The most important class, however, for me and for hundreds of other Hungarian musicians, was the chamber-music class. From about the age of fourteen, and until graduation from the Academy, all instrumentalists except the heavy-brass players and percussionists had to participate in this course. Presiding over it for many years was the composer Leó Weiner, who thus exercised an enormous influence on three generations of Hungarian musicians.

Sir Georg Solti


16 June 2021

The online programmes of the first ever Day of Hungarian Classical Music event, held on May 30 - the birthday of the late Zoltán Kocsis – attracted an outstanding number of viewers.

The series of events organised jointly by the Liszt Academy and the National Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off on Tuesday, May 25. The event, which ran through June 9, featured concerts (most of which can be viewed at any time online) performed by twenty music schools and seventeen professional ensembles from all over the country. The list of participants is available on the  website.

The programmes, broadcast on various online platforms, attracted more than ten thousand viewers mainly from Hungary, but a large number of music lovers joined in from the USA, the United Kingdom, the Central European region and Finland.


photo: János Posztós


The online gala evening, held on May 30, featured the concert of the National Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Gergely Madaras and cellist Gergely Devich. The event was viewed by approximately 3,100 spectators from Hungary and abroad. In addition to works by Liszt, Erkel, Bartók, Kodály,Tibor Serly and Dohnányi, the concert's programme included the premiere of Symphonic Fantasy, a piece by Liszt Academy Vice President and Head of Department Gyula Fekete, composed for this occasion.


photo: János Posztós


 Dr. Andrea Vigh, President of the Liszt Academy, emphasized in her opening speech that Zoltán Kocsis was an exceptional pianist, a conductor with impressive knowledge, a music director with a special vision, a passionate teacher and a highly educated music publicist. It is a great pleasure that, at the initiative of the Liszt Academy and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and with the support of the Ministry of Human Resources, a new tradition is being established on his birthday, an occasion that Kocsis celebrated with a charity concert every year, she added. The President stressed that the works of Hungarian composers had always played a central role in the life of Kocsis, who considered it his mission to promote contemporary music. As the head of the Liszt Academy, Vigh commended the international reputation of Hungarian composers and musicians as an extraordinary cultural standard.


Domonkos Herboly, Director General of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, said in a conversation broadcast during intermission that the aim of the event was to nurture traditions, learn from the work of Zoltán Kocsis and ensure the future of Hungarian classical music. He noted that it is necessary to promote contemporary composers, which is why organizers decided to invite composers to write new pieces to be performed at this event in the coming years, just as a new composition was born for the first gala this year. The Director General thanked Dr. Andrea Vigh for the idea to hold a celebratory day and stressed that all the professionals invited to participate expressed their joy concerning the initiative.


photo: János Posztós


During the conversation, several musicians who worked with Zoltán Kocsis shared their thoughts on the late artist. Kossuth Prize-winning cellist Miklós Perényi said that his relationship with Kocsis was driven by mutual respect and friendship and expressed his hope that the representatives of music life will communicate with each other in the same direct and honest manner. Percussionist Zoltán Rácz, co-founder and artistic director of the Kossuth Prize-winning Amadinda ensemble, stressed that Kocsis was an inspiration for his relentless commitment to quality. As Kocsis himself said: there is no perfection, but there is the pursuit. Meritorious artist and violinist-conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy emphasized that Kocsis set an exceptionally high standard in all matters related to music, art and spirituality. Recalling his joint work with Kocsis, Liszt and Prima Prize-winning cellist István Várdai highlighted that the example set by Kocsis still provides a basis for him when it comes to making music. In his video message, Kossuth Prize-winning violinist Barnabás Kelemen emphasized that he had a close relationship with Kocsis for almost twenty years both as an artist and a friend.


Zoltán Kocsis. Photo: Gábor Fejér


In his greetings sent to the organizers of the event, Kossuth Prize-winning pianist Dezső Ránki, said that people need celebrations more than ever in these days affected by the pandemic. He recalled that Zoltán Kocsis put his exceptional and manifold talent in the service of music; for him the most important thing was to perform masterpieces at the highest possible standard, to promote them and to elevate musical life to a higher level.

Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter wrote in a message sent to the organizers of the gala event that Zoltán Kocsis had been a musical role model for her since her childhood, and she has never stopped listening to Kocsis’s Bartók and Debussy recordings. She noted that they had the opportunity to work together several times, and as she recalled, Kocsis’s critical remarks were often cruel, but at the same time excellent opportunities for learning and development. “His generosity, his musical genius, his thoughts and ideas, his trust in me live on in my memories, they are my most valuable treasures,” concluded Ingrid Fliter.

One of the highlights of the event series was the joint performance of the Finnish Kodály Society and the East Helsinki Music Institute on Friday, May 28, from 5 p.m. Numerous spectators from Finland followed the event online, leaving many enthusiastic, appreciative comments. The organization, which consists of members strongly attached to Hungary, the Kodály Method and Hungarian classical music, made the recording of the concert featuring works by Bartók and Kodály at the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Helsinki and at the Lauttasaari School of Music.