...a country (Hungary) whose population, even today, is barely over ten million has produced so many musicians and so much outstanding music. I am grateful for having been born and trained there.

Sir Georg Solti

This year’s world Bartók Competition and Festival has begun

9 September 2019

An open-air festival held in Liszt Ferenc Square on Sunday ushered in this year’s third World Bartók Competition. The order in which competitors will appear in the preliminaries was decided on the opening day of the series of events organized by the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music.

“It is enormously gratifying to see that the World Bartók Competition has become a household word and that it is now recognized as a prestigious international contest,” Dr Andrea Vigh , Rector of the Academy, noted in her opening address for this year’s event at a festival held in Liszt Ferenc Square. In recalling the initial planning for this major event, she observed that “Béla Bartók is a universal musician and scholar, so it was clear that this competition could only be named for him”. On officially opening the World Competition, she wished the competitors and the prestigious international jury every success and an unforgettable experience. Speaking over his phone in Hungarian, Kenji Watanabe, the world-famous Japanese pianist and chairman of the jury, welcomed participants and encouraged competitors to show their strength, forget about results and focus on the music alone.


Photo: Liszt Academy/Andrea Felvégi


In keeping with tradition, the name of the competitor to play first during the preliminaries to be held on Monday and Tuesday was drawn by the youngest competitor, Elemér Balázs, who is to begin his studies at the Academy this autumn. The name he picked was Laura Milisavljevic (Serbia/Hungary), so she will play at 2 PM on 9 September. Then, as prescribed in the regulations, competitors will follow one after the other till the last name is reached in alphabetical order, at which point the order continues from the beginning alphabetically. 


Photo: Liszt Academy/Andrea Felvégi


Competitors spent the morning of the opening day touring the capital and receiving an introduction to the world of the greatest Hungarian composer of the 20th century by László Stachó, lecturer and researcher of the Academy of Music and the Faculty of Musicology at the University of Szeged. The tour included venues relevant to Bartók’s life, such as his memorial house on Csalán Road in the leafy Budapest hills, displaying his own furniture and relics he had brought back from his tours in search of folk songs.

In a special session of the Academy of Liszt Kids, children will be introduced to Béla Bartók, the folk song collector and composer, through games and thematic quizzes.

Outside the main entrance to the Academy of Music, a mini-concert was held by the institution’s students, alumni and lecturers.  A selection of folk songs collected by Béla Bartók was played by the following students and teachers from the Folk Song Department: Krisztián Kiss  (recorder), Balázs Istvánfi (bagpipe), Balázs Vizeli (violin),  Alinka Blumenschein (viola) and Máté Tóth  (double bass).  Bartók reflections and jazz improvisations were performed by Petra Várallyay (violin) and Sára Bolyki (vocals) as well as students from the Jazz Department: Péter Cseh (guitar), Dániel Arday (double bass), Ambrus Richter (drums) and Zsolt  Farkas (piano). Other compositions by Bartók were played by Lili Farkas, Barnabás Kérges, Ádám Menyhei and Máté Puskás (piano), Julianna Gaál, Edina Pinkert and Anna Lilla Székely (violin), as well as Ramóna Rádli (cello).


Photo: Liszt Academy/Andrea Felvégi