Ivan Fischer: Why did Mahler write kindergarten music?

Ivan Fischer: Why did Mahler write kindergarten music?


norman lebrecht

October 07, 2014

I spent an elevating afternoon in Budapest with Ivan Fischer and his matchless festival orchestra around a performance of Mahler’s fourth symphony. I expressed a number of ideas about Mahler’s relationship with his childhood in a festival keynote lecture, unaware that Ivan in another room was outlining his own views. After the concert, the orchestra stood up and sang an encore.

Then we went off to Ivan’s house to play Chinese instruments.

This is an orchestra with an ambience unlike any other I have known.

Here’s Ivan.

ivan fischer piano sleighbells


  • Brian says:

    Wonderful conductor, superb orchestra. I wonder how long Mr Fischer will stick it in Orbán’s Hungary?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Totally agree about both conductor and orchestra. Quite surprising that he has stayed this long. But the really depressing thing about Hungary is that Orban is much better than the alternative: not the centre-left which is a long way third but Jobbik , which makes fascists look good.

    • Doug says:

      Until Fischer moves his family lock stock and barrell back to Hungary and raises his children as Hungarians his criticism of the regime will ring hollow.

      I have a problem with Fischer. While he rightly articulates many of the problems with classical music today, his solutions are purely superficial. For example. He bemoans jet-setting soloists and conductors. He claims his ‘solution’ is to not have a manager. Well, how about giving up the “jet-setting” life altogether and seriously working on righting the Hungarian scene? Little twists on concert format and allowing your players to rotate in and out like musical chairs are no solution.

      • M2N2K says:

        He knows the object of his criticism very well. Besides, the view and understanding of the beast from outside of it is quite often more accurate and comprehensive than what one can see while sitting inside of its belly. His “solutions” alone cannot solve all problems by themselves, but they are certainly worth a look and a try, until and/or unless we can find anything better.

  • Peter Metrinko says:

    What a warm personality! I would love to hear a series of musical lectures by him.

  • I was hoping that Ivan Fischer would be appointed to lead the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra after Jansons departure. It would have been a good match. Pity.