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 Fischer 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, 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.
Fischer studied piano, violin, and cello in Budapest before he joined Hans Swarowsky’s legendary conducting class in Vienna. After spending two years as assistant to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, he launched his international career when he won the Rupert Foundation conducting competition in London.
After various 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. In recent years IFOC productions have been received with great acclaim 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, and the children’s opera The Gruffalo enjoyed numerous revivals in Berlin. His most frequently performed work, Eine Deutsch-Jiddische Kantate, has been performed and recorded in several countries.
Fischer is founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society and patron of the British Kodály Academy. The French government honoured him as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. He has received the Hungarian Kossuth Prize (2006) and the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award and the Dutch Ovatie Prize (both in 2011), and he was named an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London (2013).
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