Ivan Fischer plays Mahler for fishes (get it?)

Ivan Fischer plays Mahler for fishes (get it?)


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2021

The Budapest Festival Orchestra, unable to perform for a live audience, plays Mahler’s seventh symphony for an aquarium full of its conductor’s namesakes.

I recognise a couple of would-be critics in the tank. The video has just gone live on-line.

The next concert’s Bait-hoven.



  • Brian says:

    Fabulous, thanks. And speaking of people in the tank: I am reminded – by the fish, obviously, not by the music-making – of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. You know, that moment when Mr Creosote walks into the fancy restaurant…

  • AllesMahler says:

    Fischer translated as fisherman (the one who catches fishes) …
    Ivan Fischer is one of the great Mahler conductors of our time and I love his sense of humour …

  • Vincent says:

    Antonius von Padua

  • J Barcelo says:

    Then comes the Eelgar…

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Ooh…Ugh! I just knew somebody would conger that up from somewhere…..

    • Gustavo says:

      Samueel Barb-er
      Arnold Bass
      Goby Burbot
      Frederick Discus
      Joyce Di Dorado
      Granville Haddock
      Carl Orfe
      Joseph Sucker
      Sir Charles Mackerel
      Cesar Koi
      Johannes Breams

      Anyone eelse?

  • Patrick says:

    Phenomenal. And a great man, too.

  • Wise Guy says:

    This is the guy to watch, a truly interesting conductor.

  • caranome says:

    No worries about audience coughing or arriving late.

  • Gustavo says:

    Des Ivan von Buda Fischpredigt

    Spitzgoschete Hechte, die immerzu fechten…

  • JussiB says:

    Should have played 2nd symphony scherzo.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I guess the Mahler critic in me finds this a bit strange. For the first Nachtmusik (2nd movement) of his 7th symphony, Mahler spoke of his being inspired by Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” painting. Perhaps they were under a certain time restraint, but I find Fischer’s tempo rather quick for any real sense of mystery to set in – it’s a briskly moving night patrol. For this particular movement, I like Abbado’s 16 minute pacing. I don’t ‘get’ the fish thing, but to each their own.

  • Mario Lutz says:

    Antonius Ivan der Dirigent
    Die Konzert Halle findt ledig.
    Er geht zu ein Fischglas
    und Er spielte mit dem Orchester

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I’d imagine the critics to be the stuffed shirts, I mean animals.

  • Martinu says:

    Very exciting. Great performance, though a little rough sometimes.. The fish were an excellent audience. Interesting that in the 4th movement (3rd here) the guitar and mandolin, though perfectly balanced, were rarely filmed. They deserve more. (and where is the 1st movement?)

  • Novagerio says:

    What’s the hurry Ivan?

  • Gustavo says:

    I believe Ivan wants to demonstrate that only humans have problems and couldn’t care less about what other creatures hear, feel and think.

    We have completely lost contact to nature and also like to give nature the blame for our own problems (economy, globalisation, migration, religion, culture, science, medicine). COVID-19 is a good example…we are “at war” against nature.

    Why not just accept that humans are part of nature like the fish can accept an incomplete version of Mahler’s 7th?

  • Rob says:

    Mahler scaled down.

    His recording of Mahler 7 was a drop in the ocean.

  • sam the nylic says:

    I thought it would be “S Anthony’s Sermon to the Fish”

  • Bob Slagle says:

    Who is Ivan’s drug dealer? Does anybody have an address for a phone number? Whatever he’s on, you still conducts a good Mahler. I heard a rumor though, that if an orchestra player makes a mistake they “sleep with the fishes.”