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The Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna

The Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna
February 25 – March 29, 2012

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Explore the Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna

The central current of Classical and Romantic music and culture sprang from the cities of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna as if there was something flowing through the Danube and its tributaries nearly as vital to civilization as the water itself. Geniuses like Mozart, the Strausses, Bartók, and Beethoven strolled the banks and city streets, drawing inspiration that changed the course of artistic history. Through concerts, theater, and lectures, the Kennedy Center, under the guidance of Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, explores the themes and currents that emerged from these three great cities.


A bustling crossroads, Budapest has always been where Hungary and Romania's rural folk came to exchange both goods and rich traditions. Their vibrant songs from the countryside were no exception, and this "Gypsy Music" can be heard weaving throughout the works of Budapest's great composers. The festival pulls these works together into vibrant programs that will make you want to join the caravan and head out to the next gypsy camp. The National Symphony Orchestra plays beloved pieces, from Béla Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances and his one-act opera Bluebeard's Castle, to Franz Liszt's and Zoltán Kodály's lively waltzes. Add in a chamber performance by Budapest's Takács Quartet and it becomes clear the music of this city is rich with treasures. Plus, theater lovers can revel in a performance of Gypsies, a compelling play with music from one of Hungary's most well-respected theater companies, Katona József Theatre.


One of the world's most beautiful cities, Prague's architecture seems at one with its music, which can be at moments baroque and fantastic and at others imbued with the accents of the Bohemian and Moravian people who called the city home. The programs that feature Czech masters are as much a tour through a legendary and historic city as they are musical performances. The National Symphony Orchestra presents Antonín Dvořák's towering cantata Stabat Mater with singers Anne Schwanewilms, Nathalie Stutzmann, Steve Davislim, and Robert Holl, and The Washington Chorus. The Prague Philharmonia, conducted by founder Jiří Bĕlohlávek, plays Leoš Janáček's Suite for String Orchestra among other works. The youthful Eben Trio take audiences through the chamber works of Petr Fiala, Bedřich Smetana, and Dvořák.


Without the contributions of Vienna, classical music might not enjoy the relevance it maintains today. The city's output of musical thinkers and works was prolific. And the cross-pollination that occurred as masters met in Viennese salons or listened to concerts of great works elevated the art form. Mozart, Beethoven, the Strauss family, and all those waltzes come together in programs by the National Symphony Orchestra; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel, presented by WPAS in conjunction with the Kennedy Center; and chamber musicians including a concert pairing of Christoph Eschenbach as pianist and violinist Dan Zhu, as well as Matthias Goerne singing Franz Schubert's Winterreise. For opera lovers there are two Viennese treats--Mozart's Così fan tutte from Washington National Opera and Beethoven's Fidelio in concert from the NSO. Young audiences can enjoy an introduction to the life of one of Vienna's greatest in The Mozart Experience.