Hungarian Orchestras and Eötvös Foundation/ Magyar zenekarok és az Eötvös Alapítvány

Liszt: From the Cradle to the Grave
Gregory Vajda: Gloomy Sunday Variations
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.2 in A (Peter Kiss, piano)
Mendelssohn: Symphony No.5 “Reformation”

the program above is on tomorrow for my debut performance with the Kodály Philharmony (Debrecen, Hungary). This concert marks another milestone in the series of concerts in the last couple of years in which I finally had the chance to work with all the major local orchestras in Hungary. I am privileged to work with the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra a couple of times a year for multiple seasons now (they are based in Pécs, Hungary), but as of 2019 I have had the pleasure to work with the Györ Philharmonic orchestra (last summer for the European Clarinet Conference), the Miskolc Symphony (just last month with two concerts and a beautifully challenging program of music by Brahms and Stravinsky), and the Szeged Symphony (Schumann and Mahler, but I also conducted them in Mozart’s The Magic Flute as my London debut). I have worked with the Savaria Symphony as well, a group I have known for a while from the Bartok Festival and Seminar, and to which I will be returning next season for a subscription concert.

The month of April was busy with the last Casual Classics of the season in Huntsville (Alabama Storytellers II), a conducting an composition masterclass at the Budapest Music Center, where I was teaching alongside with the world famous composer Kaija Saariaho, Peter Eötvös and the former General Music Director of the Budapest Opera, Peter Halász. The Peter Eötvös Foundation has also made my role with them official and named me Program Director. In a week I am looking forward to returning to Huntsville to conduct the 6th Classical Concert of the 18-19 season with the wonderful Susanna Phillips as soloist.

A fenti linken olvasható az idei szezon utolsó nagy klasszikus programja, amelyet a a Huntsville Symphony élén vezényelek. A Metropolitan Opera sztárja, Susanna Phillips énekel majd Strauss Négy utolsó énekében, és a W.B. Yeats versére írott zenekari dalomban.
Áprilisban Kaija Saariaho, Eötvös Péter és Halázs Péter professzortársaként taníthattam a Budapest Music Centerben, és a mesterkurzus zárókoncertjének apropóján az alábbi interjút adtam a Papagenónak, amelyben a Programigazgatóvá való kinevezésemről, és az Alapítvány terveiről is szó esik.

Holnap (április 23) a debreceni Kölcsey Központban debütálok a Kodály Filharmónia élén az alábbi műsorral.

Liszt: A bölcsőtől a sírig
Vajda Gergely: Szomorú vasárnap variációk
Liszt: Piano II. zongoraverseny (Kiss Péter -zongora)
Mendelssohn: V. szimfónia, “Reformáció”

A koncert egy újabb fontos állomása annak a szerencsésen alakult sorozatnak, amelynek részeként az elmúlt pár évben karmesterként bemutatkozhattam az összes nagyobb magyar zenekar élén, bizonyítandó, hogy Budapesten kívül is van komolyzenei élet, de még milyen! Időben visszafelé haladva: Kodály Filharmónia (Debrecen), Miskolci Szimfonikusok, Győri Filharmonikus Zenekar, Szegedi Szimfonikusok. A szombathelyi Savaria Szimfonikusokat és a pécsi Pannon Filharmonikusokat már többször dirigálhattam, és idén is, valamint a 2019-20-as szezonban is visszatérek hozzájuk vendégkarmesterként.

March 15 in Budapest/ Március 15 Budapesten

I am writing this post on March 15, Independence Day of Hungary, in Budapest. This long, festive weekend marks the first three consecutive days off for over a month. I have been working and traveling a lot, and it won’t change much until the end of the season. Since my last post I have conducted the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy (including the World Premiere of my newest orchestral composition, Gloomy Sunday Variations), the Huntsville Symphony in two different programs, and taught a masterclass at the Budapest Music Center with Heinz Holliger and Peter Eötvös. I am getting ready to conduct the magnificent Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at MUPA (Palace of the Arts) on March 20,
then Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 (Jozsef Balog as soloist) and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the Miskolc Symphony on two occasions.
March 15, a beautiful Spring day, National Holiday in Hungary. My musical journey continues on Monday.

Március 15, Nemzeti Ünnepünk, gyönyörű tavaszi nap Budapesten. A mostani hosszú hétvége az első összefügő három nap, amikor egy kicsit megpihenhetek, és erőt gyűjthetek a következő nagy kihívásra. Március 20-án vezényelem Mahler III. szimfóniáját a Magyar Rádió Zenei Együttesei élén a MÜPÁban.
Februári blogbejegyzésem óta két különböző programban vezényeltem a Huntsville Symphony-t, a Zeneakadémián a Rádiózenekarral bemutattam Szomorú Vasárnap című zenekari művemet, mesterkurzust tanítottam a BMC-ben Heinz Holligerrel és Eötvös Péterrel. A Pannon Filharmonikusokkal folytattuk az angol nyelvű “Classical Chill” koncertek sorozatát. Mahler Harmadikja után a Miskolci Szimfonikusokkal lesz két hangversenyem Brahms I. Zongoraversenyével (Balog József) és Sztravinszkij Tavaszi Áldozatával a programban.
A zenei utazás hétfőn folytatódik.

Action Packed Three Weeks

And more to come.
Huntsville Symphony has had a successful opening classical week with Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition and Orff’s Carmina Burana. It was just the perfect way to start the season and to create lots of positive buzz. My first weekend of the 2017-18 season at Huntsville also included an extensive day of auditions for several positions, including Concert Master and Principal Cello. We have hired some talented players and will be inviting candidates to fill the principal spots starting January.
The week after I have traveled to New Brunswick, NJ and conducted the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra. The program was the following: Ravel: La Valse, Haydn: Cello Concerto in C, Stravinsky: Petrushka. It was a great week with the young players and with this fun program. Also the first time ever I have stayed at an actual university campus. It was good to reunite and to spend some time with my friend, Al Baer, principal tuba player of the New York Phil and the head of the brass department at Rutgers. Last Friday I have conducted the second classical show of the season in Huntsville. Both our soloist, Claire Huangci and the orchestra did a great job in an especially difficult program. Ravel: Rapsodie Espagnol,Piano Concerto in G, Respighi: Fountains of Rome, and Debussy: La Mer. Just two days later, on Sunday we presented our first Casual Classics performance with Schubert’s genius Octet for which I have picked up my clarinet again. It was our usual, annual dinner/concert setting with the musicians telling funny stories about themselves. Oh yes, and the performance took place at the Yellowhammer Brewery’s Speakeasy, a perfect venue for this serenade-like composition.
I am writing this post at the KLM Lounge at the Amsterdam Airport. When I am done, I am going to continue watching YouTube videos of 77 young conductors who have applied to the multi year mentor program of the International Eotvos Contemporary Music Foundation. This week Peter Eotvos and I will be selecting the ones who will travel to Budapest in December to participate in a live audition along with 30 some young composers.
On Tuesday I am starting the rehearsals with the Hungarian Radio Symphony for our November 14 concert. For the program click the link below!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Les feux d’artifice

“The fireworks have ended. They did not last long.”
These are the last words of Rufus Wainwright’s opera “Prima Donna”. The premiere is this afternoon at the Kodály Center in Pecs (Southern Hungary), second performance on June 28 in Budapest with a live HD broadcast on Arte Concert. Check out the cast here:
Watch out for the broadcast details on FaceBook and on Twitter! Until then here is a concert video from Paris with the fully orchestrated version of the song.

I have spent a lot of time this past month with wonderful “prima donnas” and talented singers in productions of the following operas:
Kamillo Lendvay: The respectable Prostitute
Gyorgy Ligeti: Le grand macabre
Mate Bella: Spring Awakening
Gabor Peter Mezei: By the Catafalque
Arpad Solti: La Violetta

After “MagyarFeszt” (a festival of Hungarian operas organized by the State Opera), I was invited to teach a conducting master class with Peter Eötvös at his Contemporary Music Institute. It was a great week with the Danubia Orchestra and the music of Wolfgang Rihm and Zoltan Kodály. Next week, with the June 28 performance of “Prima Donna” opens the 10th Armel Opera Festival and Competition. I will also conduct the final gala concert of the Armel Festival with award winning singers from France and Hungary. It’s going to be a nice change of pace with music by Mozart, Donizetti, Bizet, Gounod and others.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

From Frankfurt to the Red Comet

Last week I made my debut with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. It was an amazing experience with a great orchestra made of open minded and friendly musicians. The audience at the “Sendesaal” of the Frankfurt Radio was very appreciative and enthusiastic. There was a fun pre-concert talk as well attended by about 200 people. On the program entitled ‘The Hungary of Eötvös’, there were all Hungarian contemporary pieces from four generations of composers including myself.’Concertino’ by József Sári, ‘Passacaglie’ by László Tihanyi, ‘Leviation’ by Péter Eötvös and my ‘Drums Drums Drums’ for three percussion players and orchestra.
I was really happy about the reception of my percussion triple concerto. There was a ‘rock-concert feel’ to the performance and also to the reaction of the audience, just what I was hoping to achieve. I am looking forward to the next performance of this composition of mine in January 2018 with the Pannon Philharmonic!

The first radio broadcast of the Frankfurt concert will be on May 15 followed by a re-broadcast not long after. I will keep you posted.

I am back in Hungary now gearing up for many performances to come. The next two long months have kicked off with a project of the International Young Soloists (musicians from the UK and Hungary) with a program of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to be played at two small venues this week. In the meantime I have started working with the singers for Ligeti’s ‘Le Grand Macabre'(performance at the Erkel Theater on May 26: hence the RED COMET, if you remember the famous coloratura soprano aria!), and had my first read-though rehearsal with the Modern Art Orchestra. The latter one is Hungary’s leading Big Band. On May 28 at the Budapest Music Center I will be conducting a few arrangements of my music (Adagio from the Clarinet Symphony among them), and some great music by Duke Ellington and Pat Metheny among others.

I will post more later about the upcoming opera productions in the frame of the “Hungarian Opera Festival” in the month of May and June. Stay tuned for a revival of the “Hungarian Late Night” show and two performances of “Spring Awakening” by Máté Bella and “La Violetta” by Árpád Solti at the Liszt Academy!

Hotel Room With Seven Doors

“Which hotel room has seven doors and enough place for a torture chamber, an armory and a treasure chamber?” – asks critic Peter Jungblut of in his review about the Eötvös/ Bartók double bill of Staatsoper Hamburg. Stage director Dimitri Tcherniakov merged “Senza sangue” and “Bluebeard’s Castle” into a 2 hour long evening with no intermission, and made the two operas into one “Dramatic Soul-Exploration”. After participating in the long rehearsal process of the production (we had our very first rehearsal on September 26) and attending the premiere with composer Peter Eötvös himself in the pit, I am now looking forward to conducting my first of this impressive show. Great singers, powerful music, touching video shorts, captivating images with mesmerizing lighting: this is all Senza sangue-Bluebeard’s Castle, and more. Come and experience it live if you can this month in Hamburg!
I will be the conductor of two more performances after today’s show: one on November 23 and the last one of this run on November 30. In between two shows, on November 22, I will be conducting a concert with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. The program is comprised of a World Premiere orchestral song for soprano I composed in memory of my Father and compositions by Haydn and Richard Strauss.
More about this concert soon!

Mozart in the Looney Bin

I am about to take another brief break from Eötvös and Bartók, and take a short trip to London to conduct Mozart’s Magic Flute with the staging of Róbert Alföldi
as part of the Armel Opera Festival Days at the Hackney Empire Theater.
This is going to be my London debut.
The director has placed Mozart’s magical opera-characters between the walls of a mental institution, where everybody has his or her own mental issue. Magically (pun intended) this idea works really well and highlights some of the more interesting twists and turns of the original story. Just think about it for a second: who is the bad guy here? Is it really the Queen of the Night or is it Sarastro? Is everything black and white like we would like it to be?

Check out the full Armel program at the Hackney Empire here including the ‘In Memory of 1956’ concert program on October 23 conducted by Adam Fischer

More Power to the Horns!

In the last few weeks I have been working on Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue, an opera double-bill at the Hamburg Opera in Germany. It is going to be a beautiful staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov, see a NY Times review about his work here
with four powerhouse singers in the principal roles, and the orchestra of Staatsoper Hamburg. The performances will all be in November.
I am not sure if the expression of “taking a break from sg” can be applied to my schedule. Conducting Mahler 5 does not sound like a break at all, and it sure is a great challenge for orchestra and conductor alike. Well, I am “taking a break from” opera this week and conducting a program of Mahler’s amazing symphony along with Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture and DiLorenzo’s Phoenix Concerto with the Huntsville Symphony.
The latter composition was written for the amazing French Horn player William Vermeulen, whom I had the pleasure to work with on a few occasions.
His playing and our extended horn section for Mahler 5 will sure make this week a powerful one!

I am excited and proud that our Huntsville Symphony can present such divers and exciting program to all the music lovers in the area. At the end of September for our first Casual Classics program called “Yoga with Live Music” we played compositions by Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and John Cage at Lowe Mill. This week we are back with great symphonic repertoire at the Von Braun Center. Come and join us!

In Nature’s Realm

I am back in Huntsville. The weather is beautiful as always in September. As my friends in Europe are starting to wear their rain coats and sweaters, I still get to dip in the swimming pool in the morning. I love how summer is stretched out here in the South.

Our 2016-17 Season at the HSO is starting with a kind of musical meditation on Nature and on Human Life.

Dvořák: In Nature’s Realm, op. 91
Smetana: The Moldau, from My Homeland
Fauré: Requiem, op. 48

Guest Artists:
Tiffany Boltic-Brown, Terrance Brown and the Huntsville Community Chorus

Visit our website for more information on our opening gala and on the rest of the season.

Talking about “meditation”, very soon musicians of the Huntsville Symphony and myself will be presenting a Yoga Session with Live Music at one of my favorite venues ever: Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
More about this concert soon!

Last week was busy (indeed, the Season does not start with the first fall performance but with all the preparation the precedes this part of the year). After finishing the editing of the studio recording of my composition “Clarinet Symphony” (it sounds great and I am hoping to report soon about what happens to the recording itself) I traveled to Szeged (Southern-Hungary) where I did a few pre-rehearsals for Armel Festival’s presentation of The Magic Flute at the Hackney Empire Theater in London, England. I am also preparing for the long rehearsal period at the Hamburg Opera starting at the end of September. I will be adding another opera to my repertoire: Peter Eötvös’ Senza sangue (Without Blood)
This new work will be staged alongside with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (an amazing piece of music soon to be a 100 years old!).

Nature, music, lot of travel: Season 16-17 here I come!

Two World Première Opera Recordings

Just five days to September.

Are you ready for another season of great music?

Here are two World Première opera recordings for your listening pleasure to start with!

Péter Eötvös: Paradise Reloaded (Lilith)

In this new composition, Péter Eötvös explores the hypothetical question: what would have happened if our culture which is explicitly based on the Bible had chosen Lilith (Adam’s first wife) to be the ancestress of mankind, instead of Eve? Adam and Eve (his second wife) and the listeners alike are guided by Lucifer through past, present and future. In Paradise Reloaded, Lilith’s intentions define the course of events; she eventually attains her goal but at the end of the story Adam still does not choose her as his partner. Adam has to choose between two women who have different outlooks on life. His choice determines the fate of the generations to come. The conclusion promises a new beginning for all characters – hence the Reloaded in the title – in a new Paradise, but this will no longer be the same as the one they left.
The opera was premièred in October 2013 in Vienna, followed by its February 2014 Hungarian première in Budapest. The cast of soloist on the CD is the same as of the première in Vienna. I conducted both the recording session (Studio 22 at the Hungarian Radio) and the Hungarian live performance (Palace of the Arts Budapest) both with the Hungarian Radio Symphony. The sound quality of this recording is just amazing. The sound level is like that of a pop music recording with clear details and amazing energy. The recording is available via the website of the Budapest Music Center (see link above) and through record distributors all over the world (see list on BMC website).

Ernst von Dohnányi: The Tenor

What happens when a singing circle (well, really a good old, German style Barber Shop Quartet) operating according to classical middle-class values is forced to accept a talented but depraved and penniless musician? Primeval, genuine emotions break through bars of false convention. Or do they? This is the theme of The Tenor, the most celebrated Hungarian comic opera of the 1930s. This delightful, cleverly written opera is full of humor and great musical ideas. Mendelssohn and Webern quotes are incorporated into the chamber orchestra-like texture of the composition. The vocal parts are beautiful and inventive and all roles are great fun to play. I was the conductor of the Hungarian premiere of “The Tenor” (the first one since the late 1920s!) and of the studio recording of the work with the cast of the stage production and the musicians of the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra.

Read about the Opera Trezor recording series of the Hungarian State Opera here

If you are interested in this two CD-publication you can purchase it at the Budapest Opera House’s Gift Shop (Opera Shop), or you may contact me directly. I will make sure you get a copy!