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Great night music

Strange, isn’t it? Classical music ensemble the Budapest Festival Orchestra is playing the two one-act pieces of Béla Bartók in the concert hall named after the great composer, and the title of the concert is Everyday Madness. Though what follows thereafter is not insanity either!

There are few more heart-warming things for a Hungarian than seeing the name of Bartók in gigantic letters, in the company of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and other formidable composers, on the posters in Amsterdam’s world-famous concert hall, the Concertgebouw. Béla Bartók took the place he deserves amongst the giants of classical music long ago, and 67 years after his death his music stills sounds new, stirring our hearts and souls.

It’s madness!

Let’s take a closer look at the colours and dimensions of the man-woman relationship revealed by these two pieces. A woman, a temptress seducing men in The Miraculous Mandarin, and a man seducing a woman in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle! What a powerful depiction of the relations of man and modern society through the depiction of the relationship between a man and a woman! What a piece of music to show the depths of the human soul – is there anyone out there who does not fall under its spell? Is there anyone not swept away by the girl as the mandarin was swept away by her? Is there anyone strong enough not to open the last door?

This music opens the eyes of the listener to what is going on the world. As Illyés, an accomplished 20th century Hungarian writer and poet said, we have the right to look our fate in the eye through this music.

The Festival Orchestra plays the two pieces on three successive evenings in the Palace of Arts, then on the third night they move to the Millenáris Theatre to play the disharmonic melodies of the Mandarin suite again, a few minutes before midnight. The audience – young crowds, most of whom ride their bikes in the severe December cold as well – will be sitting around on bean bags enjoying the music.

“Madness it may be, but there is method in it”. It worked well in May, when the orchestra played “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, and in September, when “the encounter of modern and baroque” music was illustrated by Vivaldi and Zelenka. Now it’s Bartók’s turn!

9, 10, 11 December

VENUE: Béla Bartók National Concert Hall (Budapest IX., Korom Marcell u. 1.)

START: 19.45:30pm

COMPOSER: Béla Bartók

PROGRAMME: The Miraculous Mandarin, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

CONDUCTOR: Iván Fischer

TICKET PRICE: HUF 4,400–13,000

11 December

VENUE: Millenáris Theatre (Budapest II., Kis Rókus u. 16–20.)

START: 11:30pm

TITLE: The Miraculous Mandarin