Budapest Festival Orchestra
Interviews July 06, 2013

Iván Fischer: “What brings a twinkle to the eye?”

The Budapest Festival Orchestra is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013. In a conversation a while back, the founding conductor and music director reminisced about how, as a young conductor, he would sit in hotels after concerts, writing in his notebooks how an ideal orchestra should function. Iván Fischer realised his dream so well that his orchestra is ranked among the top ten in the world. (

- As The Times said, you created your orchestra from “the cream of Hungary’s young musicians”. You have strived to change the traditional relationship between conductor and orchestra. How were you able to dispel the contradiction between creativity-centred musical education and the “impersonal” performance expected of an orchestra musician?

- This is the most important question. I would like to begin by saying that I am not the only person doing this. The last few decades have seen the founding of a lot of chamber orchestras where the goal has been to keep chamber music performance methods alive. Examples include Orfeus in New York or the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra here in Hungary.  There are a lot of young orchestras as well, I currently believe Spira mirabilis is the most interesting. With the BFO, I took it a step further, as I wanted to realise this creative performance method in a conducted symphony orchestra. This required two things. On the one hand, the musicians’ creativity needed to be kept alive, which I was able to do by creating a lot of situations where they could play as soloists, leaders and chamber partners. On the other, my own method of conducting needed to be developed to allow more room for a musician to understand the whole piece in-depth and apply their creativity alongside traditional instructions.

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