Iván Fischer, acclaimed conductor of Budapest Festival Orchestra, released a video message criticizing Budapest Municipality for stripping the orchestra of HUF 200 million (USD 730,000) in annual supports. Budapest is to contribute a mere HUF 60 million to the world-renowned orchestra during the 2016-2017 season.
According to online daily nol.hu, government supports are necessary to fund the year-round activities of such orchestras. About 65-85 percent of the cost of running an orchestra goes on salaries and the remainder on maintaining instruments, touring and royalties.
In the case of Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Hungarian government sponsors its activities to the tune of HUF 1.5 billion (USD 5.5 million). Last year, Budapest Municipality sponsored the orchestra with HUF 260 million.
According to nol.hu, Budapest mayor István Tarlós got into an exchange with city council representative Csaba Horváth, of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), when the latter asked the mayor to reconsider cutting the orchestra’s funding. Horváth was reportedly unable to respond.when Tarlós asked him to name the orchestra’s concert master.
(More a poor reflection on the MSZP politician and former deputy city mayor than on Fischer, who is world renowned for his brilliant interpretations of works by Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak and Mahler, to name a few-ed.)
Fischer has been the orchestra’s music director since he and fellow conductor Zoltán Kocsis founded it in 1983.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but let’s not act like it is an insult for someone to receive HUF 60 million in today’s day and age,” Tarlós said.
In his video message to Budapesters, Fischer called on them to protest the municipality’s decision on May 7.