SOLD OUT Dinner & Russian Music / Teltházas vacsora és orosz mesterek

Our second classical concert of the season here in Huntsville is coming up on Friday. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 “Classical”, Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.2 with the amazing Kathy Chi returning
and Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5
Join us for this powerful program of Russian music at the Von Braun Center!

On Sunday as our first Casual Classics show of the season, at the beautiful Carriage House of the Huntsville Botanical Garden, we’ll be presenting our annual dinner concert. And we are officially SOLD OUT. Everyone who will be there will find out if Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds improves digestion, and if Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings is sweet enough to make it to the Dessert Menu.

E hét pénteken a Huntsville Symphonyval, a Von Braun Center színpadán orosz mesterek műveit játsszuk. Zongora szólistánk, visszatérő vendégként, a fantasztikus Kathy Chi lesz Kanadából.
Nyitánynak Prokofjev Klassszikus Szimfóniája, a második félidőben pedig Csajkovszik Ötödikje hangzik majd fel.

Vasárnap az idei szezon első Casual Classics koncertjét tartjuk, amelyen a vacsora mellé felszolgált zenei menü Mendelssohn és Sztravinszkij egy-egy oktettje lesz, előbbi vonókra, utóbbi fúvóshangszerekre. Az évente egyszer megrendezésre kerülő koncert-vacsora rendkívül népszerű, és egy pár hete már minden jegy elkelt.

Jó étvágyat!

It Has Begun / Elkezdődött

Season 2018-19 has begun. On Friday, September 21 we’ve opened the season in Huntsville in front of a packed and very enthusiastic house. We have played an Americana program with a twist: Bernstein: Slava!, Gershwin: Concerto in F, the solo piano part was played beautifully and with lots of energy by Gilles Vonsattel
Stravinsky: Symphony in 3 Movements, Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. The latter was dedicated to the memory of HSO’s principal bassoonist-music librarian-personal manager, Hunter Thomas who’ve passed away at the age of 62 at the end of August.

I am off to Hungary now to conduct my first concert with the Hungarian Radio Symphony this season. It is a beautifully crafter program (thanks to Program Director György Igric!) featuring the members of the orchestra as soloists. The program is as follows: Debussy: Afternoon of a Faun (in Schoenberg’s arrangement), Debussy: Two Dances for Harp and orchestra, Debussy: Rhapsody No.1, Bartók: Rhapsody No.1&2, Bartók: Divertimento for strings. This concert is the closing event of the all concert marathon of “The Day of the Music Ensembles of the Hungarian Radio”. There will be live broadcast online as always. Please tune in!

A 18-19-es szezon elkezdődött. Szeptember 21-én pénteken a Huntsville Symphonyval lelkes és számos közönség előtt játszottuk első klasszikus koncertünket. A program Bernstein Slava! nyitánya, a West Side Story Szimfonikus Táncok, Sztravinszkij Szimfónia három tételben című múve, és Gershwin F-Dúr zongoraversenye voltak, utóbbi szólistájaként Gilles Vonsattel mutatkozott be.
A West Side Story szvitet Hunter Thomas emlékének ajánlottam, aki a zenekar első fagottosa, kottatárosa és zenekari menedzsere volt, és aki augusztus végén, hosszú betegség után távozott. Hunter a zenekar régi és megbecsült tagja volt, és a környék legismertebb fagott tanára is egyben. Szombat delután a University of Alabama Huntsville kis koncerttermében tartottunk egy koncerttel egybekötött megemlékezést is, ahol az HSO nevében én búcsúztattam, és emlékeztem meg a közös évekről.

Hamarosan indulok Budapestre, ahol idei első koncertemet vezénylem a Magyar Rádió Zenekarával. A Magyar Rádió Művészeti Együtteseinek Napja a Bartók Rádióban egész napos sorozat zárása képpen egy Debussy-Bartók hangversenyt adunk a zenekar tagjainak szólóival. A részletes program itt elérhető:

A concerted a Bartók Rádió élőben közvetíti.

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!

Slavic Feast at Silicon Valley

Tonight and tomorrow afternoon Symphony Silicon Valley presents its second to last weekend of their 15-16 classical concert season. As a returning guest conductor I get to lead the orchestra in the following program:

Martinu: Overture
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #3 – with Natasha Paremski as soloist
Prokofiev: Love for Three Oranges Suite
Janáček: Sinfonietta

This is my first time doing the Martinu piece, a lovely neoclassical, “all C-major” type of opening and also the reduced version of Sinfonietta (I think I am sticking with the original version in the future).

Check out the program here:

This is my third time in Silicon Valley around Cinco de Mayo. Since Wednesday evening was kind of quiet I anticipate to run into more parties downtown tonight. I will look around after the concert for sure.

WOW Verdi

Sure I know, Verdi was a genius. I have always known that. Everybody knows that. When you are studying one of his operas however it all just hits you again. I have not done a fully staged Verdi for years (I was fortunate to do ‘Un ballo in maschera’ at the Montreal Opera) but now it is time again. I will be conducting four performances of ‘Don Carlo’ at the Budapest Opera (Erkel Theater) at the end of November and first week of December. Amazing ideas, inventive harmonies, unparalleled characters, genius orchestration. I am having an amazing time just studying it.
Five Acts in three parts, over three hours of great music by Giuseppe Verdi.

I titled my blog post ‘WOW Verdi’ because I felt the urge to write about the way learning truly amazing music makes me feel. Talking about that, before I get in the pit of the Erkel Theater in Budapest I will be conducting another great, however completely different kind of show in Huntsville and will be even playing the clarinet.

On Friday, just 8 days from today Kirill Gerstein
will be joining the HSO in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #4 followed by Bruckner’s Symphony #4 ‘Romantic’.
Kirill, pianist extraordinaire and a good friend has agreed to open our Casual Classics series as well just two days after he plays with the orchestra. This is where I pick up my clarinet and along with principal wind players of the Huntsville Symphony will perform Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. The first Casual Classics of the season is called “Beethoven Conversations” and will be held at Roberts Hall of University of Alabama, Huntsville. Join us Sunday at 3:30PM if you are interested in hearing Kirill and I talk about Ludwig and about other composers and classical music related, exciting stuff as well. And of course, there will be music played by Beethoven. He was a genius. But everybody knows that.

Last Friday I conducted the HSO’s first concert in the Pops Series. We presented live magic acts with live symphonic music including pieces by Liszt, Saint-Saens, Berlioz, John Williams and others. Michael Grandinetti illusionists did an amazing job with our Halloween audience and let our orchestra shine in making music as well as in doing a mind reading trick with the audience. Want to know more? You are just going to have to check out Michael’s shows!


Welcome back everyone!
I hope you all had a great summer and you are ready for the next season of great classical music.
My 2015-16 season starts on September 4 with a concert performance of Lady Sarashina by Peter Eötvös at festival Triennial di Milano as part of the Milano World Fair.
I will be conducting the cast of the October 2014 Budapest production and the Hungarian Radio Symphony at Teatro dell’Arte.
See the blog post about the Budapest production here:

I have the honor of conducting the first two shows of a brand new concert series with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Budapest Music Center.
On the program:
Haydn: Symphony No. 6 “Le Matin”
Haydn: Piano Concerto in D-major
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale”

The solo piano part of the Haydn concerto will be played by Misi Boros, an amazing young talent, winner of the Hungarian classical music TV talent show “Virtuozok”
There will be two shows, one at 4pm, one at 7:30pm on Saturday, September 12. The Hungarian Radio will do its usual live broadcast that you can listen to online.

After Milano and Budapest I am ready for Huntsville. I will lead the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra in a blockbuster program of music by Britten and Vaughan Williams. This will be my first time conducting ‘A Sea Symphony’ by RVW. You don’t want to miss the amazing voices of Tiffany Bostic-Brown, Terrance Brown and the Huntsville Community Chorus! If you are in or around Huntsville on September 18 you don’t want to miss this performance!
Happy New Season!


Balazs Fulei
pianist and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under my direction will be performing a somber and touching program all about drama, death and transfiguration. The venue is the beautiful Main Hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest.

Brahms: Tragic Overture
Bartok: Piano Concerto #2
Jozsef Sari: Jacob is Wrestling with The Darkness (World Premiere)
Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration

Ultimately all musical pieces are about Transfiguration.
The very nature of playing and listening is that you become a different person after experiencing live music. Music itself of course is nothing else than transfiguration of notes. With the World Premiere of Jozsef Sari’s composition we are celebrating the 80th Birthday of the composer who will be present at the concert hall.

Tomorrow at 7:35PM Hungarian time (1:35PM EST) you can listen to our concert live by clicking here
The concert will be available for streaming for another two weeks. Just search by date and time!

On Saturday afternoon Bartok’s 2nd Piano Concerto moves to Studio VI. at the Hungarian Radio. We’ll be recording another show for the Musically Speaking series. Musicologist Zoltan Farkas is doing the talking in front of a live audience. The show will be aired in a couple of months.

Three Heroes (Radio Symphony Season Finale)

The 70th Season of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (MR Symphony) is coming to an end. On Wednesday, May 14 I am conducting the season finale of the orchestra’s classical series with the following program.
Bela Bartok: Two Portraits
Gregory Vajda: Csardas Obstine (Hungarian Premiere)
Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto #2
Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (The Hero’s Life)

Starting my very own “Strauss Year Celebration” (I will be doing two more tone poems in the coming year) I programmed ‘Ein Heldenleben’ as the main piece of the concert. I love the wit and the audacity of Strauss writing a piece about himself as The Hero. Since the tone poem was conceived as a modern version of Beethoven Symphony #3 “Eroica” (and a more effective and artistic version of “Wellington’s Victory”) it is clear that Strauss knew exactly who he was and what he could do and where he belonged. He belonged with all the great artists whose life itself was enough for a story to be put to music. Strauss had the ‘Chutzpah’ to write about nothing else but his own personal life (love-life included). Guess what, it worked!
As my much shorter in length and much more humble personal ‘Ein Heldenleben’ is titled “Csardas Obstine”. This composition was written in 2011 for the Liszt Anniversary and was premiered at two summer festivals in the US. Based on the experiences of these performances I created a new orchestration for the Hungarian Premiere. In this new version, instead of the full Liszt size orchestra, the solo piano is accompanied by 2 flutes (2. also piccolo), 1 english horn, 2 clarinets (2. also Eb clarinet), 1 bassoon, 2 trumpets, 1 tuba, 1 harp, 3 (or more) percussion players -#1 and #2 positioned down stage next to the solo piano-, 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 3 basses. This reduction makes it easier for the chamber orchestra to keep up with the virtuoso material of the soloist. I have composed Csardas Obstine as a short (15 minutes) piece to go with Liszt Piano Concerto #2 which is the way we perform it this time as well. The title is borrowed from Liszt himself, who has also written two Csardas Obstines for solo piano. Other than an homage and a tribute to Franz Liszt (or Liszt Ferenc as Hungarians call him) my composition is telling the story of The Hungarians, just like the original two Obstinate Csardas’. There is a lot of energy in the piece, a lot of imagination, many ideas that start but then quickly end and do not develop into anything more substantial. Much like the A-major concerto by Liszt my composition has a form like Peer Gynt’s onion.

I hope we’ll all have fun peeling the musical layers together!

Talking about Peer Gynt, last time I’ve worked with pianist Gabor Farkas was two years ago and it was Grieg’s Piano concerto on the program. 🙂

To open the concert I picked one of Bartok’s most directly personal piece called Two Portraits. The two movements are “The Ideal” (practically the first movement of Violin Concerto #1) and “The Grotesque”. Both movements are based on the theme “D-F#-A-C#” which is the musical signature of violinist Stefi Geyer. Read more about the story of the First Violin Concerto and Two Portraits here:

Three Heroes of mine: Bartok, Liszt and Richard Strauss. Three compositions with a personal story: Bartok, Vajda, Strauss. Two piano concertos and a wonderful pianist. This is all the Season Finale of the Hungarian Radio Symphony, and much more. Palace of the Arts is filming the performance. I hope I get to see it soon on TV!

PS: A day before stepping on the stage of Palace of the Arts again I am giving a presentation at the only English language Rotary Club in Hungary. The topic: “The Symphony Machine” -Programming, funding and fundraising in the world of Symphony Orchestras in the US and in Hungary.
Rotary Club Budapest-City