Budapest Festival Orchestra
Press reviews March 18, 2016

Iván Fischer in Bologna

Iván Fischer The Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler is not just performed, it is staged. To take it to the Manzoni, the Bologna Festival has brought together tonight at 8.30 pm three musical giants to perform under the baton of Hungarian Iván Fischer: the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the women's choir of Santa Cecilia Rome and the children’s choir of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna (with mezzosoprano soloist Gerhild Romberger). (La Repubblica - Bologna/Luca Baccolini)

A titanic effort, but appropriate for a festival which is in its 35th year. Fischer is not friendly to the Orbán Government, with his critical and staunchly pro-European stance. Tonight, the composer and conductor will be leading an ensemble to revive Mahler’s great vision of life: 100 minutes of music in six movements, a slow, Dantesque ascent towards the conquest of pain, although according to the symphony’s original programme it is what he has been told by “flowers, animals, men, angels and love”.

Maestro Fischer, how do you view this gaping abyss?
“As one of the most beautiful symphonies of all times, a large fresco of ideas and dreams. As a student, I heard it for the first time in Vienna, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. It was love at first listen. And even today I still feel the same.”

“Joy wants eternity”, says Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted in the fourth movement.
"Here Mahler chose one of the most beautiful passages from Thus Spake Zarathustra. I think that the idea of the Superman in this great book has been misunderstood. It has nothing to do with the vulgar Nazi interpretation. Nietzsche was also a great poet. And I think that phrase, "joy, or love, wants eternity" is the most important: it's so hard to say goodbye to the world…"

Even now, is this still struggling to be expressed? He speaks of his opposition to the nationalism of Viktor Orbán, which he has denounced ever since Orbán came to power.
“I am a passionate, sincere pro-European and I'm certainly quite worried by these setbacks. But I also remember that in Europe in the past 70 years, with the exception of the Balkans, we have had no wars. At the beginning this was a continent of blood, where one country regularly attacked another. We are in a difficult process of integration, which brings with it repeated doubts and setbacks. That's why music is becoming even more important because it reminds us that we all have common feelings, without frontiers.”

What stage are you at after thirty plus years of engagement with the Budapest Festival Orchestra?
“I consider the BFO the best in the world because with them I have achieved some of the best musical results in my career. I'm surrounded by a family that understands me profoundly. Have no doubt: I’ll be sticking with them as long as I have strength.”