Budapest slashes Ivan Fischer’s festival orchestra

Budapest slashes Ivan Fischer’s festival orchestra


norman lebrecht

May 02, 2016

The city of Budapest has summarily cut its subsidy to the Budapest Festival Orchestra from HUF 260 million to 60m. The 80 percent reduction leaves the orchestra with the equivalent of less than 200,000 Euros ($220,000) in city support. There was no advance warning or consultation, and no reason has been given.

The orchestra has cancelled three concerts, a tour and a week of outreach concerts including the landmark synagogue concerts.

Ivan has announced a protest rally in Budapest on May 7 under the slogan ‘Budapest deserves more; a leadership that looks after the culture of this wonderful city.’

This weekend he issued a video denouncing the city’s decision. It drew 30,000 viewers in a day.
ivan fischer
The orchestra’s much-larger state funding – HUF 1,150 million – is unaffected.



  • Olassus says:

    That is too abrupt.

  • Peter says:

    He criticized the political powers in charge. Now he is reprimanded. Stupid people, damaging the bigger interest of a nation and culture. Ivan Fischer is bigger than this sand box mentality, but the musicians affected face existential threats. Just shameful.

  • john humphreys says:

    Any wonder that Andras Schiff refuses to play in Hungary at the moment?

  • John says:

    Good bye, Festival Orchestra! One more reason to hate that government

  • ruben greenberg says:

    Antal Dorati conducted and recorded with an orchestra of Hungarian musicians living in exile in the seventies; in Germany, I think it was. Maybe the Budapest Festival Orchestra should go into exile too.

  • Robert Roy says:

    This is terrible news. Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Orchestra are one of the top combinations in the world today. Shame the city that does not realise what great ambassadors they are.

    • Sue says:

      I heard them together twice in 2011 in Vienna and I was amazed at this fabulous orchestra and its conductor and the frisson they created!! Wonderful.

  • Le Forgeron Blancard says:

    An excellent conductor, an original mind, a creative programme planner. And a superb orchestra. We need them.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Agree. But the Orban Dictatorship does not want a thinking conductor and orchestra. Hence the de-funding. Anything and anyone glorifying the vulgarity promoted by the Orban regime as “culture” is, of course, welcome. I wonder what will happen next, and what will happen in Poland under Kaczynski…

      • Strindberg says:

        The prob is that “your thinking conductor” Fischer can’t handle money. And do not forget: Hungary is not a rich country like Austria, Holland or Germany. Fischer wants to get as much financial support as the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Concertgebouw Orkest or the Berliner Philharmoniker.

        As for the “Orban-Dictatorship”, you should list for us the things you can’t or must not do, say, write, create, publish or else utter in Hungary today. Do you know the Hungarian cultural life at all? Have you ever been to the Hungarian State Opera there or the Erkel Theater? Have you ever attend a concert in the Liszt Academy of Music or in the newly restored Redout (Vigado)? Do you now how many theaters are there in Budapest and in the rest of Hungary? Do you know what they play? Do you know what books are published? You call these “vulgarity”? Mate, look around in your own country first and come back then and compare!

        • Musician says:

          I’m sorry, but if the Festival Orchestra needs the financial support that orchestras like Berlin, Concertgebouw or Vienna have (actually they are just asking for the support that they usually had to keep working or an explanation or notification for the cut) is because they deserve it as they play at that level. True that Hungary is not a rich country, but at least an explanation from the city major is due to the orchestra for that huge amount of cut.

          • Strindberg says:

            But the city major clearly explained: there are also OTHER orchestras and cultural activities to be supported in Budapest. (On the other hand the government raised their contribution to the Festival Orch somewhat but not in the same extent.). The West where Fisher has had several engagements seems to have spoiled him. He seems to have forgotten (?) that he economic preconditions in Hungary are in no way comparable with those in Austria, Germany or the Netherlands.

            The Festival Orchestra is good however we MUST NOT forget that there are also other orchestras ( …and they are not a few!) to be supported. Otherwise the rich musical life of Hungary / Budapest is affected. Ivan Fischer has been rather spoiled for quite a while as for economic resources: mentally he lives in Germany (where he also gets very well paid!), however the major and the government of Hungary cannot afford that kind of support as the economic resources are not endless.

  • debussyste says:

    He was quite critical of the refugee’s policy of the hungarian power so it’s not a surprise ! In Poland too, free artists have a hard time !

  • Strindberg says:

    Also part of the truth: Ivan Fischer’s festival orchestra gets MORE money than all the other orchestras in Hungary TOGETHER!

  • Szabo says:

    Ivan Fidcher gets the largest amount of financial support than any other Hungarian orchester. For him even the Darius treasure is not enough. On the other hand he hardly critisies the Goverment policy. It is enough. He might leave the country if he do not like it.

  • vincent lombardo says:

    This is crazy.. I only heard the news now. After hearing the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the great Ivan Fischer at La Scala interpret Mahler’s 4th Symphony (one of the best concerts for me in recent years), the news hits with bitter force. Let’s protest .. I am ready to do my part …

  • evelyn cherno says:

    I heard him last year in New York at his rehearsal and again at the concert. An extraordinary man and an amazing performance. I found this site because I was looking to see when I could hear him again.
    Given the severity of the cut and the manner of its execution it is a pointed rebuke, but for what?