She was the one who started to call selected musicians in 1983 with the news about a new orchestra in the making.
I learnt this today when Iván Fischer at the Academy of Music remembered Anna Pulay, “Frici”, founding member of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and its tour manager until her death before Christmas, at the age of 55.
I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity of seeing her close-up while she was working. With her endless enthusiasm, doing her utmost, and with more energy than an entire international department.
I tried in vain to tell her to slow down a bit, because what she was doing was not healthy.
She volunteered to be the sacrifice, the balladic figure of the wife of Kőműves Kelemen (who sacrificed her life for the castle to stand), only to pass away a few weeks before the 30th anniversary of the orchestra.
In his introduction, Iván Fischer said that Frici has been helping the orchestra from the very first moment – yes, indeed, using the present perfect continuous. Whether or not it was a slip of the tongue we do not know, but one thing is for sure, what Frici gave to the orchestra over 30 years will not vanish in the haze easily.
Frici was the breadwinner in her family, and the BFO today gave a charity concert for the benefit of her family.
Though the event was not given great media attention, the Academy of Music was full.
Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No.5 was the first piece on the program (stop crying! – I wish I could…), the recording includes the first concert of the Festival Orchestra, with exactly the same music being played from 1:25.
Let this not be a moment of sorrow, but of elation, Iván Fischer asked from the audience, and then the Festival Orchestra played Beethoven’s Symphony No.7.
This was the farewell bid by the orchestra to its legendary tour manager.
May she rest in peace!