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The Asian tour of Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra has achieved unprecedented success. During its concert tour from Hong Kong to Beijing to Shanghai to Taipei, the BFO has been welcomed by Chinese audiences in crowded concert halls seating several thousands of people, who burst into frenzied applause after each performance. “Like a Ferrari” – said one critic of a daily paper in Beijing. “Pure luxury; silent, quiet, fast and carries you away.”

The Hungarian musicians performed to grateful audiences even during their community programmes entitled “BFO Comes Knocking”, which are quite popular in Hungary. At the initiative of Iván Fischer, the musicians played music all day long in different social institutions in Shanghai. Residents of elderly homes even reciprocated the gesture, and played a Chinese piece on traditional instruments before playing music together with the Hungarians. Children aged between 2 and 15 enjoyed the music of BFO percussionists in an orphanage, while another group of musicians played music to patients of a children’s hospital. European musicians have never been to the local high school whose concert hall was crowded with students during the orchestra’s concert, nor were the Asian children fully familiar with Western instruments. József Bazsinka, the Festival Orchestra’s talented tuba player, gave a “master course” to pupils of a music school in Hong Kong; what is more, some children were lucky to attend the concert rehearsals.

The tour’s grand orchestra concerts – whose programme partly included Unfinished Symphonies by Bruckner (No. 9) and Schubert (No. 8), performed earlier in Hungary with huge success – earned the enthusiastic applause of several thousands of Asian concert goers. Iván Fischer addressed the audience in Hong Kong in Cantonese, in Beijing in Mandarin, who then “broke into wild applause” – as a Hungarian blogger accompanying the orchestra put it.

The concert in Shanghai was broadcast live by the greatest classical music radio station, while one of the “BFO Comes Knocking” programmes was recorded by Shanghai television.

 

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