Ivan Fischer gathers in Budapest refugees

Ivan Fischer gathers in Budapest refugees


norman lebrecht

October 25, 2017

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, has declared Eastern Europe ‘a migrant free zone’.

On Sunday, Ivan Fischer and members of his Budapest Festival Orchestra gave a Cocoa Concert for refugee families. They were responding to events in a Hungarian village that refused to allow its innkeeper to take in homeless families.

Ivan said: ‘The events in Őcsény really made me sad. That people are so afraid and react with such hatred toward unfortunate refugee families who go there to visit. If they listen to the concert together, a miracle can happen. I’ve been working for years to enhance Hungary’s good reputation in the world, and I wouldn’t like to abandon this goal.’

Here’s how it looked:


  • Elizabeth owen says:

    How heart warming and civilised.

  • Colin says:

    So, sixty-one years almost to the very day, when hundreds of thousands of Hungarians fled their homeland and were welcomed throughout the ‘free world’ in two hemispheres, the Hungarian prime minister has declared Hungary a migrant free zone and villagers stop an innkeeper from offering shelter to those in need. How shameful. I remember helping my mother chose clothes that we could to donate to the refugee children of my own age who had fled with nothing, everyone we knew gave what they could too. What happened to compassion? Even though I was only eight years old in 1956 I was aware that, “but for the Grace of God…”

    • Ungeheuer says:

      I think the complications arose when the general population of various European countries realized they had been completely left out of the decision making about allowing in countless refugees. I am willing to bet that none of the refugees are sheltered in the elite-decision-makers’ old growth, expensive and gentrified neighborhoods.

      • Zelda Macnamara says:

        That is only part of the reason, I think. I have been visiting Hungary almost every year since the early 90s and have watched with horror as some of my acquaintances have become more and more nationalistic and inward-looking. It started long before this latest refugee crisis. And Orban is a very dangerous man. So, all praise to Ivan Fischer.

        • John Borstlap says:

          The whole of Eastern Europe is getting nationalistic, as a defence reaction against the EU and globalization. They escaped Soviet domination, when they had lost their national independence; when the Soviet Union fell, they found it again and wanted to be part of the EU as a protection against possible Russian threats, but then they discovered that the EU is not only for getting money but also for taking part in collective action and THAT is not what they want. Regimes in countries like Hungary and Poland want their cake and eat it.

          The recent ideas of Ulrike Guérot about a ‘European Republic’ made-up not of nations but of regios, where the regios are free to decide for themselves whether they want to accept refugees / immigrants or not, sound more and more appropriate. In that still utopian vision, regios who accept refugees get EU subsidies. Of course such plan can only exist if an EU vaults over the regios and balances-out the differences.


      • Olassus says:


    • Doug says:

      So you equate opressive murderous communist rule with peace loving Islam? How long have you been an Islamophobe? Confess!

  • Sandora says:

    Hungary, Catalonia, Brexit…These are all a clear proofes of the fact that nationalism is damn, dangerous, self destructive fed by unreasonable ideas, greed and hate.
    Every thinking human should follow Fisher”s brave action in any form.

  • Geoff says:

    Another great Hungarian artist, Sir András Schiff, decided not to play again in Hungary. In 2011 he attracted attention because of his opposition to the political developments in his home country and the ensuing attacks on him by “Hungarian Nationalists”.
    Where is European culture headed?