The Hungarian National Philharmonic, 2018/19 season

Zsolt Hamar, the musical director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, tells us about the highlights of the season:

“Dear concert-goers and music fans,

“Change is a force that lifts everyone up and takes them forward,” the ancient philosopher Tatius once said.

This is something that we, the musicians and artists of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, are well aware of. Which is why, with more than 100 years of tradition behind us, we have decided to go forth in search of new paths. We have the legacy of János Ferencsik, which has turned the Philharmonic into Hungary’s greatest orchestra, Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi’s magical force, which has made it one of the most popular, and Zoltán Kocsis’s creative brilliance, which polished our group into a perfectly tuned workshop of music. All three have pushed us to aim for ever higher peaks.
And none of this would have been possible without you. We are incredibly grateful that so many people have supported us so enthusiastically and that more and more of you have graced Hungarian National  Philharmonic concerts with your presence.

We hope to make even more progess during the 2018/19 season.

We already have two established concert series at Müpa Budapest, while, of course, we will also continue our traditional concert series at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. We are also delighted to have found a home at the acoustically and aesthetically delightful Vigadó Concert Hall, where we have the pleasure of inviting you to enjoy a short Beethoven concert series. For the first time, Hungary’s largest and most popular choir, the Hungarian National Choir, will appear in a concert series at the Italian Cultural Institute. We can also highly recommend our Haydn concert series, the Mirror Hall Evenings, which will be held at a new venue – the unique splendour of the Festetics Palace Concert Hall. One other new development is the Gin-Tonic concert series at the Castle Garden Bazaar. The venue has an exciting and innovative stage layout, making it the perfect setting for what promises to be an incredibly interesting musical adventure featuring elements of contemporary music and jazz. Another unmissable element of the 2018-19 season is our traditionally hugely successful chamber music series, the Open Rehearsal Room.

And when it comes to special guests, we have a parade of global stars lined up for your enjoyment. Dennis Russel Davies, Sylvain Cambreling, Ton Koopman and Andrey Boreyko will all join us to perform alongside the Hungarian National Philharmonic. Bertrand de Billy is a returning guest, while naturally we will also welcome the master Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi to the podium; and that’s just the conductors. One of the greatest singing stars, Karita Mattila, will be our special guest, as will the superb violin virtuoso Vadim Gluzman, while the ‘musical terminator’ Tzimon Barto has also accepted our invitation. We will also continue to play an important role in showcasing Hungarian musicians. The internationally-recognised István Várdai, one of the finest cellists in the world, will be our resident musician for this season, so we will have the pleasure of hearing him play in a variety of performances. We will also host Kristóf Baráti, Máté Szűcs and Gábor Tarkövi, three soloists who would attract full houses in any concert hall around the world. We will also continue to present contemporary Hungarian composers and their works. For example, we will host the world premiere of the latest musical piece from the incredibly talented Mária Antal, a Hungarian who now resides in England.

We hope that our range of programmes are to your liking and that we will continue to have the pleasure of your company at our concerts. I wish you a pleasant season, full of wonderful musical moments!”



Hungarian National Philharmonic





When the Japanese conductor Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi (b.1940) appears in concert, the sharpest music lovers tend to snap up the tickets in the blink of an eye, and it’s no different when he plays with us. The Hungarian National Philharmonic’s honorary chairman-conductor, who is nicknamed Kobaken in his homeland, will conduct Verdi’s Requiem in the closing concert of the concert series bearing his name. The series’s youngest performer is the 23-year-old Fülöp Ránki, who will be the soloist for the opening concert: Ránki will play Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on an evening which marks 73 years since the composer’s death.  To perform the piece, which even Bartók himself admitted is ‘fiendishly difficult’, requires great preparation, excellent temperament and virtuosity from every performer. Knowing the capabilities of these musicians, the opening concert is sure to be a great success!

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Zoltán Kocsis (1952-2016) was a huge fan of French classical music, so he would surely have been delighted that this series will open with a concert featuring the works of French composers. In all likelihood, Kocsis would have been similarly pleased not only with the other pieces included in this concert series, but also the performers, who include István Várdai,  the most sought-after Hungarian cellist in the world and player of the legendary Stradivarius cello, and the German conductor Hartmut Haenchen, celebrated star of the most prestigious concert halls and opera houses in the world.

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The János Ferencsik season ticket (1907-1984) is perfect for anybody interested in rarities and exploring various eras of music history. Highlights from the rich variety of genres on offer in this concert series include The Mermaid, a symphonic tale from the Austrian composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, monumental symphonies from Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski and Rachmaninov, and the performance of Nelson Mass, a grand ecclesiastical work from Dvořák, which will be conducted by the musical director Zsolt Hamar.

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The Ervin Lukács (1928-2011) concert series pays tribute to the Kossuth and Franz Liszt Prize-winning conductor, a worthy and outstanding musician, master artist and eternal member of the Hungarian State Opera, who also served as the Hungarian State Philharmonic’s musical director from 1991 to 1994. In addition to our musical director, Zsolt Hamar, individual concerts will be conducted by the equally internationally renowned Dutchman, Ton Koopman, the Frenchman Sylvain Cambreling, the German Hartmut Haenchen and Hannu Lintu, from Finland. The concert series is also made special by the fact that each concert will feature a piece of music from Beethoven.

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Csaba Somos, the choir master of the Hungarian National Choir:


“The 2018/19 season will be a real year of celebration for the Hungarian National Choir. This year will see the 90th birthday of the choir’s founder, Miklós Pászti, and a new Pászti concert series at the Italian Cultural Institute will begin in tribute to his memory.

The choir will take centre stage for this concert series, with the incredibly varied list of programmes, musicians, soloists and orchestras promising some wonderful performances. We are delighted that the Hungarian National Philharmonic will also take part in the opening concert on 18 October, so we can celebrate together with Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Ricercare, a composition from György Orbán, the outstanding Hungarian composer.

On 11 November, the Italian Cultural Institute will host two masterpieces of 20th century opera, with Poulenc’s The Human Voice and Emil Petrovics’s Lysistrata  performed under the baton of Zsolt Hamar.

A scintillating line-up for our 15 December concert awaits, featuring two different aspects of the Exodus story, with Schubert Miriam’s Song of Triumph and excerpts from the Rossini opera Moses in Egypt. Finally, János Ács will conduct a performance of Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle from the Italian repertoire.

2019 will kick off with a real adventure across different musical genres, featuring the world famous Modern Art Orchestra. A performance of Duke Ellington’s rarely heard Sacred Music promises to be a celebratory New Year’s event featuring the soloist Nikoletta Szőke.

The opportunity to perform a capella is incredibly important in extending the choir’s repertoire and building its identity.

On 23 February, the last event in this concert series will feature Viennese music, providing us with the chance to enjoy musical gems from Schubert to Schönberg, with Erwin Ortner as guest conductor, the musical director of the world famous Arnold Schönberg Choir. We look forward to seeing you for this year’s incredibly varied programme and hope you will enjoy the concerts from the rejuvenated Hungarian National Choir.”

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The Hungarian National Philharmonic Haydn Concert Series


This concert series is convenient for fans of Haydn who live in Budapest, as there will be no need to travel to Fertőd or Eisenstadt to enjoy a first-class performance of the classical master’s works in palatial surroundings. The venue for the Haydn concert series is the Festetics Palace, located in the area behind the Hungarian National Museum (in the ‘Palace District’). The jewel in the palace’s crown is its ‘mirror hall’, with inlaid parquet flooring and adorned with Venetian mirrors and crystal chandeliers, providing not only a feast for the eyes but also superb acoustics. The concert will feature a chamber orchestra formed from members of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, conducted by Zsolt Hamar.

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The names of the participants, the exclusive location and the enticing name of

Gin-Tonic Contemporary + Jazz all promise to catch the attention of jazz fans. Three superstars of the Hungarian musical scene – Béla Lakatos Szakcsi, László Dés and Miklós Lukács – will play alongside the musicians of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, whose own world is not an awful long way from jazz.

The venue for the concerts is the Castle Garden Bazaar, a big favourite of tourists and one of the best spots in the capital, where art and nature live in harmony.

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Three concerts and three Romantic masterpieces in the Müpa Budapest Festival Theatre, featuring the musicians of the Hungarian National Philharmonic and Dániel Dinyés as conductor and host. If you enjoy listening to great programmes enlivened with explanations from the conductor, you are sure to fall in love with this concert series.

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The Open Rehearsal Room series, which has been a tradition of the Hungarian National Philharmonic for many years, invites the public into the orchestra’s rehearsal room. These concerts are very special for the performers of the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Hungarian National Choir, as the chamber music format gives them a unique opportunity to forge a closer relationship with the audience.

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