the same name – as well as cimbalom
virtuoso Oszkar Okros. Although they are folk musicians, on this
special occasion they will perform together with the Budapest Festival

The performance at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, January 24 is the opening concert in Carnegie’s three-week-long “Celebrating Hungary” festival, part of the Hungarian Ministry of Culture’s Hungarian Culture Year, 2009.
The festival examines the lasting influence of Hungarian music and
artists on European mainstream culture. Fischer and the Budapest
Festival Orchestra last performed at Carnegie Hall in January 2006. On
that occasion, the New York Times called their performance of
Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “deeply felt,” concluding, “Mr. Fischer led
with a wedding of expressive heat and cool, exacting control.”

Fischer and the BFO began the 2008-09 season in September with the
fourth annual Budapest Mahlerfest, which was followed by a European
tour in October. Fall performances included Mozart’s Così fan tutte on tour and in Budapest. Other highlights for Fischer and the BFO in their silver-anniversary season include the release of two new recordings on the Channel Classics label: an all-Rossini album and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, scheduled for release in early 2009.

Iván Fischer and the BFO are one of the great success stories of the
orchestral world. From the beginning, Fischer’s vision was to transform
musical life in his native country and to make the new orchestra a star
on the international stage. Working with the crème-de-la-crème of his
country’s musicians, Fischer’s intensive rehearsal methods and his
emphasis on chamber music playing are just two key elements that have
kept the orchestra focused on the art of interpretation and the
singular joy of music-making. Innovating programming, “Cocoa Concerts”
for children, and other audience development initiatives have shown
Fischer to be a uniquely inspired – and inspiring – music director. The
result is an orchestra that is enormously popular at home, hugely
successful on disc (last year, their traversal of Mahler’s epic
Symphony No. 2 won the Editor’s Choice Gramophone Award), and very much
in demand around the world. Tim Ashley summed it up succinctly in
London’s Guardian:

“In 1983, when he was in his early 30s, Fischer decided to found his
own orchestra and run it on very different lines from anything that had
gone before. More than two decades later, the Budapest Festival
Orchestra has become one of the world’s great ensembles, playing to
packed houses at home and astounding audiences abroad with its
brilliance and intensity.”

A list of
Iván Fischer’s upcoming performances with both the Budapest Festival
Orchestra and Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra – where Fischer
is currently enjoying the first of two seasons as the NSO’s new
Principal Conductor – follows. For additional information about Iván
Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, visit the BFO’s web site:

Iván Fischer: Winter 2008 / Spring 2009 Engagements

December 26
Budapest Festival Orchestra Birthday Concert

Budapest, Hungary

January 8
Budapest Festival Orchestra

Vienna, Austria: – Brahms: Haydn Variations; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 with Akiko Suwanai; Brahms: Symphony No. 1

January 23-31
Budapest Festival Orchestra: Six-city U.S. tour

Jan 23 New Brunswick, NJ
Jan 24 Carnegie Hall, NYC
Jan 27 West Palm Beach, FL
Jan 28 Miami, FL
Jan 30 Sarasota, FL
Jan 31 Orlando, FL

Program of Gypsy and Gypsy-inspired music, including violin/cimbalom improvisations, Brahms’s Hungarian Dances and Symphony No. 1, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3, and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen

February 5-7
National Symphony Orchestra

Washington, DC: – Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Dvorák: Symphony No. 7

March 7-11
Budapest Festival Orchestra

Budapest, Hungary: – Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

March 24-30
American Residency Week with the National Symphony Orchestra

University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR

April 8, 9, 11
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Apr 8, 9 Amsterdam
Apr 11 Paris
Beethoven: “Coriolan” Overture, Piano Concerto No. 4 with Radu Lupu, Symphony No. 8

April 17, 18
National Symphony Orchestra

Washington, DC: – Kellogg: new work; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto with Leonidas Kavakos; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5

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