The Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra originally compiled this programme exploring the themes of freedom and independence for the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising. Hungary's oldest professional symphony orchestra was founded by composer Ferenc Erkel in 1853. Since then, it has been conducted by several now-legendary composers – including Brahms, Dvořák, Mahler, Ravel, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky – and performed Hungarian and world premières of several hundred works. In Goethe's drama, the Count of Egmont continues to fight for the independence of the Low Countries against oppressive Spanish rule, despite the knowledge that he will be imprisoned and executed for his defiance. The work, which ends with the Siegessymphonie (symphony of victory), was repeatedly broadcast on Hungarian radio during the 1956 uprising, which was similar in spirit to the 1848 Revolution and Hungarian War of Independence. Lajos Kossuth was one of the greatest figures to demand independence, an end to feudal privileges and the establishment of civil rights in the 19th century, and was the intellectual leader of the 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule. Kossuth's popularity soared once again on his death in 1894 as resentment against the Habsburgs grew anew in the ensuing decades. An inventor of instruments and contemporary of Mahler, composer Emánuel Moór dedicated the third of his eight symphonies to Kossuth on its completion in 1895. In recent years, any performance of this genuine symphonic discovery has come to enjoy pride of place on the Hungarian classical concert calendar. Continuing this theme, Béla Bartók, aged 22 at the time, announced his support for national and musical independence in 1904 with a symphonic poem entitled Kossuth. Also performed by the Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra, the piece was declared a political statement by Zoltán Kodály no less. Presented by: Hungarian State Opera, Palace of Arts
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