International Bartók Seminar and Festival
10-19 July, 2014 Szombathely
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History - Overview

The Philharmonia Budapest Concert and Festival Agency is Hungary’s oldest in the field and yet it is still among the most acclaimed professional concert and festival agencies in the country. It rose to life as National Philharmonia in 1952 and has organized classical concerts throughout the whole country for decades being the only such agency in Hungary. With many thousands of concerts behind its back, Philharmonia has changed into a limited liability company doing pro-bono work in 1997 and it operates like that ever since.

In the past few years we have organized around 460 concerts a year both in Budapest and in the Western Transdanubian region. We are strongly dedicated to the musical education of the youth, to organizing contemporary concerts and helping young talents with the start-up of their artistic career. Besides our regular season ticket concerts that we organize both for adults and young people, we reckon, that our work is most showy at our traditional music festivals, which are highly acclaimed by international musicians as well. These are the 35 years old Music of Our Age contemporary music festival, the Early Music Days festival in June and the International Bartók Seminar and Festival hosted by Szombathely in July. These festivals offer various master course opportunities as well. Another of such events is our International Music Competition of Budapest in September, which looks back as much as fifty years already. Detailed programs can be found under

The International Bartók Seminar was first held in 1967. By 1985 it expanded with a festival and took the “Bartók – New Music” motto and has become one of Hungary’s most acclaimed musical events. The seminar’s teachers and the festival’s performers are Hungarian and foreign artists, art teachers and ensembles. During the past couple of decades the event was marked by such musicians’ names like Zoltán Kocsis, Péter Eötvös, György Kurtág, Heinz Holliger, Zoltán Peskó, Miklós Perényi, György Pauk, György Ligeti or John Cage. A specialty of our event is, that besides the concerts and master courses like piano, violin, chamber music, singing, composition and conducting, it is made up of other programs like musicology lectures, folk music programs and other yearly changing related programs (movie screenings, exhibitions, round-table discussions, etc.) The young musicians and students of musical institutes are not only able to learn about Bartók’s music, but they can meet the 20th century’s and contemporary music’s repertoire and learn about their special instrument-handling techniques, which is missing from today’s musical education. This repertoire is what characterizes the concerts of the festival, too.

Our company has been organizing classical concerts and festivals since its foundation almost 60 years ago, so we believe we have great experience and expertise in organizing cultural events. In parallel to the International Bartók Seminar and Festival, we have been organizing the Music of Our Age Festival Budapest for years too, so we have an extensive knowledge of today’s music. Being a member of many professional organizations, having participated in exchange programs and having accepted invitations by other European organizations, we have a great insight of Europe’s music life. We also took part in many networking and exchange programs. When putting together the seminar’s and the festival’s programs, we try to keep up with the international trends, follow the anniversaries of the composers or their works, paying attention to any actualities, etc. However, execution of these ideas are sometimes put to a halt do to insufficient financial resources.

The International Bartók Seminar and Festival’s master courses’ and programs of the concerts primarily place Bartók’s art and the contemporary music’s repertoire in focus. These are then combined with other authentic Hungarian, Slav, Bulgarian, Romanian and Slovak folk music, which made a great impression on Bartók.

The leading world-famous professors of the master courses and the performers of the concerts come not only from Europe, but from numerous other countries of the world to Szombathely, to introduce the Hungarian and foreign audience to the music life’s novelties and significant works.

The International Bartók Seminar and Festival is a classical music festival, which looks back 30 years and it is yearly organized, always in the middle of July. The specialty of the event is, is that it combines Bartók’s life-works with introducing new music. Béla Bartók’s greatness in his arts and his intellectual, his most important works and the musicology researches’ findings are interpreted by the best Hungarian and foreign artists, ensembles and musicologists.

On the seminar, which is organized during the summer giving plenty of time for participants for thorough work and practising, participants can study from leading world-famous professors on courses like piano, violin, cello, chamber music, singing, composition, conducting and many different wind instrument courses.

The International Bartók Seminar and Festival’s basic aim is the preservation of the Bartók Heritage and supporting new music’s aspirations. We consider it an important task to open up space for new music, to living composers’ works and to the experimentation of the youth. The appr. 100 young musicians and students of musical institutes can learn from the best musicians of the world: they can get to know the contemporary repertoire, its special instrument-handling techniques and learn about musicology’s newest findings. Besides getting richer with unforgettable memories, their view broadens and the experience they gain they can put towards their further education or they can use it in their works, experimentation.

The event has many times inspired composers to compose new pieces; it has inspired performers to learn new works; others have finally formed a permanent group from their ad hoc festival gatherings, like THReNSeMBle. There are also many-many cooperations, which ‘were born’ on our event, like the art projects of the Eötvös Institute, the Savaria Symphonic Orchestra and the Bartók Festival or the educational projects between the Ferenc Liszt University of Music, the Béla Bartók Secondary School of Music, the Savaria University Centre and the Bartók Seminar.

Every year we spread out a little questionnaire among the master courses’ and the festival’s attendees and we try to consider their opinion when organizing the following year’s event.

The International Bartók Seminar and Festival is made up of a series of concerts and master courses, which relate to one another and complement each other. The specialty of the event is, is that it combines the performing artist side with the strongly relating musicology side.

The main aim of the event is to establish opportunities for the highest standard of musical education and making debuting available to career-starters by organizing and allowing unique and special musical performances.

The festival is always accompanied by several relating programs, like exhibitions, premiéres, work shops, open-air concerts, open folk dance halls, movie screenings, live radio broadcasting and round-table discussions.

The events’ programs are always set around a well-considered theme, which is always a segment from Bartók’s art, life-work. So based on this we already had themes like „Musical Stage” or the „Far East”, or improvisation and next year the theme will be „Bartók – predecessors, peers, followers”.

Emberi Erőforrások MinisztériumaNKASzombathely
SSOMTA BTK Zenetudományi Intézet 20- 21. századi Magyar Zenei Archívum és Kutatócsoport
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