Christmas with Müpa

Art belongs to Everyone

No one will miss out this Christmas!
 

Although this Christmas will be different from those of years past, in these extraordinary times it may be even more important than ever for us to look inwards and to each other as we prepare for the holidays. To contribute to the joy of anticipation, each day between 1 and 24 December, we will present our viewers with the gift of an item of digital content – from now on, available at any time – so that they can take part in the inimitable Müpa Budapest experience even at home.

Certain recordings will only be made available to members of the Müpa+ membership programme, so if you have not yet signed up to enjoy its many advantages, you can register for free

For details, consult our Facebook page, which you should check regularly, as every day a window will open in our special Advent calendar to reveal a new surprise. We know, of course, that nothing can ever replace the live concert experience, but one day we'll have the chance to meet again in person. Surprise your loved ones with Müpa Budapest gift vouchers, which they will be able to redeem when we can once again safely enjoy spending time together. And in addition, from 26 November until 24 December for every 10.000 HUF you spend on gift vouchers, we will give you another one in the amount of 1000 HUF as a gift.

Come and join us as we get in tune for the holidays together: enjoy the recordings!

We are opening our digital media library on 3 January!

The 24th of December has finally arrived, and on this Christmas Eve we have a truly diverse and exciting virtual gift to place under our dear viewers' Christmas trees. The final surprise on our Advent calendar is nothing less than to give everyone access to all of the recordings in our digital media library until 3 January 2021! What exactly does this mean? It means that during this period, you can watch our videos without registering. Of course, anyone who has not yet happened to join our free loyalty programme will find it worthwhile taking the time to register free of charge with a few clicks, which will enable them to continue to enjoy access to our outstandingly high quality concert videos and audio recordings after 3 January. We hope you enjoy the programmes and wish you happy and peaceful holidays!

Angelic Voices – Advent concert by the Cantemus Choir

23 December 2020, Wednesday 7:30 pm

Named Müpa Budapest's Ensemble of the Season for the 2017/18 season, the Cantemus Choir has amassed numerous competition victories, awards and distinctions to attest to the quality of their artistic activity, as do any of their concerts, albums or radio and television recordings. The programme for this Advent concert, which ranges from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina to John Ritter, indicates through its stylistic richness just how skilled, versatile and flexible the Cantemus choirs are. At this concert, the joyful anticipation of Christmas will be elevated to the angelic spheres by the human voice. Constructing harmony of surprising clarity as they converge into a single atmospheric arc in the mystery of Advent will be works from musical worlds as different as those of Heinrich Schütz, Benjamin Britten, Handel and Miklós Kocsár. Come and join us as we relive a concert that was festive in every sense of the word!

St. Thomas Boys' Choir of Leipzig

A truly festive concert for connoisseurs! This unique boarding school with a student body of one hundred youngsters between the ages of 9 and 18 was made immortal through its connection to Johann Sebastian Bach. The combined factors of a balanced upbringing, wonderful teachers and a select group of students produces the same top level of quality now as it did in the 18th century. Each of the choir's performances is marked by professionalism and an amazingly unified sound, but still permeated with musical spontaneity. Their repertoire focuses on Bach and other German Baroque music: at their 2017 concert at Müpa Budapest they performed a selection of works by composers that are no longer so well known today under the direction of a choirmaster who had only taken over the position a short time earlier. Himself an alumnus of the Thomanerchor, Gotthold Schwarz started his career at the institution during the 1960s and went on to work with the famous choir regularly over the intervening decades.

 

Tátrai Band

Tibor Tátrai, Charlie Horváth, Géza Pálvölgyi, János Solti and the other members of the Tátrai Band, which has been active since 1989, are some of the most highly acclaimed musicians in Hungary. Their career has been highlighted by numerous albums and gold records, along with such familiar songs as New York, New York and Küszöbön túl ("Beyond the Threshold"). Prior to their 2018 concert at Müpa Budapest, they had never played in the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall before, so they spiced up their exciting world that night with both their biggest hits and a few special musical treats. Come and join us as we relive that remarkable event through a recording that is worth putting on at any time, as it is a perfect choice for either Advent preparations or for celebrating New Year's in small groups.

 

Ballet Pécs / László Dubrovay: Faust, the Damned – ballet première

Can one be damned after living an exemplary life of decency and honour? Can the forces of evil prevail? These are the questions posed by László Dubrovay. And they are answered by this dance drama set to music that constitutes one of the grandest original ballet compositions of the past 70 years. Dubrovay's ballet follows the first and second parts of Goethe's Faust with music that, like the philosophical drama itself, strives for encyclopaedic thoroughness. As the orchestra bathes in remarkable colours, the dance scenes shape living characters, and the notes turn into images almost of their own accord. Balázs Vincze, choreographer of this 2016 production by Ballet Pécs, says that Dubrovay's vision of Faust is "monumental, with a meticulously detailed storyline, and so incredibly colourful that one can almost visualise the musical work without the help of the ballet, and the composer's personality inspires me at least as much as Faust's wanderings, loves and descent into hell." 

 

Literarium: Iván Sándor

Born in 1930 and a winner of the Attila József and Márai awards, as well as of the Kossuth Prize, Iván Sándor, as a significant master of Hungarian literature, is of great interest for several reasons. In addition to his outstanding work as a novelist, a significant portion of his books are volumes of essays: Sándor is one of the last quality sustainers of this genre that is nearly extinct here in Hungary. As an heir to István Bibó, Antal Szerb and Gábor Halász, he still takes seriously the ethos that it is the writer's duty to reflect on the affairs of the country and its current state, without losing sight of the still grey areas of history. Which is why, for example, the Tiszaeszlár trial, the aftermath of the 1956 revolution, the hope and the disappointments that came with the end of communism, the future of the novel and much more besides all take centre stage in his scope of interest. With our digital literary audio recording, you can relive this out-of-the-ordinary evening from the spring of 2019, which also featured actor Tamás Fodor and cimbalom player Miklós Lukács.

 

Félix Lajkó – Symphonic Serenade

In February, we had the opportunity to witness a truly remarkable Valentine Day's concert. With his unclassifiable style, it makes no difference what direction Félix Lajkó heads in or whom he takes the stage with, the end result is always crystal-clear: an instinctive and visceral compound of music of the soul that is nourished from some profound source. The violinist's musical world constitutes its own genre, which with unique sensitivity and feeling he combines with any other musical style of similar exigency. Helping him soar this time around was the Dohnányi Orchestra Budafok: the antecedants to Symphonic Serenade reach back as far as 1997, to Félix's first album. In its final number the Serenade – in a truly macho manner, although with noble simplicity – he lets the listener know that this is Félix Lajkó who is speaking. And it is always worth listening to him!

 

Little G. Weevil Band: Something Poppin’

At this concert, Little G Weevil, as the multiple award-winning musician Gábor Szűcs is known, presented his 2017 album Something Poppin' as part of his European tour. The album has featured among the very best on the world’s combined blues hit lists, been hailed as revolutionary in the American press and garnered excellent reviews from Australia to Japan. Little G arrived at Müpa Budapest with a superb band and vocalists, along with international star guests Dionne Bennett, from England, and the American duo of James & Black, one of the most sought-after acts in soul and R&B, along with Tibor Tátrai, his first time taking the stage with the guitar legend.

 

René Jacobs and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

At any concert performed by René Jacobs, who started his career as a singer and then rose to the top echelon of conductors specialising in early music, one can rest assured that he will shed new light on even the most familiar works. In his view, "Singing Bach is taking a class in humility, because his music has no room for vanity.” As he put it in an interview: "Important and necessary as it is to study what the performance of a piece was once like, it cannot be the basis of your interpretation. If that is all you consider, your interpretation will be atrocious, a mere alibi, something that hides the fact you have no personality and imagination. Like Harnoncourt, I too think I can't do authentic Bach – all I can do is authentic Jacobs." And the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin proved this at the 2017 Budapest Spring Festival, where they performed the Saint Matthew Passion as interpreted by outstanding singers.

 

An evening with András Cserna-Szabó

András Cserna-Szabó, who has won the József Attila, Mészöly Miklós and Arany Fakanál awards, among other distinctions, is one of the most original and authentic figures in contemporary Hungarian literature. Defying literary norms and the constraints and expectations of genre, his prose – be it in the form of narratives, novels or 'gastro-thrillers' – is incomparable, enjoyable, and liberating. This 2018 episode in Müpa Budapest's Literarium series featuring Mihály Víg, Erika Tankó, Máté Mészáros and presenter and host Lajos Jánossy offers a glimpse into this out-of-the-ordinary world that writers inhabit. This recording from our digital literary collection is both a true refreshment and an exciting adventure, ideal for listening to while driving or just cooking a meal!

 

The Life of Mörk

Over the course of a few years, Mörk has become one of Hungary's most sought-after musical exports. Since appearing on the main stages of Germany's Elbjazz Festival and Leverkusener Jazztage, Márk Zentai has shown what the Mörk sense of life is all about at Müpa Budapest as well. Based on funk and soul, their psychedelic sound is nevertheless eclectically rooted in the work of many great musicians who came before them. At their 2019 concert, the band’s musical complexity and improvisational skills were only enhanced by their guest artists and other visual elements. In the autumn of 2018, they came out with an EP with darker sounds: as one might suspect, The Death of Mörk deals with the fear of departing this world. This, however, was counterbalanced by a single from the spring of 2019 titled The Resurrection of Mörk, which liberated the audience from such feelings. These two polar opposites eventually merged to yield a full album: don't miss the elemental power of this thrilling audio-visual roller coaster!

 

Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

In 2015, the series of Baroque operas performed by the György Vashegyi-led Orfeo Orchestra and Purcell Choir led to another significant achievement. One of the most notable features of Monteverdi's last theatrical work is that during its composition in 1642, the 75-year-old composer boldly brought to life not a mythological story, but an historical event, the first such feat in the history of opera. Seneca, Drusilla, the betrayed Empress Octavia, Nero and his lover. Poppea's story is obscene and immoral: the wicked emerge victorious, the good are punished. In the main roles, you can enjoy such remarkable singers as Emőke Baráth, Viktória Vizin, Hagar Sharvit and Matthew Shaw, which when combined with the performance of period instruments and the staging makes this a truly memorable performance. Monteverdi's music, which was considered extremely avant-garde in his own era, is still incredibly expressive today.

 

Erika Náray and special guest: Viktor Segal

In our podcast (in Hungarian), you can listen – again or for the first time – to a thrilling conversation between Erika Náray and Viktor Segal. Segal, the world famous chef, has worked outside of Hungary in stylish hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants for many years. Though he remains very much in demand, when he is at home you are more likely to spot him at literary events, theatres and concerts. He has witnessed a wealth of interesting and often unusual situations, encountered a wide range of people and stories and seen destinies unfold in front of him. Being a celebrity chef may be hard work, but it's often a lot of fun too. Viktor Segal loves trying to work out what lies beneath the surface. In 1989, Segal left Hungary armed only with two suitcases. He worked abroad for ten years, yet never once asked what his salary would be. He simply wanted to improve, and always went somewhere where he could learn something new. And he stayed in a place just so long as he was excited by what he was doing. He now yearns for the complete opposite: for direct, sincere encounters – for a restaurant where he is personally able to serve the guests the food he has made.

 

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

A truly memorable concert from 2015! Béla Fleck, considered by many to be the finest banjo player in the world, was named after the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. He has enjoyed tremendous success by combining bluegrass – the traditional medium of the banjo – with jazz and rock and roll. Béla Fleck founded the band the Flecktones alongside bass guitarist Victor Wooten and Roy "Futureman” Wooten, later joined by Howard Levy on the accordion and Jeff Coffin on saxophone, with the group winning a series of Grammy awards. Fleck has written a banjo concerto with orchestral accompaniment and researched the African roots of the instrument, not to mention played the banjo in the concerts of Abigail Washburn. The perfect harmony between the duo is best explained by the fact that they are former housemates and are both admirers and connoisseurs of the music of the Appalachian Mountains. Washburn left law school in Beijing 15 years ago in order to play the banjo, though one element of that past still remains: she often sings in Chinese in her concerts.

 

Müpa Budapest Christmas 2020: international popular music

You haven't managed to get in tune with the holidays yet? No problem! We're here to help. After hearing the Hungarian classic hits, we can't leave out the Christmas tunes from abroad. Once again, we have selected a bouquet of catchy music from the stars who have taken the stage at Müpa Budapest over the years. Assuring us an intimate atmosphere will be Natalie Cole, Kurt Elling, Take 6, Sinéad O’Connor, Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, New York Voices, Marcus Miller, the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Diana Krall and John Scofield, among others. Inimitable holiday melodies directly from the very greatest artists around: background music for wrapping gifts, supper, or just a good chat!

 

Lőrinc Barabás Quartet & Takuya Kuroda

Lőrinc Barabás is one of the the key personalities in the Hungarian music scene, having been part of many of the country's successful bands. He has performed alongside such artists as Valerie June, Bonobo, Nicola Conte, Erik Truffaz, Parov Stelar and Nils Petter Molvær. In 2005, he founded his own ensemble, Lőrinc Barabás Eklektric, with whom he has released two albums. Then in 2015, he established the Lőrinc Barabás Quartet together with keyboardist Zoltán Cséry, bass guitarist Attila Herr and drummer Zsolt Nagy. Joining them at the 2018 record release concert for their new album was a special guest artist: Takuya Kuroda. The Japanese trumpeter zigzags between the styles of jazz, post-bop, neo-soul, hip-hop and electronic music. Experience this thrilling musical encounter once again!

 

An Evening with Krisztián Nyáry

The writer and literary historian Krisztián Nyáry is one of the most colourful and multifaceted figures in the Hungarian cultural scene. The author of numerous successful books, he brought literary history closer to Hungary's Facebook users and ensured that the conventional portraits of writers would be taken down from classroom walls forever. In February 2018, around the time of an extraordinarily entertaining instalment of the Literarium programme, he was working on a series of books containing Hungarian letters from the 19th and 20th centuries: after reading the letters to the audience, he related the stories that lay behind them. The Digital Literature audio recording features actors Piroska Móga and Ferenc Elek, as well as presenter and host Lajos Jánossy.

 

Margaret Island – The Colours of Silence

As they entered their fifth year together in 2019, the band Margaret Island, founded by Bálint Füstös, Kristóf Törőcsik and Viki Lábas, celebrated the magic of diversity at Müpa Budapest. With their light pop music brimming with positive and sincere messages, this group that started out playing acoustic folk pop gained significant popularity in a short time. After exploding on the scene with their 2016 song Eső (Rain), they soon became a permanent fixture at clubs and festivals both in Budapest and elsewhere in Hungary, as well as on the radio charts. Their first concert hall concert is an invitation to grow quiet, one that offers a unique and thought-provoking selection of their already well-known songs and the compositions they released in September 2018. The Colours of Silence concert will be a unique reflection on life's simple truths, pains and delights through a unique patchwork of moods.

 

Art Uplifts Us! – a short Müpa Budapest Christmas film

We are proud to present our short Christmas film for this year, a story about the special friendship between a young girl and a piano, as well as the power of music. The Béla Balázs Award-winning director Attila Szász was also behind such works as The Ambassador to Bern, Demimonde and Eternal Winter; the latter was voted the best European television film at the Prix Europa festival and also won actress Marina Gera an International Emmy Award In the film, we evoke the Weihnachtsbaum Suite Franz Liszt wrote for his granddaughter, specifically the first and fifth pieces, as revised by Róbert Erdész, a founding member of the Hungarian progressive rock band Solaris. Although the piano in the film can play music on its own, Mira Bicskey, the young actress portraying the protagonist, is herself an able and enthusiastic pianist: she prepared for the shooting with intensive musical instruction and a great deal of practice, just as did Tünde Beke, her hand double in the film. 

 
 

Grieg: Peer Gynt – Drama with dance in two acts

A true delicacy from November 2017! It was Ibsen himself who commissioned Grieg to write the incidental music to the most frequently performed stage play in Norwegian literature. Unconvinced that the music would be successful abroad, the composer wrote two suites from eight of the passages, which remain his best-known and most popular works today. The drama has not really been performed much together with the incidental music over the past century: it was only in the 1980s that the full score was published. In 2001, the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra presented a "concert friendly" version using 21 of the 26 movements that Grieg wrote, with the plot to the play being related by a narrator. Müpa Budapest enchanted the audience with a similar performance narrated by Péter Huszti, one of the most memorable portrayers of Peer Gynt in the history of Hungarian theatre, as the Coincidence dance ensemble acted out the plot. The performance features the Budapest Academic Choral Society, Andrea Csereklyei and Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz, as well as Domonkos Blazsó, who recently passed away at a tragically young age. 

 

Wagner and his Contemporaries – Camilla Nylund song recital

Although Richard Wagner marched into music history as the seminal master of the music drama, he also wrote art songs – and not just any old kind, either! Getting to know them and assessing what techniques he adopts from his contemporaries and how he differs from them can be an exciting journey of discovery. This is particularly noticeable when a recital of Wagner's songs also includes works by other composers, in this case Sibelius, Mahler and Richard Strauss. Our guide, Finland's Camilla Nylund, is very much at home in the Wagnerian repertoire and has appeared at the Budapest Wagner Days before: her portrayal of Elsa in the 2011 production of Lohengrin was a memorable one. Her partner, the German pianist Helmut Deutsch, is one of the leading accompanists of our time in the genre of art songs.

 
 

Müpa Budapest Christmas 2020: Hungarian popular music

The sound of Christmas songs playing on the radio is usually the first clear sign that Advent has finally arrived. Our loved ones help us to get into a holiday mood and forget the difficulties of our everyday lives. We have compiled our Spotify list from Christmas songs by Hungarian performers who have taken the stage at Müpa Budapest over the years: László Tolcsvay, Muzsikás, Kaláka, Kálmán Balogh, Budapest Bár, Bea Palya, Kiscsillag, Zséda, Zsuzsa Koncz, Zorán, János Kulka, Bálint Gájer and the Csík Band – just to name a few. When you're cooking, chatting or enjoying a fine dinner: get in tune for Christmas with us! 

 

Poetry Recitals: Ernő Szép

This remarkable audio recording was made in Glass Hall in April 2019, featuring such popular artists from the Örkény Theatre as Anikó Für, László Gálffi and Pál Mácsai, with the latter also credited as the director of this performance. The focus of this selection compiled by László Darvasi, who himself started his career as a poet, is Ernő Szép, the popular poet and later fashionable dramatist, whose novels were considered literary sensations. Later on, literary opinion forgot about him almost entirely for a time, and now we are rediscovering him – as the Hungarian precursor to modern, absurd literature. He was one of the best friends of Endre Ady, as well as a close acquaintance of Ferenc Molnár. Mihály Babits considered him a great poet from the outset, while Lajos Hatvany saw him as one of the central figures of Hungarian urban fiction. He combined humour and lyricism, subtle perception and self-irony in often song-like verses, creating a rich tapestry of emotion to find a new way to express the fundamental values of literature: love, understanding and forgiveness.

 

Erika Náray and special guest: Piroska Molnár

The featured artist in this memorable episode of our Crazy About Jazz series will be actress Piroska Molnár, who has won the Kossuth Prize and the Mari Jászai and Prima Primissima awards in addition to being named an "actor of the nation". This outstanding artist has taken the stage in the most prestigious theatres and delivered unforgettable performances in numerous internationally acclaimed films. She not only keeps track of the younger generation, she also supports them. Saying she has no desire for publicity or prominence outside of the theatre, she rarely talks publicly – but when she does, her voice carries weight. And you can ascertain this with your own ears through the audio recording we made in February 2020, when she spoke to Erika Náray about life, the theatrical profession, and of course, music. Our podcast is a perfect choice to accompany cooking, a supper or just a nice cup of coffee!