Fantaise Hongroise

Joint concert by János Balázs and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France

György  Cziffra’s centenary celebrated with a world-famous orchestra and a world-premiere in Budapest and Paris

On the 100th birthday of one of the most outstanding 20th-century Hungarian piano performers, György Cziffra, his memory will be evoked in the Bartók Béla Concert Hall of Müpa in Budapest on 5 November, then on 7 November, in the concert hall of the Auditorium de Radio France in Paris, as the special event of the Cziffra100 Memorial Year.   For the festive gala concerts, Peter Eötvös composed an entirely new piece titled Cziffra Psodia, a piano concerto, which will be premiered by János Balázs as a soloist, accompanied by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under the baton of the brilliant Finnish conductor, Mikko Franck.

In the second half of the 1950s, György Cziffra adopted France as his new home and established an intense relationship with the local music scene. Péter Eötvös dedicated his new composition Cziffra Psodia to the acclaimed Hungarian pianist, János Balázs, who will also perform one of Cziffra’s most memorable repertoire pieces, Ferenc Liszt’s compellingly elegant Hungarian Rhapsody. The cimbalom also plays a crucial role in Eötvös’ concerto, this time played by one the greatest virtuosos of this characteristically Hungarian instrument, Miklós Lukács. The conductor of the night’s programme – also featuring César Franck’s Symphony in D minor – will be Mikko Franck, one of the most outstanding representatives of the worldwide acknowledged Finnish conducting tradition following in the footsteps of Jorma  Panula.

The internationally acclaimed contemporary Hungarian composer, Peter Eötvös, encountered György Cziffra when he was only a child. In 1950, the pianist had been sentenced to forced labour due to his failed emmigration attempt; the physical efforts had exerted in a stone-carving factory and at construction sites caused lasting damage to his hands. Peter Eötvös’s mother, a former fellow-student at the Liszt Academy, was one of those people who supported the pianist after his release in 1953. Cziffra began playing in coffee bars in Budapest, where the future composer, still as a boy, had the chance to listen to him. As Peter Eötvös recalls, Cziffra’s performance was absolutely captivating even despite the poor state of his hands. The two families kept in touch even when the pianist left Hungary. Through his piano concerto, Cziffra Psodia, Eötvös intended to outline the highlights and hardships of the legendary pianist’s life and work with the tools of music.


The Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France was established between the two world wars in 1937, and in recent decades, they have been led by such conductors as Gilbert Amy, Marek Janowski and Myung-Whun Chung. The current musical director of the orchestra is Mikko Franck, born in 1979, one of the most outstanding students of the Finnish conducting school linked to the famous professor of the Sibelius Academy, Jorma Panula. The Finnish maestro was appointed to head the orchestra in 2015.

The pianist János Balázs has devoted himself to the memory of György Cziffra right from the start of his career. In fact, in his home country, Hungary, he is behind the foundation of the Cziffra Festival in 2016, which doesn’t only host classical music concerts but also presents several other genres and art-forms to the audience with the kind participation of renowned artists. The festival also considers it its mission to empower young talents through masterclasses and its prestigious awards.

Fantaisie hongroise


Cziffra Psodia, concerto pour piano et cymbalum obligato (commande de Radio France/Müpa Budapest – création française)

Symphonie en ré mineur


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