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Budapest Festival Orchestra: Brahms – 2

Budapest, Palace of Arts — Bela Bartok National Concert Hall

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About the Event

Immerse yourself in the stunning architecture of Budapest's breathtaking Palace of Arts for the ultimate concert set to awake your understanding of classical music.

After their February performance, the BFO is set to dazzle in May with two additional pieces from Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, a riveting concerto, and a symphony that dives deep into the heart of musical expression. The concluding dance of the series, also one of its most melodious, will set the tone for each segment. The performance will culminate with the melancholic Symphony in E minor by Brahms, a musical journey that spans from the Middle Ages to the Romantic era. The piece preceding the intermission, originally intended as a fifth symphony, was transformed into a double concerto. The violin's mesmerizing notes come from the 1693 Stradivarius played by Veronika Eberle, whose sound, as described by a Bachtrack critic, feels 'like a sunbeam piercing through the clouds.' Sharing the stage with her is the legendary and multifaceted Steven Isserlis, an inductee of the Gramophone Hall of Fame, celebrated for his roles as a cellist, writer, music pioneer, and ardent enthusiast.

Brahms’ twenty‐one Hungarian Dances stands as the crown jewel of his works. Ede Reményi, a violinist companion of the composer, acquainted him with the enchanting melodies of Hungarian urban gypsy music, particularly the csárdás and verbunkos genres. Brahms' arrangements for piano duets have become more iconic in their orchestral renditions. The vivacious 21st Hungarian Dance, marked by its swift rhythm, intricate embellishments, and the flute's dominance, evokes images of expert folk recorder performances. The 14th dance stands out as one of the rare pieces where Brahms crafted an original melody, creating a slow, graceful number echoing the elegance of a palotás, a traditional Hungarian court dance.

In a letter to Clara Schumann, Brahms amusingly remarked, “I was struck with the idea of crafting a concerto for violin and cello.” This double concerto served as an olive branch to Joseph Joachim, mending their strained friendship after Joachim's contentious divorce with his wife Amalie – a dispute where Brahms had sided with Amalie. In this composition, the cello and violin solos, representing Brahms and Joachim respectively, find harmony in their musical conversation, mirroring their real‐life reconciliation. While both instruments shine in their solos, it's their duets that captivate the audience, particularly when playing in unison. After an expansive introductory and slow movement, the piece concludes on a lighter note.

Contrary to Brahms’ apprehensions about the grave tone of his Symphony No. 4, its debut under his direction was lauded, with two segments earning encores with the Meiningen orchestra. The symphony starts with an intertwined rhythmic melody and a straightforward theme, escalating in intricacy. Following the classic sonata form, a slow movement with a medieval Phrygian tonality showcases what many believe to be Brahms’ finest melody. Brahms displays his wit in the scherzo, accentuating the jovial atmosphere with a triangle's delicate chime. The finale, crafted in a baroque chaconne style, layers over a Bach bass tune with intricate variations, leading the symphony to a poignant close.


  • Johannes Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 21
  • Johannes Brahms – Double Concerto For Violin And Cello In A Minor, Op. 102
  • Johannes Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 14
  • Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98
Program is subject to change


Orchestra: Budapest Festival Orchestra
Conductor: Ivan Fischer

Ivan Fischer is one of the world's most sought‐after conductors. Chief Conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin since the 2012/13 season, he was the founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 1983, and he enjoys a close partnership with the Vienna State Opera. Ivan Fischer has won numerous awards, and he has performed in practically every major concert house in the world.

Violin: Veronika Eberle


Cello: Steven Isserlis

Palace of Arts

MÜPA Budapest is a multipurpose cultural and arts centre, situated in the Millenium Quarter of Budapest. The former 'Palace of Arts' houses three cultural institutions - the Bartok National Concert Hall, the Festival Theatre, and the Ludwig Museum. Opened in 2005, the centre was immediately recognised for its state-of-the-art architecture and functionally sleek interior. The MÜPA's objective is to introduce modern arts while appreciating old traditions, and to make Hungarian art more accessible to a wider audience. The Bartok Concert Hall houses a magnificent organ, one of the largest in Europe. The complex presents events of many kinds, from opera to dance and concerts of contemporary music.


Palace of Arts, Komor Marcell sétány 1., Budapest, Hungary — Google Maps

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