Just in: Viktor Orban saves the Budapest Festival Orchestra

Just in: Viktor Orban saves the Budapest Festival Orchestra


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2020

Ivan Fischer’s orchestra, threatened for months with insolvency, has been saved by Hungary’s newly authoritarian regime.

Here’s what they tell us:

An agreement has been reached between the Hungarian Government and the Budapest Municipality regarding the subsidizing of Budapest’s theatre companies. The agreement includes a 4-year subsidy agreement of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. The internationally celebrated orchestra will receive 1650 Million HUF (US$5 million) from the state and 240 Million HUF from Budapest in 2020, and from 2021 the grant from the state will be raised to 2 000 Million HUF ($6 million).

Ivan Fischer, Music Director of the BFO, says: ‘I am very happy, this is a very welcome and satisfactory arrangement which puts an end to years of cuts and uncertainty and allows us to concentrate on the music.’



  • Gustavo says:

    Great leadership!

  • Wotan says:

    The Fisher Brothers both of them have been criticizing Orban for many years but now they take his money!
    hypocritical par excellence

    • The fact is that Ivan and his marvelous orchestra helped Hungary to have a cultural presence outside of Central Europe. And during the last years the Budapest Orchestra was among the 12 best orchestras in the world.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I believe this! I saw the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the Musikverein in 2011 with Fisher at the helm and it was wonderful!! That year I’d seen many of the world’s major orchestras in that venue (and the Konzerthaus) and I kept thinking there wasn’t really much between any of them; they were ALL fabulous!! The BFO was thrilling.

        • In the International rankings Budapest is always very high and it’s normal after Amsterdam Berlin or Vienna. And when you see a concert of this orchestra the price ticket is very low it’s not like with the Berliner and the Winer.

          • Tamino says:

            those rankings are utter bs. sorry. those are all excellent orchestras, but this is not sports. resist the urge to compare without necessity.

    • Mcs says:

      It’s not Orbán’s money. So beat it.

      a Hungarian taxpayer

    • Manu says:

      Does Adam Fischer conduct the BFO? I think your criticism should focus on Ivan not Adam, if you want to be fair in this case.

    • Manu says:

      Is Adám Fischer commited to the BFO? First news! If you want to criticize in this case, please focus on Iván. But in any case it is taxpayers money…

    • jsot1988 says:

      Typical dictatorship thinking here. One thing is political posture and another is cultural funding for a country that craves it in every corner despite the imperative attempt of his government to fund soccer over everything else. Just because Ivan is an avid critic to Orban’s antidemocratic moves, doesn’t demerit the fact that Festival is the “jewel of the crown” of hungarian orchestras (not to demerit the other bunch amazing orchestras around Hungary, which actually make a fantastic job and struggle to get good funding, part due to the considerable amount that Budapest Festival takes from public budget) and deserves to keep making what they do best. And it’s money he got from really high taxes that he charges.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed. It is not money of Mr Orban but of the state. But in this way, Mr Orban buys respectability for his antidemocratic authoritarian regime, and the tragedy is that Mr Fisher now underwrites, indirectly, that regime. It shows how difficult it is for cultural institutions to survive either financially or morally under dictatorships. You cannot have it both ways.

        • SVM says:

          The UK cannot take any moral highground here. Successive UK governments have conducted, fomented, or abetted illegal regime-change wars all over the world, killing millions of civilians and breaking international law. Successive UK governments have lied to the electorate and broken manifesto pledges upon assuming power. The UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system is grossly unrepresentative, leaving millions of voters without any political voice. Meanwhile, when it comes to arts funding, orchestra managers are too scared to voice any disagreement with the top brass at the ostensibly ‘arms-length’ Arts Council England (e.g.: on the importance of reading music, something which said top brass underrates), lest they lose funding.

          Despite these manifestations of ‘dictatorship’ in the UK, I do not see any criticism of UK conductors or ensembles that accept taxpayer subsidy. Double standards?

          • John Borstlap says:

            I was not talking about the UK’s moral highground here. It was my own, individual ground, and whether it’s high enough, I can’t tell.

    • jplayer says:

      So you’re saying that Hungary’s tax revenue and the significant EU funding it receives are Orbán’s money? That would make him a kleptocrat, wouldn’t it?

  • Brettermeier says:

    “Viktor Orban saves the Budapest Festival Orchestra”

    Let the “See, he isn’t that bad!” comments start.

    • Dennis says:

      Not only is Orban not “that bad,” he isn’t “bad” at all. Quite the finest statesman in Europe today.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, he stood up to Merkel and her EU puppets and apparatchiks and said he’d determine the fate of Hungary, and that open borders wasn’t one of these!! Good for him!!

        The Left doesn’t like decisive people; it likes puppets who can be manipulated and values that a truck can be driven through.

    • V.Lind says:

      Absolutely typical of some of the types around here to think Orban is a good guy because he helps save something he probably approves of personally. What this man has done to democratic principles is so outrageous as to make Trump look like a liberal.

      • Dennis says:

        “ Absolutely typical of some of the types around here to think Orban is a good guy because he helps save something he probably approves of personally”

        On the contrary, I admired Orbán for many reasons long before this latest act of cultural protection.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        You obviously have zero understanding of ‘democratic principles’. Is that like the ‘principles’ you have when your streets are so filthy from homeless people, where human waste is pervasive and it’s too dangerous to walk the streets and were the law refuses to punish transgression because it is filled with SJWs?


        • V.Lind says:

          Where on earth do you live? In that toxic and fecal mind of yours?

          “Filthy from homeless people” is about the most disgusting phrase I have ever read on this site. It should get you banned — not just from here, but from the human race.

        • Luca says:

          You’ve obviuosly never been to Budapest. Your “facts” are all out of joint.

  • Maria Vlachou says:

    They shouldn’t accept it…

    • Barry Guerrerof says:

      Yes they should. Sometimes one has to make a pact with the devil to survive. The BFO doesn’t have an endowment to fall back and – as we all know – orchestras can’t survive on ticket sales alone.

    • Tamino says:

      Disagree. The Orbans come and go, but music will – and must – live for ever.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Wonderful news. What do we know about Victor Orban’s level of involvement ?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    What a champion!!

  • Manu says:

    Let’s kill Oistrahk, Shostakovitch, Pfitzner, Svetlanov, Mavrinsky, et altri, then.

  • MezzoLover says:

    This move by Viktor Orbán is entirely consistent with his concept of “illiberal democracy”.


    Just another opportunity for him to show, to the rest of the world, how he prioritizes and protects the “European” culture of the community and the people of Hungary.