Photo: Szilvia Csibi / Müpa Budapest

03. 11. 2023.

Long-awaited Premieres, Unique Collaborations, Immense Interest and Wide Success: This Was the 3rd Liszt Fest

Held between 11 and 22 October, the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival featured international world stars and Hungarian artists at over a hundred events, and boasted two world premieres, two Hungarian premieres that made music history, and a dance production choreographed to contemporary compositions.

Held on the third occasion at a dozen venues, this year’s celebration of the arts presented concerts of classical, popular and world music, performances of jazz, productions of opera and dance, as well as book launches and panel discussions, exhibitions and a fair of contemporary visual art, and even a free family day. ‘The Hungarian premiere of György Kurtág’s only opera, in the preparations for which the composer himself took an active part, much to our delight, was not only a highlight of the festival but a red-letter day as well in the history of music,’ said Csaba Káel, CEO of Müpa Budapest. ‘Similarly significant was the Hungarian premiere of Sardanapalo, Liszt’s torso of an opera, a production that is to the undying credit of David Trippett, the British musicologist who reconstructed it, and the Staatskapelle Weimar, the international star soloists and the Women’s Choir of the National Choir, who performed it.’
This was a festival of multiple premieres: the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble’s production was based on the composition Benjamin Eredics first presented at the Bartók Spring, while János Feledi was inspired by the music of two contemporary composers, György Orbán and Roland Szentpáli. ‘Its relatively short history notwithstanding, the Liszt Fest proved again that it has a place in the national and international festival calendar,’ says Janina Szomolányi, Operative Director of the festival. ‘In several of the productions, foreign guests shared the stage with Hungarian artists. Gigi Radics’s collaboration with the Clayton–Hamilton Jazz Orchestra had been initiated by one of its leader, John Clayton himself, while the Boban Marković Orchestar brought down the house with Parno Graszt, Mónika Lakatos and the Romafest Gypsy Dance Theatre.’
The mini festivals of the Liszt Fest also proved very popular with visitors: at the PONT Festival, families were introduced to the cultural wonders of West Africa in the sun-drenched Museum Garden, those who wanted to have their new book autographed cued outside the National Dance Theatre during the four days of the Margó Literary Festival and Book Fair, Art Market Budapest, the international fair of contemporary art had thousands of visitors in the Bálna, and the artists of Isolation Budapest in the Akvárium Klub were having fun in the crowd at each other’s concerts.  

For the first time, the event was advertised with a six-part poster campaign, visitors could leaf through the festival’s magazine, and the popular behind-the-scenes videos of Festival Extra also returned to the online channels. As with the Bartók Spring, we produced a series of videos, the Festival News, to provide viewers with up-to-date coverage.