Ivan Fischer

Ivan Fischer has been Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra since he founded the celebrated ensemble in 1983. He became Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in the 2006-07 season and in 2008-09 began a two-year term as Principal Conductor. In February of 2011, it was announced that Mr. Fischer will become Music Director of the Konzerthaus in Berlin and Principal Conductor of the Konzerthausorchester, as of August 2012. Born in Budapest in 1951, Mr. Fischer is one in a long line of important conductors to spring from the rich musical ground of Hungary, along with Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Istvan Kertesz, Georg Solti, Ferenc Fricsay, Sandor Vegh, Antal Dorati, and several members of Mr. Fischer's own family. He first achieved public acclaim outside his native land but returned to participate in the cultural renaissance that began in Hungary in the 1980's and caught fire with the fall of the Iron Curtain. The partnership of Mr. Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) is one of today's great success stories. In 2008, Gramophone Magazine named the orchestra one of the ten best in the world. Mr. Fischer's rehearsal technique with the orchestra was unique from the outset, phasizing a chamber music approach and creative work for each orchestra member. The BFO was soon touring internationally and collaborating with Philips Classics in highly acclaimed recordings that further showcased the remarkable ch istry between the orchestra and their music director. The extraordinary achievements of the BFO have contributed to Mr. Fischer's reputation as a visionary and singularly inspiring orchestra leader. His innovative youth concerts with the orchestra are enormously popular at home and were a prominent feature of his tenure in Washington. In 2011, Mr. Fischer and the BFO are making three visits to North America. The first visit took place in January, when the orchestra performed two concerts of works by Haydn and Stravinsky at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. Their final visit of the year will include stops at New York's Carnegie Hall, Chicago's Orchestra Hall, and the Kennedy Center where they will perform works by Schubert and Bartok. In addition to a full schedule of concerts in Budapest, the BFO's whirlwind touring schedule in the 2010-11 season also includes concerts in China, Taipei, Korea, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, the U.K., Brazil and Argentina. In addition to the NSO, Mr. Fischer is guest conducting the Munich Philharmonic and the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York this season. A frequent guest of major orchestras, Mr. Fischer made his U.S. debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1983. He has led the orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. He has conducted Mozart at the Glyndebourne Festival and in concert at the BBC Proms with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, of which he was named a principal artist along with Sir Simon Rattle and Vladimir Jurowski (the OAE having no principal conductor). Mr. Fischer has led Mozart productions at the Vienna State Opera and has also conducted the major opera companies of Brussels, Budapest, Frankfurt, London, Paris and Zurich. He was music director of the Opera National de Lyon from 2000 to 2003. Ivan Fischer, nominated for Gramophone 's 2008 Artist of the Year award, has a wide-ranging discography numbering over fifty recordings, many of which have been nominated for or received awards. He and the orchestra now record exclusively for Channel Classics. Their most recent release is the Beethoven symphonies #4 and 6. Maestro Fischer studied piano, violin, cello and composition in Budapest, continuing his education in Vienna, where he was in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class. Mr. Fischer also studied cello and early music while he was Nikolaus Harnoncourt's assistant. His international career was launched when he won the Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition in 1976 at the age of 25. Mr. Fischer is a founder of the Hungarian Mahler Society and the Patron of Britain's Kodaly Academy. He received the Golden Medal Award from the president of the Republic of Hungary and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum for his services to help international cultural relations. In 2005 he was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and in 2006 he received Hungary's most prestigious arts award, the Kossuth Prize. Updated: March 28, 2011