Bartók’s Birds

There is the famous bird trio for flute, oboe and clarinet in Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ symphony. There are the identifiable American birds in Bartók’s Piano Concerto No.3, and the sounds of rural Romania as composed by the young György Ligeti in his Concert Românesque. The 5th classical concert of the Huntsville Symphony fits the overall theme of the season: The Force of Nature.
David Kadouch
a young and amazing pianist from France is playing the solo piano part of the Bartók Concerto. Needless to say, I am very particular about my Bartók. David has everything a Hungarian maestro’s heart can wish for in a pianist for the Hungarian composer’s last piano concerto. He is not only a virtuoso player but he also knows all the idioms, the unique phrasing, and the sound that is required to perform this music.

Join me and the HSO this Saturday at the VBC to hear three powerful compositions about the power of nature. Experience the power of live symphony music as only we can present it here in the great City of Huntsville!

Fresh Coat of Copland

We are ready for our third Casual Classics concert this afternoon at University of Alabama Huntsville’s Roberts Hall.
Local artist, Pamela Willis is joining the musicians of the Huntsville Symphony to create a painting live, in front of the eyes of the audience in three stages “choreographed” to the music of Aaron Copland. The painting will be auctioned out to benefit the Huntsville Symphony.
On the all Copland program we’ll be presenting
Quiet City for English Horn, Trumpet and strings
Nonet for strings
Appalachian Spring (original version)

I am especially proud of us playing the rarely performed Nonet for strings, a late composition by Copland known mostly for his Americana music. Along with two late, and well-known orchestral pieces, Connotations and Inscape, the style of ‘Nonet’ is not at all like that of Appalachian Spring or Rodeo. This music is more ‘avant-garde’, more contemplative and at points more sinister than the all sunny Copland we all know and admire. Nonet for strings was commissioned by the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (same as in ‘Dumbarton Oaks Concerto’ by Stravinsky) and is dedicated to Nadia Boulanger “after forty years of friendship.”

Come and join us in an hour at Roberts Hall, and come back to the VBC next weekend to hear our Classical 5 concert with music by Ligeti, Bartok and Beethoven!

We Are Children

On October 7 the jury of the New Hungarian Music Forum, after a live radio-broadcast orchestra concert, has made its decision. As the conductor of both the chamber ensemble and the orchestra concerts, and a member of the final jury I had the chance to work with all 7 young composers during the heavy workload rehearsal week. For me it was demanding and due to my dual role somewhat schizophrenic, too. It is definitely not easy to put on a concert by doing everything you can to make young composers compositions sound the best and judge them at the same time. The musicians of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra along with our one soloist, Gabor Czaban Hungarian beat boxer did an amazing job.

Here are the results:

Chamber Ensemble Compostions:
1st Prize: MÁTÉ BALOGH – Melodiemusik
2nd Prize: ALESSIO ELIA – Disappearing Rainbows
3rd Prize: MARCELL DARGAY – Monument of the Immortal Immigrant
and (!)
LÁSZLÓ SÁNDOR – Divertimento – Giuoco dei suoni

Based on the Jury’s unanimous decision there was no first prize awarded in the orchestral round. The money was evenly distributed between the split prize winners.

Symphony Orchestra Compositions:
1st prize: –
2nd Prize: MÁTÉ BALOGH – Quintet and ANDREJ SLEZÁK – inSpiral
3rd Prize:GYULA BÁNKÖVI – Greenlight-garden Night

MÁTÉ BALOGH was the winner of special prizes by the International Eötvös Institute for Contemporary Music, Editio Musica Budapest and the Danubia Symphony Orchestra.
GYULA BÁNKÖVI won the special prize of the palace of Arts Budapest (MUPA)
MARCELL DARGAY and ANDREJ SLEZÁK received a 1.000.000 Hungarian Forints value press portfolio each from

More info in Hungarian here:

On October 9 & 11 at the Solti Hall of the Liszt Academy of Music I conducted the new version of ‘Spring Awakening’, a one act opera by Mate Bella. With the beautiful and very expressive staging of Andras Almasi Toth, and the great singing of young singers with the accompaniment of the UMZE Ensemble this opera was an instant success. The music is modern but definitely expressive and audience friendly in the best possible way.
Read details about the production:

On Saturday, October 17 amazing cimbalom player, Miklos Lukacs and Thrensemble will be performing a concert under my direction at the Budapest Music Center. On there program: compositions by Igor Stravinsky, Peter Eotvos and Kornel Fekete Kovacs. After the concert we’ll be staying at the concert hall to make the world premiere recording of Peter Eötvös’ piece called ‘da capo’ for cimbalom and ensemble for future release by the BMC label.

For further information on the concert in English click here:

‘We Are Children’ is the title and the theme of the 2015-16 season of the Obuda Danubia Symphony. I was invited to conduct the second subscription concert of their classical series called ‘GAME’ at the grand hall of the Liszt Academy on Tuesday, October 20. I had my third rehearsal with the orchestra this morning and I am already having a lot of fun.
About the program:

With Stravinsky, Ligeti, Dohnanyi and Milhaud to conduct I am most definitely GAME! 🙂 Music is PLAYING (both in English and in Hungarian you PLAY when you make music) in the most noble sense of the word. If you make or just enjoy art in any form you preserve something of your inner child. Being able to do just that is a true gift of life.

Season Opening, Gyorgy Ligeti and the Rapper

On Monday I am starting the rehearsals for two big projects with the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (MR Symphony). On September 21 the orchestra opens its 70th Anniversary Season at the Palace of the Arts in Budapest with the following program:
Liszt: Les Preludes
Chopin: Piano Concerto #2 [Gergely Boganyi -piano]
Dohnanyi: Symphonic Minutes
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5

This program is the exact replica of the very first public concert of the orchestra on October 7, 1943 conducted by Ernst von Dohnanyi himself. This concert kicks off our 70th season celebration with many exciting concerts and projects. More info here:

Two concerts are coming up the week after our season opening concert. We’ll be playing 8 brand new compositions in two concerts (chamber orchestra and full orchestra), one at Budapest Music Center (my first time conducting in this amazing new chamber music hall) on Sept 25, the other one a day later at the Palace of the Arts. After the concerts the final committee (including myself) will decide about the prize winner compositions. I got to tell you that it is going to be a difficult decision. The quality of the 8 pieces in the finals are very high and every one of them represent a very unique, personal voice. Just as a teaser: one piece is for “pianist” and orchestra, where the soloist only plays one chord at the end of the piece. Another composition employes a rapper alongside with the symphony orchestra.
This year’s New Hungarian Music Forum competition is dedicated to the great Gyorgy Ligeti. Check out the details here:

All concerts mentioned above can be heard live thanks to the Hungarian Radio. They are also available online live or after the performance for another two weeks at

International Bartok Festival Opening Concert

The last concert of the season for me is coming up at the International Bartok Festival in Szombathely, Hungary.
As a clarinet- and later as a conductor-student I have participated many times at the master courses of this signature new music festival. It was here about 20 years ago when I first met Peter Eotvos.
I also studied with Gyorgy Kurtag here and listened to lectures of Gyorgy Ligeti.
I was invited as a professor of the conducting master course in 2009 and this summer I am doing the opening concert of the festival with the Savaria Symphony Orchestra as a guest conductor. Live concert broadcast by the Hungarian Radio can be streamed here:

Bartok: Wooden Prince Suite
Ligeti: Mysteries of the Macabre (Bence Horvath -trumpet)
Eotvos: Cello Concerto Grosso (Miklos Perenyi -cello)
Kodaly: Hary Janos Suite

More information about the program of the festival is available here:

Opera-Symphony, Anti-Anti Opera and the missing link

Busy 6 weeks ahead in Budapest, Hungary. I am starting with the final classical subscription concert of the MR Symphony Orchestra (Hungarian Radio Symphony) at Palace of the Arts. The program includes two symphonies numbered 9, one by Shostakovich and one by Beethoven. Two very different “Number Nines” juxtaposed. Now that I am doing Beethoven’s Choral Symphony three times in three months (April: Huntsville, May: Budapest, June: Music in the Mountains, California) I rediscovered the operatic, theatrical side of the final movement of this titanic piece for myself. (BTW I always thought that the Funeral March of Eroica was “music for a play”, just like Egmont) The famous opening lines by the bass-baritone
“O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!”(“Oh friends, not these tones!”)
written in recitativo style set the tone for this very special Rescue Opera called “The Last Movement of Beethoven Nine”.

As part of a now decade old tradition the Palace of the Arts remembers the great composer Gyorgy Ligeti on (or around) his Birthday. He would be 90 years old this year. The time has come for Ligeti’s only opera, well his Anti-Anti-Opera as he called it to be performed as part of the Hommage To Ligeti series. I’ll be the conductor of the concert performance of the 1997 Salzburg Version of The Macabre at the helm of the Pannon Philharmonic in cooperation with
Neue Oper Wien
and Amadinda Percussion Group

Here is the summary of the story of this Anti-Anti-Opera
Link to the Palace of the Arts production

Now it seems that I could just move into the Palace of the Arts for the next couple of weeks. (BTW check out the architecture on their website. It is a gorgeous building.) After finishing the Ligeti project I dive into a “Real Opera” at last. As part of the internationally known Budapest Wagner Days I get to conduct Lohengrin semi-staged.
The great thing about being a conductor, or a musician in general is that you get to wear many hats. From Beethoven through Ligeti to Wagner: one feels like an actor playing different characters. You are only as good an actor as much you can be yourself in the role you are playing. Studying Lohengrin is giving me great pleasure. Just like I re-discovered the operatic nature of Beethoven 9 for myself I did just make a discovery about Wagner’s romantic “Knight on a Swan” tale. Learning this opera made me realize how organically Wagner’s artistry is rooted in German musical theater tradition. It might sound like a cliche or a no-brainer to many (or to all who knows even a little about W) but it is different knowing something from your studies and actually living it as a musician. NOW I see (and feel) that Lohengrin is the “Missing Link” (along with The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser of course) or rather the straight path between Weber’s Freischutz and Tristan und Isolde.

Ligeti 90
Wagner 200
Vajda 39 and One Lucky Guy with great pieces to conduct between now and mid June.

The Shostakovich-Beethoven and the Ligeti performances will be streamed live by the Hungarian Public Radio at