János Posztós / Müpa

01. 09. 2021.

First Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival to start on 8 October

Musical rarities, world and local premieres, legendary ensembles, young talents, great figures of Hungarian and international cultural life: the first Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival is held between 8 and 24 October. In addition to the classical music concerts, there will be opera and dance performances, a professional conference, organ concerts, evenings of contemporary music, treats in jazz, world and pop music, literary and visual art events, and unconventional open-air happenings throughout these seventeen days, on the stages of Budapest's most important institutions, as well as in numerous special venues, from the Esztergom Basilica through the Svábhegy Observatory to the Paris Department Store.

“Born 210 years ago, Ferenc Liszt is one of the brightest stars of international musical history, an artist of rare talent and influence who is claimed by several nations for themselves, but who consistently defined himself as a Hungarian creator. Many consider him the first ‘rock star’ of classical music, others believe his sacred works constitute the pinnacle of his output. What is certain is that the impressive quality and richness of genres and forms that characterize his oeuvre are a value that is an authoritative and seminal compass for us as well. We must take care not to present Liszt as an inaccessible, public statue, and bring him instead close to today's man,” says Csaba Káel, CEO of Müpa Budapest, which launches the event series. He emphasizes that while the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival salutes Liszt’s genius, and offers a taste of his matchless oeuvre every year, it is not the sole focus of the event series, which encompasses all the arts and attracts international audiences by representing the artist’s spirit in countless genres, stimulating thereby contemporary creativity as well. It is no secret that the Liszt Fest is meant to act as a catalyst for the creation of new productions, and gradually connect Budapest with the other cities of the country, to make Hungary an increasingly attractive destination for cultural travellers, thus participating in the promotion of cultural tourism.
“It is a great pleasure to see that the new festival of Budapest defines itself as the spiritual heir of Ferenc Liszt already in its name, and I am proud to be among the performers of the first Liszt Fest with my ensemble, the Orchester Wiener Akademie. As a resercher of Liszt and a performer of the composer's works for decades, I think this is an extraordinary heritage, with intellectual openness its most important trait,” says world-famous organist and conductor Martin Haselböck, who will appear at the festival with his orchestra and the excellent baritone, Thomas Hampson, on 12 October. “When I call Liszt open-minded I don’t simply mean he was receptive of the most diverse traditions; he also brought his experimental spirit and innovativeness to bear on the future. This was what made him the forerunner of so many great composers who followed him. His third important attribute is that he keeps surprising us. Even today. There is still a great deal to discover about him.” And the experience of discovery will indeed mark the entire programme of the first Liszt Fest.
Liszt’s Hungarian Coronation Mass can be heard at the opening concert of the event series, on 8 October, at the Matthias Church, while the Esztergom Mass will be performed at the Esztergom Basilica by the Hungarian Radio Choir and the Pannon Philharmonic, on 22 October, promising cathartic moments. Edit Klukon and Dezső Ránki present a special series of concerts; Liszt’s works for organ can be heard in churches of the City Centre courtesy of Martin Sturm, Mónika Kecskés and László Deák, among others; Barnabás Kelemen and Mihály Berecz will perform the composer’s distinctive chamber pieces; and works for the organ, improvised movements, folk music and religious folk songs will reflect on each other at László Fassang and Balázs Szokolay Dongó’s concert. The Cracow Singers will have several Liszt works on the programme of their Budapest performance, while Jazzical Trio offers another not-to-be-missed evening with a fusion of Liszt and jazz.
23 October, the day of the 1956 revolution will be celebrated at The Sound of Freedom concert with a work each by Bartók and Liszt, as well as the world premiere of Roland Szentpáli’s To the Hungarians, a winner of Müpa’s Composition Competition. Nor is this the only occasion when award-winning entries of the popular competition can be heard: on 14 October, the best electroacoustic works can be enjoyed at an unconventional concert-cum-adventure that brings the entire building of Müpa Budapest into play, while the award-winners of the small jazz formation category will be performed at the Budapest Music Center.
The legendary flamenco company, the Compañía Antonio Gades perform their iconic Carmen on 17–18 October at the Festival Theatre in Müpa Budapest, and the lovers of folk dance are in for a treat with the Danube Art Ensemble’s production, Beautiful Mezőség, presented on 24 October.
Levente Gyöngyösi’s The Master and Margarita, an opera-musical, promises to be a really special production that features the former students of the Hungarian Dance University, the Orchestra and Choir of the Hungarian State Opera, and acrobats of the Hungarian Acrobat Association. Opera lovers will be further indulged by Fuharosok (Transporters), a mono-concert-opera by Péter Esterházy and Gergely Vajda, and George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill, which will be performed on the same evening.
Those looking for special jazz, new world or pop music, will also be well served at the Liszt Fest: Grammy Award-winning Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil will be here, while András Keller’s Concerto Budapest joins forces with violin virtuoso Roby Lakatos and guitarist Ferenc Snétberger to create a compelling fusion of classical symphonic music and jazz. Akvárium Klub presents Дeva (Deva – Dorina Takács), Saya Noé (Mimi Kőrös) and I Am Soyuz, the project of Sweden-based singer-songwriter Felícia Lili Bozóky, and the 5th Hungarian Music Video Contest will also be an event of the Liszt Fest.
To make the programme even more diverse, the Liszt Fest opens its doors to the visual arts, literature and film: such much-loved event series are realized under the motto of the festival as the hugely popular Margó Literary Festival and Book Fair, the internationally acknowledged Art Market Budapest, the Cinemira International Children and Youth Film Festival, the Budapest Showcase Hub and the PONT Festival, which this year will move into unconventional urban spaces.