BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA
orchestra was formed in 1983 by Iván Fischer and Zoltán Kocsis, with musicians "drawn
from the cream of Hungary's younger players," as TheTimes
of London put it. Their aim, through intensive rehearsals
and demanding the highest standards from musicians, was to
make the orchestra's initially three or four concerts per
year significant events in Hungary's musical life, and to
give Budapest a new symphony orchestra of international standing.
1992 and 2000, extending their work to a full season the ensemble
operated under the aegis of the Budapest Municipality and
the new BFO Foundation, formed by fifteen Hungarian and multinational
corporations and banks. From the 2000/2001 season onwards
the orchestra is operated by the BFO Foundation, which the Budapest City Council regularly supports under a contract
renewable every five years. In 2003 the Ministry of Education and Culture declared the orchestra a national institution
supported by the state.
Festival Orchestra is nowadays not only a vital part of Budapest's
music life (usually performing to capacity audiences) but
also a frequent and much appreciated guest at the world's
most important centres of musical excellence: Salzburg (Summer Festival), Vienna (Musikverein, Konzerthaus), Lucerne (Festival), Montreux, Zürich (Tonhalle), New York (Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall), Chicago, Los Angeles (Hollywood Bowl), San
Francisco, Montreal, Tokyo (Suntory Hall), Hong-Kong, Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées), Berlin, Munich , Frankfurt (Alte Oper), London (BBC Proms Festival, Barbican Centre, Royal
Festival Hall), Florence (Maggio Musicale), Rome (Accademia
di Santa Cecilia), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Madrid, Athens, Copenhagen, Prague (Prague Spring
Festival), Brussels (Flamish Festival) and Buenos
Aires (Teatro Colon), among others.
having recorded on Hungaroton, Quintana, Teldec, Decca, Ponty
and Berlin Classics, the orchestra signed an exclusive
recording contract with Philips Classics in 1996.
Its recording of Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin received
the Gramophone Award, while Diapason and Le Monde de la Musique
chose it as their recording of the year. Recordings of Liszt's
Faust Symphony and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra
were chosen among the year's five best orchestral discs by
Gramophone. In 2003 the BFO signed a cooperation agreement
with the label Channel Classics. Their recording of Mahler's Symphony No.6. has been nominated for the Grammy Award, their Mahler 2. has received the Gramophone Award. International critics voted the orchestra in December 2008 among the ten best symphony orchestras of the world.
outstanding figures from the international music scene have performed with the orchestra: Sir Georg Solti (who was the orchestra's honorary guest conductor until his
death), Yehudi Menuhin, Kurt Sanderling, Gennady Rozhdestvensky,
Charles Dutoit, Gidon Kremer, Sándor Végh, András
Schiff, Heinz Holliger, Agnes Baltsa, Ida Haendel, Martha
Argerich, Hildegard Behrens, Yuri Bashmet, Rudolf Barshai,
Kiri te Kanawa, Radu Lupu, Thomas Zehetmair, Vadim Repin,
Helen Donath, Maria-Joao Pires, Richard Goode and others.
the orchestra's more important projects, its opera productions have been widely acclaimed: The Magic Flute,
Cosi fan tutte, La Nozze di Figaro, Idomeneo, Orfeo
ed Euridice, Un Turco in Italia,
the cycle of works marking the 50th anniversary of Bartók's
death, the cycle
of Mahler symphonies over several years,
the series of performances for the centenary of Brahms'
death, a Bartók-Stravinsky cycle and a Liszt-Wagner cycle in January
2004. In 2005 the orchestra launched its annual Budapest Mahlerfest, in 2008 its annual "marathon" featuring each year a different composer.
ensemble places great emphasis on the performance of new
music and has given many world and Hungarian premieres. The orchestra
regularly commissions new works. In 2006 the orchestra was awarded - as first foreign ensemble - with the Dutch Music Prize.
promote the artistic development of its members the BFO has
developed regular chamber music and chamber orchestra
series alongside its major orchestral concerts. The Sunday
afternoon chamber music events, the "Cocoa Concerts" for young children, the "Haydn-Mozart plus" series, where
soloists of the concertos are members of the orchestra, as well as their annual open-air summer concerts have
all quickly become favourites of the Budapest music audience.
since its foundation 28 years ago, the BFO's Music Director
has been Iván Fischer.