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Mendelssohn–Schumann Marathon

Mendelssohn–Schumann Marathon

Artistic director: Iván Fischer

A joint event of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa Budapest.


The BFO and Müpa Budapest established the tradition in 2008. Music fans and experts alike consider the annual marathon a red-letter day, when everybody has the chance to indulge in the music of their favourite composer. The marathon attracts almost ten thousand people every year, and there is a considerable contingent of the gluttonous who sit through every concert. After featuring Tchaikovsky, Bach, Beethoven, Bartók, Mozart, Schubert, Dvořák, and Stravinsky, the 31 February 2016 marathon will, by way of a change, feature not one but two protagonists. The day’s programme will comprise music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Robert Schumann.

The oeuvres of these two great German romanticists are connected in many ways, yet they also provide numerous contrasts; while Mendelssohn poured his romantic feelings into classical forms, Schumann, at the beginning of his career, cast away traditional forms and was more the innovator, not clinging on to the classicist heritage.

They were literally contemporaries; Mendelssohn was born in 1809 and died in 1847 while Schumann, born in 1810, had a longer but much harder life and lived out his final years in the asylum at Endenich, where he passed away in 1856.

Mendelssohn, a child prodigy, was barely seventeen when he composed his overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Octet was another of his early works, while he also composed his first, short opera while still in his teens. He made his concert debut at the age of nine, and was just sixteen when, encouraged by Cherubini, he chose music as his profession. By virtue of his oeuvre alone he deserves to hold a place in the pantheon of the greatest composers of all time. Yet he is also widely credited with the rediscovery of Bach’s works, with the improvement of musical life in Leipzig and with the founding of the city’s conservatory, were he was both conductor and music director.

The young Schumann’s two passions were literature and music, and for some time he was unable to chose between them. In Leipzig – yielding to parental pressure – he studied law, although alongside that he was a student of the famous teacher, Friedrich Wieck, who would later become his father-in-law. At the age of twenty, having seen Paganini in concert, he finally chose music as his career. He founded the magazine Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in 1834, which he edited for 10 years and which became one of the most influential musical journals of the age. His rich and varied works, both as a composer and as a theorist, rightfully earn him a place among the greats of music history.

Tickets available from 4 November.

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