Kremer/Keller: killer combo hits the road

Solo classical musicians around the age of 70 need to wrestle with a difficult question. Should they continue as a soloist (despite signs of aging), or become a conductor, or limit one’s activities to chamber music, or teach in academia? Most opt for a comfortable professorship to spend their sunset years, a few others decide to favor the baton and podium to keep themselves in the stage spotlight, but very few can actually achieve the … Continue reading

Kálmán Theatre Debuts in Budapest with “Riviera Girl”

“The struggle for pleasure is the struggle for life,” uttered after an dramatic pause near the end of the Hungarian premiere of a new revival of “Riviera Girl” (1917) in the new Kálmán Imre Theatre on April 20, pretty much summed up how to fathom such unfathomable things as war, gambling, and love. That scene, an electric moment where one of the three men who were competing madly for the hand of a glamorous theatre singer, … Continue reading

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Shines a Light on Migration

Europe is in a bit of a state. As the UK triggers Article 50, and the populists stir up anxieties about national identity, our leaders debate the very future of the EU. In this environment, maintaining a cultural dialogue is critical and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam does not shy away, presenting a series of five exhibitions in 2017 that speak directly to the theme of migration. In a recent interview for De Volkskrant, the Stedelijk’s director, Beatrix Ruf said “It is … Continue reading

Let’s Celebrate It! World Poetry Day

“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.” United Nations. This statement is as relevant now as it’s ever been. Reminding people of our shared humanity is an urgent task, an essential response to the political debates taking place in Europe (and the world). We’ll … Continue reading

“Naïs” a sublime finale for MÜPA’s Early Music Festival

Jean Philippe Rameau’s late-Baroque opera “Naïs” (1749) served as the luminous grand finale of MÜPA’s recent Early Music Festival, which featured six concerts with international artists in the field of early music performance practice. From February 19 to March 4, soloists like countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and soprano Simone Kermes, and the groups Europa Galante, Ensemble Artaserse, Bach Consort Wien, and Budapest’s own Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra eloquently demonstrated the tightly structured and highly ornamented … Continue reading

Berezovsky Thrills Budapest With “Rach 3”

That almighty Russian piano training! It’s akin to Olympic-level sports discipline that guarantees the gold. Following in the footsteps of the great Russian pianists like Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, piano giant Boris Berezovsky blew into Budapest to perform “Rach 3” (vernacular for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor) with his astounding Olympic expertise at the Liszt Academy on Feb. 18 and 19. And what a mighty wind it was. With the … Continue reading

Antonina Campi Vocal Competition

“Opera is a beautiful but at the same time very complicated and even cruel world to live in,” writes Mateusz Wisniewsky, the Competition Manager of the new First International Antonina Campi Vocal Competition in Lublin, Poland. Named after a famous Polish singer born in Lublin, the competition will make its auspicious debut Feb. 7-10. Wisniewsky and one of Poland’s great sopranos, Ewa Vesin, both well-aware of the vagaries of the art form as well as … Continue reading

Folk-based Musical Tapestries at MÜPA Delight 

Folk music is the one of the most natural expressions of who we are. The classical repertoire is full of works written by composers who have tapped into historical treasure-troves of folk music as source material. The results illuminate the source as much as produce extraordinary masterpieces. Concerto Budapest’s “Roots and Routes” program on Jan. 26 in MÜPA’s Bela Bartók Hall explored several folk-inspired tapestries with song-and-dance inflected scores by Liszt, Dvorak, and a world … Continue reading

Varga’s Score Captures the Silly Seriousness of 1924

In 1966, history professors in the U.S. spoke carefully worded provisos regarding Soviet Russia’s promise that it would be able to penetrate the leadership of America without firing a single shot. The recent resurrection of a 1924 silent Soviet propaganda film, with a new score by composer Judit Varga, made its Hungarian debut on Jan. 12 at MÜPA. The occasion was a delightful combination of lively arts and a fascinating vehicle of political perspective. Directed … Continue reading

Magical Marinka sparkles at Berlin’s Komische Oper 

In the fifth consecutive annual re-creation of Hungarian composer Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán’s lesser-known works — he’s most known for his operettas “Countess Maritza” and “The Circus Princess” — Berlin’s Komische Oper prepared a dazzling iteration of “Marinka,” a show he wrote in 1945 for the American Broadway theatre. It was a musical homage to Vienna and Budapest, ostensibly set in 1889, but delightfully updated to the 20th century. For this presentation on Dec. 18 in … Continue reading