A conductor, composer, opera director, thinker, and educator anchored in the tradition of the great musical polymaths, Iván Fischer is considered one of the most visionary musicians of our time. He has developed several new concert formats and reformed the structure and working method of the symphony orchestra. In the mid-1980s he founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra, where he has since introduced and established numerous innovations. He envisions a pool of musicians serving the community in various combinations and musical styles.
He has founded a number of festivals, including the Budapest Mahlerfest, the “Bridging Europe” festival, and the Vicenza Opera Festival. The World Economic Forum presented him with the Crystal Award for his achievements in fostering international cultural relations. He was principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, Opéra National de Lyon, and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the latter appointing him conductor laureate. Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra named him honorary guest conductor following many decades of working together.
Iván Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello in Budapest before joining the legendary conducting class of Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. After spending two years as assistant to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, he launched his international career as winner of the Rupert Foundation conducting competition in London. Following guest appearances at international opera houses, he founded the Iván Fischer Opera Company (IFOC). His staging always sets as its goal an organic unity between music and theater. IFOC productions have been received with great acclaim in recent years in New York, Edinburgh, Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Geneva, and Budapest.
Iván Fischer has been active as a composer since 2004. His opera The Red Heifer made headlines across the world, his children’s opera The Gruffalo enjoyed numerous revivals in Berlin, and his most frequently performed work, Eine Deutsch-Jiddische Kantate, has been performed and recorded in several countries.
Iván Fischer is founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society and patron of the British Kodály Academy. The French government honored him as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. In 2006 he was decorated with the Hungarian Kossuth Prize, in 2011 with the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award and the Dutch Ovatie Prize, and in 2013 he was named an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
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