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The Brave Classics

“We seek to convey to our audiences — in the most sincere and authentic way in the given moment — the experience afforded by our the first encounter with the piece which persists through dealing with it. I cannot think of a loftier ambition.” Zoltán Kocsis

The Hungarian National Philharmonic The Hungarian National Philharmonic is Hungary’s oldest professional orchestra and choir, and internationally one of Hungary’s most renowned formations. Our orchestra, founded in 1923, and our choir – which celebrated its 25th jubilee in 2010, comprise a unique musical workshop. Since its establishment, we have given thousands of highly-successful concerts around Hungary and abroad, in co-operation with world-famous musicians.

The unique style of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Zoltán Kocsis, General Music Director, consciously builds and forges the orchestra, in an effort to achieve a readily distinguishable style and sonority. The single underlying concept is the pursuit of authenticity and the most profound knowledge of the composers and their works. That is what constitutes artistic freedom.

“An orchestra is good if it has its own style and profile, which can only be guaranteed by the steady work of a single director. I, for example, spend 35 weeks with my orchestra annually. The result will become audible sooner or later.” Zoltán Kocsis “This was a superior orchestra: sensuous strings, extremely disciplined and precise winds, lower brass to die for. The playing of the entire ensemble was so expert...” Frederick L. Kirshnit,, February 2003

“The vocal disposition of the choir, its instrumental-like rhythmic skills, accuracy, homogenous sonority and rapid adaptability enable the ensemble to perform any work whatsoever.” Mátyás Antal “The National Choir sings the impossible...” István Nagy Dauerni, Café Momus, January 2010

The Hungarian National Philharmonic is the herald of Hungarian music We attach great importance to popularising pieces by contemporary composers and in particular contemporary Hungarian composers (Bartók, Ligeti, Kurtág, Farkas, Jeney, etc.). We also have a special fondness for presenting pieces that are rarely played, hoping that in our interpretation, new and unusual sonorities and undeservedly forgotten pieces will also find their way to an open-minded audience.

The composer György Kurtág wrote the following about the concert given for his 80th birthday in the Guest Book of the Hungarian National Choir:

“With Mátyás Antal and Zoltán Kocsis, all the parts of the work, never previously accomplished, were heard. My thanks.” György Kurtág

The Hungarian National Philharmonic is the most authentic interpreter of Bartók’s works In December 2006 the publication of the complete works of Bartók’s was relaunched by Hungaroton Classic, with Kocsis as music director. Sixteen CDs were produced by March 2010. The reception of the works in Hungary and abroad has been remarkable. The awards that the albums have won include eight Supersonic and two Choc awards, one Golden Tuning Fork award, an Excellentia, numerous Hungarian awards and the classical music Fonogram Award, given for the first time in 2009. In September 2010, the 16th disc was elected Disc of the Month by critics at BBC Music Magazine. (Details on,

“Suffice it to say that Kocsis and the Hungarian National Philharmonic play this music to the manner born.” Graham Williams,, 18 February 2007 “Kocsis — like a reincarnation of Bartók — is capable of seeing the Bartókian oeuvre in its entirety, exploring the connections between smaller hidden works and the greatest ones, which are not always so obvious.” András Csont, Revizor, November 2008 “The performance, too, is utterly compelling. Kocsis steadfast refusal to let the tension sag coupled with an urgent sense of forward momentum actually serve to intensify the work’s feeling of anxiety, and these qualities are fully sustained in the faster second and fourth movements where the playing is characterised by tremendous rhythmic energy and exhilaration.” Erik Levi BBC Music Magazine, September 2010

The Hungarian National Philharmonic inspires for more The style, sonority and instrumental playing of the Hungarian National Philharmonic often inspire Zoltán Kocsis to perform works with a large orchestra — by Debussy, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Kodály and Bartók — that were not originally composed for orchestra. „The richness and magic of Rachmaninov’s ‘15 Songs’ emerged in Kocsis’s transcription. Rarely played and sung, the songs were given a new body by Zoltán Kocsis.” E. Figura, Pester Lloyd, 11 May 2010

Our traditions Every summer for the past 50 years now we have given an open-air concert series in the gorgeous park of the Brunswick palace at Martonvásár, paying tribute to Beethoven’s oeuvre.

“These evenings at Martonvásár are not ordinary concerts, as they are not ‘only’ about music; Beethoven’s severe-looking bust creates an altar out of the podium where the ceremony is celebrated by the National Philharmonic, and from which one cannot simply go home just like that after the Ite Missa Est.” István Dauner Nagy, Café Momus, 20 July 2005

Afternoon chamber music concert in the palace grounds

Old and young play together Within the framework of an agreement with the Liszt Academy of Music, young musicians who are about to be complete their degree participate in the work of the orchestra, which affords them an insight into the pleasure and rules of playing music together under the guidance of the music director. For the best musicians, this of course provides an opportunity to co-operate with the orchestra later on. At our season ticket concerts, Zoltán Kocsis has introduced talented young soloists for whom the concert hall stage at the Palace of Arts and the audience of the Hungarian National Philharmonic represent a highstandard début.

Our audiences Our season ticket holders insist on the highest standards they have come to take for granted. In addition to the standard repertoire, well-established in concert podiums and therefore ensuring success, connoisseurs in our audience like novelties, curiosities, the important works of our age as well as pieces that are not included in the repertoire of other orchestras due to the difficulty and complexity of the scores. Educating a demanding audience for the future involves great responsibility, since many people gain their first musical experiences at our youth concerts.

“A good children’s concert — I think — has to be something like what they do. Looking around I see engrossed children’s faces — like during the opening pictures of the Magic Flute, in Bergman’s film.” Márton Kerékfy, Fidelio, 16 February 2007

Publications in audio and visual media We can be heard and seen, live or recorded, on every major European classical music media channel through the Association of European Broadcasting Companies, including among others Mezzo TV and MR3 (FM 105.3 in Hungary).

Our home is the Palace of Arts In 2005 the orchestra — along with the choir and the music scores library — moved to its new home in the Palace of Arts. The orchestra gave its first concert there on 8 January 2005. Since then, joint concerts and events with the Palace of Arts have been regularly organised.

Foyer, Palace of Arts

Béla Bartók National Concert Hall

Portrait gallery from the past and the present

Ernest Ansermet


Otto Klemperer

Sir John Barbirolli


Antal Dorรกti

Jรกnos Ferencsik

Lorin Maazel

Yehudi Menuhin


Ruggiero Ricci


Yuri Simonov



Claudio Abbado

Christoph von

Zubin Mehta

Ondrej Lenard


Gidon Kremer

Vadim Repin

Arcadi Volodos

Gilbert Varga

Jรถrg Widmann

Andrea Rost


Sergei Krylov


The history of the orchestra Our history began in 1923. Soon the orchestra became one of the focal points of Budapest’s musical life. The death of János Ferencsik (1984) marked the end of a significant era in the life of the orchestra that had started in 1952. In 1987 the Japanese conductor Kobayashi Ken-Ichiro, who is very popular in Hungary, took over the orchestra for 10 years. In 1997 Zoltán Kocsis became General Music Director of the orchestra. The first recording of the new era featured transcriptions by Kocsis of works by Debussy and Ravel. This recording scooped an award „The Hungarian Classic Record of the Year” by the Hungarian music journal Gramofon. Our latest album – in addition to the new Bartók series that has gained international acclaim – was recorded in 2010, and contains a live performance of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride overture and Mahler’s First Symphony – in its original five movement version. The Hungarian National Philharmonic had successful concerts in venues ranging from the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo through the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, the Megaron Musicos in Athens, to the Colmar Festival. The concert held in New York in February 2003 was awarded the Lully Award for the best concert of the year by the critics of the high-ranking internet classical music journal ConcertoNet. Since 2005 the orchestra has given some 90 concerts in European countries as well as in Japan. The orchestra is also a regular guest at foreign festivals.

Zoltán Kocsis conductor, concert pianist, composer Kocsis’s career started at the age of 18 when he won first prize at the Hungarian Radio’s Beethoven Competition. Soon he made his way onto the international concert stages, giving concerts in all major musical centres on five continents. He performed four-hand concerts in France together with Sviatoslav Richter at the latter’s invitation. Kocsis appeared in concerts as a soloist with numerous leading orchestras of the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. He received great acclaim when he continued his solo career as one of the founding members of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which also marked the start of a career as a conductor. He was appointed music director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997. In his work, apart from conducting, he is increasingly involved in orchestration and composition. Zoltán Kocsis is regular guest at master courses and international festivals.

“The piano affords immense opportunities. However, although the repertoire of the piano is wide, one might venture to say that the orchestral repertoire is even greater and more interesting. One way or another, I have always kept looking beyond my own path.” Zoltán Kocsis

Hungarian National Philharmonic at Bartók Béla National Concert Hall

The Hungarian National Choir The National Choir has performed the great choral works of music history, and has given numerous contemporary works their world or Hungarian premières. It has been lead by a great many excellent conductors, including Antal Doráti, Péter Eötvös, Ádám Fischer, Michail Yurowsky, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lawrence Foster, Nicola Luisotti, Yuri Simonov and Tamás Vásáry. The National Choir has brought to the Hungarian audiences numerous pieces composed for choirs, including works by Hungarian composers György Kurtág, Zoltán Jeney, Zsolt Durkó, Ferenc Farkas, Kamilló Lendvay, György Ligeti, György Orbán. In addition to appearing in Hungary, the choir performs extensively at international events.

“I do not know if Webern ever considered the future performers of his cantata, but it is a fact that a choir has to enter self-confidently (forte dinamica) without any orchestral accompaniment or preliminary auxiliary sound and after nearly four beats of a cappella sections all four parts end up on notes that we can also hear in the orchestra. It would be impossible to land a choir in a more exposed situation than this, but the members of the National Choir did not even appear to be making any particular effort while accomplishing this task.” Szabolcs Molnár, Muzsika, March 2004

Chorus Master, conductor and flutist Mátyás Antal The Chorus Master was born into a musicians’ family (his father was István Antal, an excellent concert pianist of international renown). He became acquainted with all the different musical instruments at an early age. After obtaining his degrees he was a flutist in the Hungarian State Orchestra for almost 20 years. Since 1990 he has been the choral director of the Hungarian National Choir. As a conductor he has performed in nearly all countries of Europe as well as in Japan and China and he has made numerous recordings.

The Brave Classics The Hungarian National Philharmonic, under the baton of Zoltán Kocsis, gave Schoenberg’s early work Gurre-Lieder its Hungarian première. The orchestra played all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, together with young students, in the concert hall of the Conservatory in November 2009 between 3 pm and 11 pm taking only two breaks at “Beethoven Non-stop” concert. For years there has been great interest in our concert and semi-staged opera performances. For instance, after forty-four years, Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande was revived by Kocsis at the Miskolc International Opera Festival on 15 June 2007. The Hungarian première of Schoenberg’s opera Moses and Aaron was held in Miskolc in 2009 and subsequently in Budapest in 2010, completed with the third act composed by Zoltán Kocsis (based on Schoenberg’s drafts). Richard Strauss’s opera Daphne was performed at the Miskolc International Opera Festival in 2010 with great success, and concert performances followed in Budapest in the 2011-2012 season. We are also pleased to make forays into other genres, including an orchestra-accompanied puppet show, and the Haydn Crossover – where world-famous jazz musicians improvised on Haydn’s music. The performance of The Miraculous Mandarin, accompanied by a spectacular animation film made by Géza M. Tóth, a professor at the London Royal College of Art, to Bartók’s music was a special night.

“If there existed an interpretation history for Pelléas in Hungary, and if this opera had not only been performed at great intervals, we could say that Zoltán Kocsis’ work marked a turn. There is hardly another musician in Hungary today who knows Debussy’s world and cultural context so thoroughly and in such depth as he.” Géza Fodor, Élet és Irodalom, 22 June, 2007 “We may as well label the first symphony textbookish, the second humorous, the third pretentious, the fourth careful, the fifth cheap, the sixth long-spun, the seventh simple, the eighth perfect, and the ninth is just ‘The Ninth’, for which there is no attribute, as it stands above all basic types or basic attitudes.” Zoltán Kocsis on Beethoven’s symphonies

Andrea Rost and Zoltán Kocsis during a rehearsal

The Nutcracker’s puppets

W.Schöne (Moses) and D.Brenna (Aaron) during a final rehearsal

Vadim Repin with the Hungarian National Philharmonic

“To be able to duly appreciate what he has just done as a composer and as a conductor, i.e. without using hackneyed phrases and with cold objectivity, I must quote Moses. The words are missing. “O Wort, du Wort, dass mir fehlst” Sándor Kovács Hungarian Radio, New Music Chronicle, 24 January, 2010 “The fact Zoltán Kocsis and the Hungarian National Philharmonic achieved this performance – of Moses and Aaron – goes to show how painstakingly they care about maintaining the highest standards.” Dr. Christian Meyer, Director of Arnold Schoenberg Centre Wien “Performing together with Zoltán Kocsis and Hungarian National Philharmonic means a higher level of quality altogether.” Daniel Brenna (Aaron) 2010 January “Zoltán Kocsis does, and demands from others, such a meticulous job, something I have never heard before. I am amazed by the experience with the National Philharmonic.” Wolfgang Schöne (Moses) 2010 képaláírás képaláírás képaláírás

“The real star of the show was Zoltán Kocsis, who conducted the National Philharmonic and Chorus with an eye to every delicious detail of this ravishing score.” Brendan G. Carrol, Kulturissimo, July 2010 “Andrea Rost and Zoltán Kocsis have created this joint performance-work with such sovereignty which can only be delivered by humbleness. The conductor was contemplating at close quarters but at the same time was guiding the music from some secure height, unfolding its beauty, while not reducing it into decorativity, re-drawing the image-like character of the piece with a sharp pen, while not degrading it into illustrativity. It made one think rather than feel – wholly in the spirit of this weird work.” Tibor Tallián, Muzsika, September 2010

Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra

Hungarian National Choir

General Music Director: Zoltán Kocsis Artistic Adviser: Tamás Bátor Orchestra Senior manager: László Samu e-mail:

Chorus Master: Mátyás Antal Piano Accompanist and Coach: Dóra Bizják Choir Manager: Antal Tóth e-mail:

First Violins




Imre Kovács - Principal

Márta Oláh - Leader

Attila Falvay, Jenő Koppándi

Anita Szabó - Principal

Ágnes Perlaki Baánné, Judit Blank, Edit Cziffra

Gergely Kuklis

Zsófia Embey-Isztin, Irén Móré

Márta Csikós, Eszter Dóri

Ferenc Balogh, Ferenc Bangó, János Bodor

Kornélia Gáspár

Zsuzsa Edelényi Szabó, Katalin Hilczmajer

Gábor Bohus, Attila Boniszlavszky

Tünde Herman Kapócsné

Sándor Déri, László Fülöp, János Horváth


Edit Károly, Katalin Kazai, Anikó Kemenyeczky

Éva Tóth Kissné, Károly Meleg

Béla Horváth - Principal

Ágnes Kristófi, Anna Krizsán, Gabriella Marton

Rita Miczki, Zsuzsanna Molnár, Ildikó Nemes

Eszter Pap - Principal

Mária Mazsaroff, Andrea Pintes, Erika Somogyi

Dániel Papp, Katalin Pröhle, Péter Sárosi

Edit Budai, Ágnes Kubina

Károlyné Stiedl, Ágnes Szalai, Judit Szántó

Second Violins


Klára Véber, Andrea Simonffy Véghné

Gizella Szekeres Herendiné - Principal

Zsolt Szatmári - Principal

Miklósné Végső

Ágnes Herbály - Principal

József Tönköly - Principal

Gábor Bali, Gábor Bodor

József Németh, György Salamon

Edit Szappanos, Cecilia Széll, Katalin Tóth

Mária Marcella Detvay, Éva Dúlfalvy

Alts Katalin Elláné Bodonyi - Leader

Zoltán Horváth, Réka Koltai, János Mózer


Istvánné Ambrózy, Kornélia Bakos

Katalin Németh, Román Oszecsinszkij

Pál Bokor - Principal

Zsuzsa Barlay, Adrienn Szabó Bartosné

Ferenc Sánta, Krisztina Szabó

Sándor Tamás - Principal

Tünde Estefán, Márta Fülöp

Lilla Szentmihályi, Bernadett Szegleti Szűcsné

Klára Börzsönyi, Zsolt Szabó

Dóra Galgóczy-Boros, Julianna Hiszem



Hilda Klinger, Andrea Lehőcz, Eszter Puskás

Zoltán Gál - Principal

Zoltán Molnár - Principal

Pálné Regenhart, Csilla Saárossy

György Porzsolt - Principal

László Tóth - Principal

Katalin Silló Tomposné, Renáta Tóth

Enikő Balogh, Zsuzsanna Bársony

Zsolt Skultéty, Zsolt Spitzer

Ildikó Hajdú Horváthné, Klára Juhász P.


Sándor Kertész, György Márkus László Rácz, Ágnes Reményi


Dóra Bizják – Leader

András Rudolf

Jenő Kácsik - Principal

Lajos Bella, Sándor Boros, István Bundovics

Ferenc Kócziás - Principal

Zoltán Czier, József Csapó

Ákos Galla, Balázs Kerényi, Béla Koppányi

József Csernus, Sándor Fogarassy


Zoltán Gavodi, Péter Gergely, András Hajnal

Tamás Koó - Principal Rezső Pertorini - Principal

French hornes

László Kálmán, László Madarász

Zsuzsa Bajner, Zsolt Bartha, György Deák

László Gál – Principal

Brunó Mocskonyi, Gyula Mukli

Beatrix Fazekas, Sándor Harangozó

László Rákos - Principal

András Regenhart, László Tóth

Szilvia Lantos, Tünde Lukács

Rajmund Andó, Balázs Borbély, Dávid Kutas

Ferenc Tőkés-Bodor, István Viszló

Mariann Pleszkán, János Zsoldos

Tibor Maruzsa, Tamás Zempléni

Basses Double Basses


Pál Bencsik - Leader

Péter Kubina - Principal

László Szabó - Principal

Gyula Berényi, István Gergely, Gáspár Domján Csaba Gerzsenyi, László Hatvany

Iván Sztankov - Principal Gábor Dévényi, Ferenc Kovács A.


Csaba Henter, László Ladjánszki, László Lisztes

Zoltán Kozák, János Mészáros

Gergely Bíró – Principal

László Mokán, János Nagy, Sándor Pásztor

Tibor Zsákai

Mihály Kaszás - Principal

György Silló, Róbert Standovár

Szabolcs Joó, Nándor Weisz

dr.József Szécsi, István Tisza,Tamás Tóth Imre Végh, Gábor Wágner

Harp Deborah Sipkay - Principal

Contacts: Head of Music Library: Rita Kaizinger e-mail: Director General: Géza Kovács e-mail: Financial Director: Csaba Szilárd e-mail: Zoltán Kocsis’s Personal Assistant: Rita Bauer e-mail: Manager of International Affairs: Krisztina Kovács e-mail:

Concert and Program Manager: Aida Buzás e-mail: Marketing: Zsuzsanna Horváth e-mail: Press, Friends: Julianna Bukta e-mail: Customer Relationship: Anikó Koczkás e-mail:

Hungarian National Philharmonic Nonprofit Ltd. Budapest, Komor Marcell str. 1. H-1095 Phone: +36 1 411 6600, Fax: +36 1 411 6699 e-mail:, web: Published by Géza Kovács - General Director, Hungarian National Philharmonic Edited by Zsuzsanna Horvath, Marketing Cover: Zsolt Skultéty, Nándor Weisz, musicians of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Graphic Design and tipography: Réka Varga and Grant Advertising Agency Photo: Andrea Felvégi - portrait, András Bozsó, Zsuzsa Pető, Zoltán Pólya - MÜPA Date of end: 30 November 2010

“A company of musicians that have become relatively accustomed to each other is capable of playing music together at any time at a certain level, but due to its nature, mass and inertia, it is not capable of serving a single high-class concept all along. That is where the conductor comes in.â€? ZoltĂĄn Kocsis

Hungarian Philharmonic