Budapest Festival Orchestra
News July 11, 2011

The Festival Orchestra for Children

Instead of organizing orchestra concerts in large halls for young audiences, we believe in a more intimate setting; the BFO’ s education events take place in smaller halls. The events are interactive with a one to one approach allowing children to ask questions and express their thoughts and feelings.

We also believe in the power of making music yourself. Children can be best motivated to listen and appreciate music while experiencing their own peers making music. Motivating children to sing and play instruments is the best route to educate future audiences.

Maestro Ivan Fischer has developed the concept of his cocoa concerts in the early nineties following the pedagogical methods of Ms. Katalin Forrai, a student of Zoltán Kodály. It is an interactive concert of very short music pieces performed by a solo instrument or small ensembles. Ivan Fischer explains the works to the children. The cocoa concerts have been a huge success for the last 20 years drawing capacity audiences.

Our national talent search has been developed in combination with Hungary’ s network of music schools. A jury consisting of BFO members chooses the most talented young instrumentalists from a pool of many hundred candidates. The BFO follows and supports the development of these music students and occasionally presents them in public concerts.

Special attention is given to handicapped children performing and listening to music. The BFO collaborates with Parafónia, an orchestra of young performers with autism and down syndrome. Special cocoa concerts are held for orphans and children with disabilities.

Fischer has also staged Hans Krasa’ s Brundibar, the children’ s opera originally performed by the young inmates of the Theresienstadt concentration camp. From this production our children today learn in an inspiring and engaging way about the deepest questions of history. The BFO’ s Brundibar production has visited many schools in Hungary.

Although conscious of this mission throughout his career, Fischer formally launched his innovative children’ s project in the 1990s when he could already leverage the world recognition of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. The impact has been outstanding and with the passing of time, the Orchestra’s reputation has become fully intertwined with education and a unique dedication to children. Ivan Fischer has become one of the most recognized international artists promoting issues of children’ s education and tolerance around the globe.


Maestro Fischer is planning to expand the scope and impact of his unique pedagogic approach both geographically and institutionally. The Budapest Festival Orchestra has started to organize special children’ s events on their global tours from Asia to Latin America.