Ivan Fischer raises a Requiem for the Covid dead

Ivan Fischer raises a Requiem for the Covid dead


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2021

In their first concert for a live audience, Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Requiem on May 26 in memory of those killed by Covid-19. Family survivors have been invited free of charge and the concert will be streamed worldwide.

Iva Fischer says: ‘My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. Numbers are horrible enough: the world has lost over 3 million people, my country, Hungary alone is mourning nearly 30 000 of them. But behind these numbers there are people whose lives ended under very sad circumstances. In their final days they had to be isolated, couldn’t receive visitors, couldn’t say farewell to family members. It must have been heartbreaking for their loved ones who were denied access to the hospitals, who couldn’t hold the hand of their dying family member. We hope that mourners in many countries will listen to Mozart’s Requiem and their pain will be eased.’


  • DG says:

    This quote from Zadie Smith on Mozart’s Requiem sums it up, don’t you think?
    “Mozart’s Requiem begins with you walking towards a huge pit. the pit is on the other side of a precipice, which you cannot see over until you are right at its edge. Your death is awaiting you in that pit. You don’t know what it looks like or sounds like or smells like. You don’t know whether it will be good or bad. You just walk towards it. Your will is a clarinet and your footsteps are attended by all the violins. The closer you get to the pit, the more you begin to have the sense that what awaits you there will be terrifying. Yet you experience this terror as a kind of blessing, a gift. Your long walk would have no meaning were it not for this pit at the end of it. You peer over the precipice: a burst of ethereal noise crashes over you. In the pit is a great choir, like the one you joined for two months in Wellington in which you were the only black woman. This choir is the heavenly host and simultaneously the devil’s army. It is also every person who has changed you during your time on this earth: your many lovers; your family; your enemies, the nameless, faceless woman who slept with your husband; the man you thought you were going to marry; the man you did. The job of this choir is judgement. The men sing first, and their judgement is very severe. And when the women join in there is no respite, the debate only grows louder and sterner. For it is a debate — you realize that now. The judgement is not yet decided. It is surprising how dramatic the fight for your measly soul turns out to be.”

    • Dave says:

      I’d have said it ends at the pit; that, hollow, open fifth, ironically to the words “for thou art merciful”, one of the most frightening moments in music.

    • Rob Keeley says:

      Wow, that is amazing. I need to give ZS a read.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I guess I’ve just heard this work one hundred thousand times too many.

  • fflambeau says:

    Mozart has always been more popular East of Salzburg.

    Great idea, Maestro!