Why one should really love Budapest


A few days ago a leading Hungarian portal published a blog post with videos in which several young adults from outside Hungary show and tell their audiences why they love Budapest. The videos are excellent as they are but are completely one-sided for such a collection: they fail to bring in the view-points of any older or younger generations than those in their twenties (reminds me and my Hungarian generation of the well-known, though very old song by Poór Péter, “Nem csak a húszéveseké a világ …”) and they fail to mention one of the most important reasons why absolutely anybody should really love Budapest: the choice of music.11834406_37e3a132591d59a167663c43f933034b_wmEven though the city is capable of providing such weather at any time, like right now, it has been one outstanding place for music lovers since back in the 19th century but what it offers in the last decades is almost as unique as the music and entertainment in Paris back then or post-WWI Berlin. I’ve enjoyed various genres available in Budapest for decades now and I’m still amazed by the possibilities emerging all the time. And classical music is only one aspect to it so let me introduce two recent discoveries of mine that you may love.

If one has enough of the declining quality of the Budapest Opera (despite the really outstanding performances of Hungarian opera singers – around the world) or of the well-established classic repertoire, the Armel Festival, beginning at the end of June, could be a welcome change with its modern offer and various foreign companies taking to the stage. The prices vary between about €20 and 30 so that can’t be an obstacle. The festival is also staging a competition at the same time and from their archives, it seems the project is an international one with a past and a future in various other cities around Europe. It’s a real pity most pages of their web-site are still under construction.

An even more interesting discovery could be a venue on the Buda side, the so-called “Kobuci kert“. A beautiful, though not very big garden in the heart of the city, just a couple of streets away from Margaret island seems to have become a major focus point of world-music genres, which include Gypsy music from various countries, special Balkan feelings, outstanding jazz music, folk music and dancing events (the famous “Táncház”). The list of performers includes, among others, Dresch Mihály on May 30 (hurry up to get tickets, folks!), Snétberger Ferenc on 31st (ditto!), Ferenci Gyögy on June 8 and Taraf de Haiduks on June 29. There’s even a community do for watching the UEFA Championships Final on 28th May. And the prices? The Madrid match is free, otherwise even an average Hungarian (whatever that means) can fork out 800 Ft (€2.5) on-line or 1200 Ft (less than €4) at the venue for such world-class musicians as above. A real competitor to the well-established Fonó in South-Buda, which you may already be familiar with, but which is also worth every penny for its programmes. Here is one of my videos I made at a Dresch concert in Szentendre back in 2008, where he played a less than usual instrument:

or another one with something more main-stream (where he played with Namyslowski in Budapest):

If you like these or would like to see more of him, you can go on to more of my recordings on youtube, or simply visit this coming new concert in six day’s time.

I wish you very pleasant summer experiences in Budapest. If you have enjoyed any of the concerts mentioned, please don’t hesitate to come back here to report.

by P.S.

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