One day, eleven concerts, 500 minutes of nothing but music. The Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa Budapest are teaming up once again to host their eleventh joint musical marathon on 4 February 2018. This time, the star of the show will be a classic figure of the American dream: Leonard Bernstein. In addition to his music, the marathon will feature the works from other great 20th century American composers. Tickets for the marathon go on sale 13 November.
“There is no branch of music that Leonard Bernstein did not try; and he was masterful at all of them. A Renaissance phenomenon like Leonardo”, Oscar-winning Hungarian American composer Miklós Rózsa said of Bernstein, and marathon artistic director and conductor Iván Fischer can only agree. “He was versatile,” Fisher says. “He was a composer, a conductor, an educator, a humanist, and a genuinely deep thinker. From him, I learned that music is not a competitive arena of single-minded people. I’ll never forget what he said: ‘I love music, but I love people even more’.”
“To me, and to an entire generation, Bernstein’s educational television series about music represented an unforgettable encounter with the mysteries of the musical arts. The richness of Bernstein’s oeuvre is simply stunning. This year’s marathon will celebrate this fantastic versatility, from morning ‘til night,” Csaba Káel, CEO of Müpa Budapest, said, emphasising that the marathon is a special and distinguished day for Müpa Budapest each year. An intense and real community experience for audience members and the musical profession alike, the marathon – conceived jointly with the Budapest Festival Orchestra – will fill the entire building.
Bernstein, who would be turning 100 years old in 2018, has become an iconic voice of his time. His eclectic compositions mix jazz, Jewish tunes and music for the theatre. But no matter what he wrote, communication was always his highest priority. The marathon will feature a range of his works, including a humorous and a rousing political overture, psalms, motets and one of his most popular pieces, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Also on the programme will be excerpts from the dramatic Mass, composed at the request of President Kennedy’s widow; Symphony No. 1, presenting the story of Jeremiah the prophet; as well as the sociocritical Trouble in Tahiti, one of Bernstein’s most serious operas, for which he wrote both the music as well as the lyrics.
This unbridled versatility will be brought to life by some of the most exciting personalities on the Hungarian music scene. Accompanying you for this marathon will be the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amadinda Percussion Group, the Danubia Orchestra Óbuda, the Saint Ephraim Choir, the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Strings and the Modern Art Orchestra. The concert will also feature István Várdai on his legendary Stradivarius cello, previously used by Jacqueline du Pré. Croatian pianist Dejan Lazić will be here to share his original and contemporary approach to music, as will the American tenor Paul Appleby, who feels right at home in the Met, and at the marathon will be presenting his own evening of songs.
In addition to Bernstein’s pieces, the programme will also feature the works of other masters of twentieth century American music. The audience will be treated to a performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, one of the most effective pieces ever to merge jazz and classical music – and a tremendous hit since its debut. Scott Joplin’s ragtime may be familiar to those who have seen the Oscar-winning movie The Sting. The movie soundtrack-like music of Ferde Grofé, once called "the Prime Minister of Jazz,” takes listeners soaring over the Grand Canyon, and Samuel Barber’s melodic Adagio is a true audience favourite. In addition, students from the Liszt Academy will be performing free concerts in the Glass Hall throughout the day, while marathon visitors will have the chance to watch screenings in the Müpa Budapest presentation hall and visit the exhibit in the foyer.
The marathon day will feature eleven concerts of forty-five minutes each at Müpa Budapest. Chamber pieces will be performed in the Festival Theatre, with the orchestral pieces performed in the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall. The complete line-up for Marathon 2018 – Bernstein and American Music – is available on the websites of Müpa Budapest and the BFO; tickets go on sale Monday, 13 November at 2:00 p.m.