It has already been for a while that the opening of the Hungarian Academy of Music after a couple of years of inner re-building is known. The building, which was built on Liszt Ferenc tér in Budapest, is re- opening for the general public on 22nd October 2013, on the 138th anniversary of the establishment of the „Zeneakadémia”, or ZAK, as it is popularly abbreviated, and is aimed to become the centre of high quality classical music, jazz and folk music concerts as well as retaining its leading role at the pinnacle of music education in the country.
The event is very important not only for Budapest, or for Hungary, but for the wider region as well. East of Berlin, only the Vienna and Moscow conservatory has a comparable historical role in classical music. Almost all internationally famous classical musicians graced its concert hall, from Mahler, Toscanini, Mengelberg, Karajan through Casals, Menuhin, Emil Gilels, David Oistrach or Richter to Alfred Brendel or Anne-Sophie Mutter and other greats of the present day.
But probably even greater is the influence of the Academy, already renamed Liszt Ferenc Music University in 2000, as a teaching institution. From Liszt Ferenc, who established the Academy in 1875, a long list of excellent teachers taught generations of top quality musicians there. The list of the most prominent teachers included, among many others, Erkel Ferenc, Hans Koessler, Hubay Jenő, David Popper, Bartók Béla, Dohnányi Ernő, Zathureczky Ede, Kodály Zoltán, Weiner Leó, Thomán István, Kadosa Pál, Ligeti György, Banda Ede, or Marton Éva. These excellent teachers have brought up some of the best musicians and performers in the world, among others a host of leading conductors, like Solti György, Reiner Frigyes, Ormándy Jenő, Kertész István, or Fischer Iván, a long list of world-famous singers like Koréh Endre, Ernster Dezső, Sárdy János, Losonczy György, Polgár László, Gregor József, Marton Éva, Osváth Júlia, Pitti Katalin, Rost Andrea, Kincses Veronika, a huge number of world-class pianists like, besides the teachers themselves, Kocsis Zoltán, Ránki Dezső or Schiff András, and a long list of some of the best violinists, besides the aforementioned teachers, like Szigeti József, Vecsey Ferenc, Kovács Dénes, Gertler Endre, Pauk György, Kokas Katalin, or Kelemen Barnabás. Several great chellists, like Perényi Miklós, have studied and performed, or even taught here, and the institution can boast with bringing up some of the leading orchestra players of the world’s best orchestras as regards other instruments.
As all this above shows, opening the renewed building to teaching and concerts alike is of enormous importance in the music world. This is why I recommend to everybody interested in classical music or jazz to consider buying tickets to any performance here by today’s leading musicians during the concert season of 2013/2014. For locals, the prices are not exactly cheap, but for visiting foreigners they cost much less than half of what they are used to in West-Europe. So here is my translation (with the Hungarian names kept as the original) of what the official announcement of the institution deems worth considering.
“The colors of black and white ” series will be opened by Ránki Dezső, Klukon Edit and the young Ránki Fülöp on October 27th, with compositions by J. S. Bach, Couperin, Liszt and Dukay Barnabás, who is in close cooperation with the family. The Budapest Fesztiválzenekar, which continuously offers a range of concerts at the Academy of Music, brings a real world star, the Argentine Martha Argerich, to the Great Hall on 7th , 8th, 9th and 10th November. On 17 November, at the night called “Pianist generations”, outstanding performers of the Hungarian piano tradition going back to Liszt, like Vásáry Tamás, Dráfi Kálmán and Bogányi Gergely are performing. The next generation is represented by Gyöngyösi Ivett, Medgyesi Zsolt and Váradi László.
On the first evening of the Géza Anda Festival on 29th November, the 2012 winners of the Anda Géza Concours in Zurich perform. They are followed by winners of past competitions who have already run prestigious careers, Alexey Vologyin, Filippo Gamba and Várjon Dénes . The piano concert series is concluded with a concert of Bogányi Gergely on 13th December and a concert of Szokolay Balázs on 19th December 2013.
The first concert of playing music together is given by the Kelemen quartet on 3rd November. The quartet is closely linked to the Music Academy in several ways. On 25th November Frankl Péter and his friends, Keller András, Bársony Péter, Várdai István and Lakatos György come on stage. In the first half of the following year the procession of great names will continue: among the performers Jevgenyij Koroljov and the Keller quartet, the world famous Takács quartet, as well as Baráti Kristóf are to be expected. On the night of 7th April, Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis and Várjon Dénes are performing.
The small hall (“Kisterem”) returns to its original function with an orchestra pit, a rigging loft and stage technology. The first opera shown here is Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Almási-Tóth András as director and with the artistic leadership of Marton Éva. The libretto was translated by Varró Dániel, the conductor is the Turkish Ertüngealp Alpaslan, who graduated from the Academy, on 6th , 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 20th December. On December 18th, Judit Németh introduces herself first, first in, on January 12th 2014, Rost Andrea performs with Oláh Kálmán.
From the autumn of 2013 the Concerto Budapest works as the resident orchestra of the Academy. At their first concert on 1st November, the new Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra and Rost Andrea perform music by Bach, Richard Strauss and Mozart’. Isabelle Faust, the new violin star performs with the orchestra on 7th December. The program called Concertó will have a key role in education: the students will be able to acquire skills of playing in an orchestra sitting in a professional orchestra.
In the first concert of the series called Élesben, the Folk Music department shows their skills on 6th November, on November 9th, the 115-year-old Trumpet department has the stage, the best of the Jazz Department perform on 21st December, while the Big Band of the Jazz Department helps the audience relax before the last Christmas attack. Steve Reich, one of the outstanding authors of our time graces the concert given from his work with his personal presence on 12th November.
The university celebrates its 138 anniversary on November 14th, with performances by its students and teachers. The Zeneakadémia Symphonic Orchestra is conducted by Takács-Nagy Gábor, with the participation of Vigh Andrea, Gyöngyösi Ivett and Onczay Csaba.
The Academy of Music, which previously operated only as a host institution is going to house several orchestras and production, so the Budapest Fesztiválzenekar, the Liszt Frerenc Chamber Orchestra, the Óbudai Danubia Orchestra, the Budafoki von Dohnányi Orchestra, the MAV Symphony Orchestra and the Zuglói Filharmónia are going to perform some of their concerts here.
To the above, I’d like to add one personal criticism. As regards Brad Mehldau, I have read several accolades about this American jazz pianist, who has been touted as having an outstandingly virtuosic left hand, so obviously, I became curious. But when I listened to his concert recordings on YouTube, I was greatly dissatisfied. The quality of music he and his trio performed was nothing above usual, his playing was not especially virtuosic, I felt the performances characterized by a kind of lack of enthusiasm, a kind of lethargy. If he is invited to play at the Academy, he must be good and I may be wrong, but I wouldn’t attend his concert. I’d love to listen to Snétberger’s performance again instead.
A list of concerts in the Great Hall and Small Hall of the Academy of Music can be accessed here in Hungarian, complete with prices. Prices given in Hungarian Forints can be calculated with an exchange rate of 300 Ft to the Euro.