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From talking cats to electroacoustica – 10+1 great things to enjoy at Liszt Fest

A vivacious arts extravaganza begins in Budapest on 8 October, when the first Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival kicks off, offering exciting attractions until 24 October. Real musical treats, premieres, classical and contemporary concerts, opera and dance performances, jazz, world music and pop shows, as well as literary and fine arts events, highlight the agenda. Along with Budapest's most prestigious classical venues, you can become familiar with some of the city's more obscure locations such as Svábhegy Observatory and the Párisi Nagy Áruház from a whole different perspective. Here we select 10+1 great events, from electroacoustica to contemporary art, and from theatre productions to jazz shows.

This year, Hungary is celebrating the 210th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, one of the most influential figures in musical history. It is no coincidence that several nations would like to claim this exceptionally talented individual, the rock star of his day, for their own. However, Liszt consistently referred to himself as a Hungarian artist, allowing everyone here to celebrate Liszt’s distinguished anniversary in fine style with diverse range of events. The aim of the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival is not only to introduce the composer’s unique oeuvre to the public every year, but also to create events that showcase the artist's experimental and innovative spirit, still an inspiration to contemporary artists in many genres.


Bringing musical legends to life – Liszt Fest opening concert

The year 1862 was a decisive one for Liszt, as he visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome, which brought musical legends to life in his imagination. The figures of Allegri and Mozart appeared before his eyes, and he thought he could hear their works, Miserere and Ave Verum Corpus. This experience inspired Évocation à la Chapelle Sixtine, where he brought the work of Allegri and Mozart closer together, and focused on the triumph of love over evil. Not only Liszt's work, but also pieces by Allegri and Mozart will be performed at the opening ceremony, the concert to be closed by the Hungarian Coronation Mass, written by Liszt on the occasion of the coronation of Franz Joseph as King of Hungary with his wife, Elisabeth.

Where: Matthias Church
When: 8 October, 8pm
More information here


Satan, a talking cat and other oddities – opera-musical The Master and Margarita

In Moscow, Satan appears in the company of a talking cat and other strange figures. Mysterious accidents and disappearances occur as witches fly in the air and a journey into Biblical times stir things up in the Russian capital. Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita is undoubtedly one of the most influential novels in literature, here brought to life by Levente Gyöngyösi in a special form, the opera-musical, involving the artists of the Hungarian National Ballet and the Hungarian Air Gymnastics Association. The play is directed by Szente Vajk, at home in musical theatre as both an actor and director.

Where: Eiffel Art Studios, Miklós Bánffy Stage
When: 9 October, 7pm
More information here


Liszt inspired jazz – Concert by the Jazzical Trio

The old masters provide an inexhaustible source of inspiration, not only for contemporary artists, but also for contemporary musicians, especially when it comes to the rock star of classical music, Franz Liszt. Internationally acclaimed Hungarian pianist Norbert Káel speaks both classical music and jazz fluently, and is particularly inspired by the works of Liszt. This concert by the Jazzical Trio features Liszt’s characteristic harmonies and melodies, and includes emblematic works such as Csárdás obstiné, Consolation in D flat major and Un sospiro.

Where: Liszt Academy – Solti Hall
When: 12 October, 8pm
More information here


Inspired interpreters of Liszt’s songs – Thomas Hampson & the Orchester Wiener Akademie

The Orchester Wiener Akademie’s concert promises to be a real curiosity. The ensemble was founded in 1985 by Martin Haselböck. They play not only well-known masterpieces, but also rarities and hidden treasures. This full-scale orchestra will now be joined by world-renowned singer Thomas Hampson, who is considered one of the most inspired interpreters of Liszt’s songs. You will be able to hear such special rarities as one of the last works of the ageing Liszt, the orchestral orchestration of his early song, Die Vätergruft.

Where: Müpa – Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
When: 12 October, 7.30pm
More information here


Chilly for the Season – Literary evening with Anita Harag

Almost overnight, Anita Harag became one of the defining young voices in Hungarian contemporary literature. Her book, Chilly for the Season, published by Magvető Kiadó, won over readers and critics in one fell swoop with its original linguistic invention, savvy story-weaving and showpiece confidence. It is no exaggeration to say that hers has been the most spectacular, most successful beginning to a career –  her debut volume of short stories was duly acknowledged with numerous literary awards. An excellent writer and an engaging personality, it should be a real experience to see her in person.

Where: Müpa – Glass Hall
When: 13 October, 8pm
More information here


Night show at Müpa – Electroacoustica 2020

If you’ve never heard of electroacoustica but you’re open to something new, you’re certainly in the right place at this brilliant concert adventure, where you can discover the prize-winning electroacoustic compositions awarded at the Müpa Music Competition. The works performed at this night concert paint a fascinating picture of the wide range of technological and aesthetic approaches this genre offers. The audience can look forward to musical material created from natural sounds, improvisation or the musical transformation of graphic surfaces, as well as work that give the illusion of space by moving masses of sound.

Where: Müpa – Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
When: 14 October, 7.30pm
More information here


The voices of our generation – Дeva/Saya Noé/I Am Soyuz

Three special and talented performers, three separate worlds, yet the voices of one generation will be heard at the Akvárium Klub. This presentation by Дeva (Dorina Takács), Saya Noé (Mimi Kőrös) and Sweden-based performer-songwriter I Am Soyuz (Lili Felícia Bozóy) promises to be overpowering. What the three young performers have in common is that they execute each phase of the song-writing process themselves, from coming up with the music and lyrics to arranging and recording. The whole emotional spectrum, the honesty and philosophical nature of these songs based on personal experience, strike the listener directly with their elemental power. Дeva evokes the atmosphere of ancient lands with her songs, Saya Noah explores the possibilities of her orchestral vocals during the months of forced silence, and the latest album by I Am Soyuz combines the adventurous journeys of recent years with sincere confessions of love and human destiny.

Where: Akvárium Klub – Small Hall
When: 14 October, 8pm
More information here


Mono concert-opera – Esterházy & Fuharosok in the spotlight

My work is an opera just as Esterházy’s is a novel,” says Gergely Vajda about his piece composed for a mezzo-soprano and a chamber ensemble, based on Péter Esterházy’s short story, Fuharosok. Moving within a specific genre, this mono concert-opera builds a dramatic stage performance in a ballad-like tone, which is also characteristic of the opera by British composer George Benjamin, based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which will also be performed this evening. With Benjamin, the soprano and mezzo-soprano play roles that can be seen as a metaphor for death, captivating generations of children, while in Vajda’s opera, a single character in three forms sings the story created by Esterházy concerning the rape of a little girl.

Where: Müpa – Festival Theatre
When: 21 October, 7pm
More information here


Exhibition, concert, piano & song – Dante 700

A giant of poetry speaks to us, the men and women of today, from the perspective of 700 years, and asks us not only to read and study his works, but above all to listen to and join him on the path to happiness, which is the infinite and eternal love of God.With these words, Pope Francis remembered Dante in his Apostolic Letter. On the occasion of this notable anniversary, the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival has also prepared a number of exciting events. On 10 October, a billboard exhibition opens in the Atrium of the Liszt Academy, providing an insight into the connections between Liszt’s compositions and Dante. After a look at the exhibition, it’s worth popping in to catch Péter Kiss’ piano recital, where Dante's Divine Comedy, as well as the famous sonnets of his contemporary Francesco Petrarca and other related compositions, will be performed. On 16 October, Fülöp Ránki’s piano recital will transport the audience back to the world of Dante, while on 18 October, the Hungarian National Choir perform at the special location of the Párisi Nagy Áruház, paying homage to Dante’s legacy with choral works by domestic and foreign composers.

More information here


Liszt’s exceptional works – church organ concerts

Organ works occupy a prominent place in the Liszt oeuvre, so three church concerts at the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival also deal with this significant legacy, interpreted by domestic and foreign performers. On 9 October, several works by Liszt and Bach will be brought to life in the hands of Mónika Kecskés and László Deák at the Inner City Franciscan Church, while a concert by German organist and composer Martin Sturm takes place at St Teresa of Avila Parish Church on 10 October. Look out, too, for the organ recital by Balázs Szabó at the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy on 11 October.

More information here


Music, literature & film – Cultural cavalcade at the Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival

The Liszt Fest International Cultural Festival will not only bring together excellent individual events, but also arts series such as the Decade of the Contemporary Art Fair, which starts on 8 October, Art Market, and the PONT Festival of global culture, showcasing musical curiosities. Then, unique among the highlights of the Liszt Fest, the Cinemira International Children and Youth Film Festival, which starts on 10 October, is only event of its kind in Hungary specifically geared to teenagers. On 14 October, music videos take centre stage when the Fifth Hungarian Music Video Contest is held, allowing viewers to watch the most outstanding clips of the past year on a wide screen. Autumn in Budapest would not be autumn in Budapest without the Margó Literary Festival and Book Fair, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and gearing up with exciting events.

More information here


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