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Bach, Johann Sebastian

As part of the Bach Marathon running from Sunday morning till night, pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach will be performed by renowned Hungarian and foreign musicians at the Palace of Arts in Budapest.

As Iván Fischer, music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) and artistic director of Bach Marathon, said at the press conference about the series on Tuesday, Bach easily stands out from all other musicians and cultural geniuses. “He gave such a gift to humanity that no one else gave before. We enjoy it every day, and we would like to share this joy with audiences” – he explained.

Besides BFO, the marathon covering 11 concerts also features Xavér Varnus, Barnabás Kelemen, László Fassang, Miklós Perényi, the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Strings Chamber Orchestra, the Saint Ephraim Male Choir and the world-famous Belgian Kuijken family playing early music.

While praising Bach, Iván Fischer underlined that each rehearsal in the morning starts with a Bach choral. “This is also for psychological purposes: it draws a line between the external world and the world of arts and music. We all begin the day in this devotion” – he said. Stefan Englert, managing director of BFO, shed light on the greatness of the German composer by citing Nietzsche: “Bach was a giant, everyone else is a dwarf on his shoulders”.

Stefan Englert said that formulating the concept of the Bach Marathon proved to be a double challenge for the orchestra. As he explained, they had no other choice than to select fragments from an enormous oeuvre on the one hand, and they had to decide whether the compositions should be played on period or modern instruments on the other. “As for the latter, Iván Fischer took the middle path: both instrument groups will play a part in the Marathon. Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-3, for example, will be played on modern instruments, Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 4-6 on historical instruments” – he clarified.

According to Stefan Englert, the highlight of the day will be an early music concert by the Belgian Kuijken brothers, who will perform a late masterpiece by Bach entitled The Musical Offering, a collection of ten canons, two fugues and a trio sonata, on baroque violins, harpsichords and other period instruments.

The Marathon will end with Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and the triumphant Magnificat performed by the BFO, one of the ten greatest classical music orchestras in the world, and conductor Iván Fischer in collaboration with the Saint Ephraim Male Choir.

Live streaming of the approximately thirteen-hour long whole-day programme series will be available on the website of the Palace of Arts and BFO as well as on MR3 Bartók Radio from 12pm.

Music marathons as a joint production of the Palace of Arts and the Budapest Festival Orchestra began in 2008. In the first year, audiences could enjoy pieces throughout the day by Tchaikovsky, this was followed in subsequent years with compositions by Dvořák, Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart, and latterly Bartók.