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AHF Cultural News: Iván Fischer

The Budapest Festival Orchestra was formed in 1983 by Iván Fischer and Zoltán Kocsis, with musicians "drawn from the cream of Hungary's younger players," as The Times of London put it. Fischer will also serve as National Symphony Orchestra Conductor in Washington, DC for two years7/11/2011 - Ivan Fischer received the Royal Philharmonic Society's (England) prestigious award for excellence in live performance in 2011.  The award was presented in May.  Fischer took the Conductor  award ahead of fellow nominees Semyon Bychkov and Esa Pekka Salonen.  The Hungarian conductor wowed audiences this year with a Beethoven  Symphony cycle that alternated the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a period instrument ensemble, with his own modern-instrument Budapest Festival Orchestra.

"I am really deeply, and very, very happy about this wonderful gift," Fischer told BBC Music Magazine.  "For me, the Beethoven Cycle was a very special experience, because it gave me a lot of thoughts about playing Beethoven on period and modern instruments.  It was a very exciting experiment.  I don't feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing between the two extremes, but instead, I am learning something about what the orchestra of the future will be like."

The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards have been running since 1989 and are traditionally presented in May at the Dorchester Hotel in London.  The Society itself is arguably the most prestigious of its kind in the world -- founded in 1813, the works it has commissioned include Beethoven's Choral and Mendelssohn's Italian Symphonies.

The Takacs Quartet was also honored by the Royal Philharmonic Society, for excellence in live performance in 2011.  The Quartet was singled out for the Chamber Music and Song Award for a Beethoven cycle at the Southbank that the jury described as a "tour de force." Further information is available in the June, 2011 issue of the BBC Music Magazine.

3/12/2009 - Iván Fischer Conducts Tchaikovsky – April 16-18, 2009

Iván Fischer, the National Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, returns to the stage of the Kennedy Center concert hall April 16-18, 2009. Fischer will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and the composer’s Violin Concerto, with Leonidas Kavakos, soloist. Also on the program is a new work by American composer Daniel Kellogg, titled “Western Skies.” The new work was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are available by phone, 202 467-4600.

10/30/2007 - Iván Fischer returns to Washington in November, conducts National Symphony... Recently appointed as the National Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, Iván Fischer returns to Washington in November to conduct two concerts early in the month. Fischer conducts the NSO on November 1-3, 2007 in an all-Beethoven program, including overtures to Egmont and Coriolan, the Fifth Symphony, and the Violin Concerto with Nikolaj Znaider. During November 8-10, Fischer will lead the orchestra in Smetana’s Ma vlast, interspersed with Dvorak’s Moravian Duets, sung by soprano Carolyn Betty and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, and Dvorak’s Nocturne in B major for String Orchestra. Also on the program is Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1, with Emmanuel Pahud. Fischer and the soloists will participate in AfterWords discussions on November 1 and November 8, during which they answer questions from the audience and discuss the music, after the concert. For tickets, call (202) 467-4600 - Zoltan Bagdy

Gramophone picks once more Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra for "CD of the Month."7/17/2007 - Gramophone picks once more Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra for "CD of the Month." In its July 2007 issue, “Gramophone,” the prestigious British classical-music monthly, announced that it selected a new recording by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, under its conductor, Ivan Fischer, as the magazine’s “CD of the Month.” The recording is Richard Strauss’ “Josephslegende, an early ballet score by Strauss, rarely heard, either in concert, on disc or in the theater. Gramophone praises the conductor and the orchestra for the recording, saying, “Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra throw their all into the work, unearthing all its eroticism, theatricality, and disturbing undertones.” Fischer and the Festival Orchestra were picked for the “CD of the Month” the second time in a year, a rare distinction. Their previous selection was for the Mahler Second Symphony, announced by Gramophone in its special awards issue late 2006. To read the review, go to www.gramophone.co.uk.- Zoltan Bagdy

Buy Ivan Fischer CD's on AHF's Amazon Store! Buy this and more Ivan Fischer CD's on AHF Amazon Store!

4/30/2007 - Ivan Fischer to serve as National Symphony Orchestra Conductor for two years: Declines offer of Music Director position... The Washington Post reported on April 13 that Ivan Fischer will serve as the Washington National Symphony’s principal conductor for two years, at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. Fischer declined the NSO’s offer to serve as its music director. Tim Page, the Post’s music critic, explains that the difference between the two positions is that the “….music director sets the creative philosophy for the ensemble, oversees artistic operations, and has the right to initiate the re-seating, or even the replacement, of the musicians…” while the principal conductor has authority only over the concerts that he or she conducts. Fischer will spend 8 weeks in Washington in 2008 and 7 weeks in 2009, in contrast to Leonard Slatkin’s (current music director) schedule of 21 weeks per season. Page reports that the NSO and Fischer “…had serious and substantial talks…about the position of music director,” however, the talks broke down over Fischer’s determination to continue his work as the founder and director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Page adds that Fischer lives in Budapest with his wife and small children, and apparently prefers to maintain his current arrangement, for both artistic and family reasons. The NSO music director position pays over $1 million for 16-20 weeks of work annually.

Page says that Fischer had been the favorite to succeed Slatkin for some months, and quotes one of the orchestra members, “What I really think has happened here is that the NSO put all of its eggs in one basket and just assumed Fischer would take the job…” The orchestra is now looking for another candidate for the music director position; the list of possible candidates apparently includes Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur and Christoph von Dohnanyi.

Hungarian-Americans in the Washington area have been looking forward to Maestro Fischer’s assumption of the NSO’s music director position and are disappointed in the decision. However, they are pleased to know that Fischer will be an artistic presence in the city’s musical life for two years. - Zoltan Bagdy, Chair AHF Cultural Affairs Committee

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Nov 30 - Dec 2, 2006
Ivan Fischer Debuts with the Washington National Symphony

Iván Fischer, the Washington National Symphony Orchestra's new Principal Guest Conductor, has achieved international renown as the founder and director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. His debut concert is scheduled for November 30 th at the Kennedy Center. Fischer will conduct Brahms, Dvorak, Sibelius, and Henderson, as well as Kodaly's Dances of Galanta. The program will be repeated on December 1 and 2. At the conclusion of the December 1 concert, Friday night, the orchestra will host an "After Words" program, during which the conductor will meet with members of the audience and answer questions, for approximately 30 minutes. Some Washington area members of AHF plan to attend this event and intend to welcome the Maestro to Washington on behalf of local Hungarians.

HENDERSON - Einstein's Violin
SIBELIUS - "Valse Triste" from Kuolema, Op. 44
DVORÁK - Slavonic Dance in C major, Op. 72, No. 7
STRAUSS - Second Waltz Sequence from Der Rosenkavalier
KODALY - Dances of Galánta
BRAHMS - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

For more information or to purchase tickets to events, visit the [Kennedy Center]

Feb 8 - 10, 2007

In related news, Iván Fischer, conducts the National Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn's Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of Shakespeare in Washington, as well as the composer's First Symphony.

MENDELSSOHN - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11
MENDELSSOHN - Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61

[read more]

Zoltan Bagdy, Chairman, AHF Cultural Committee

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To announce a Hungarian cultural event, please contact the AHF Cultural Affairs Committee, Zoltan Bagdy, Chair


The American Hungarian Federation (AHF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio. The largest Hungarian-American umbrella organization in the United States, AHF is also among the oldest ethnic organizations in the country. AHF was established as an association of Hungarian societies, institutions and churches to "defend the interest of Americans of Hungarian origin in the United States." Read more [about us] or

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