An Ancient City on the Danube
August 6-13, 2017
Concert: August 12 AT Vigadó Hall
Conductor: Heinz Ferlesch
It might be said that Budapest has seen it all, but more to the point, Budapest is a city that must be seen.
From the Old Stone Age, people have lived on both sides of the Danube and domination of the Carpathan Basin in which the city is settled brought myriad conquerors through the ages, from the Romans to the Soviet Communists. The Magyars established the Arpad dynasty about 896, and in 1000 Hungary had its first King, Stephen (Istvan) I, who introduced Christianity. Nevertheless, Mongols and then Turks overran the area until 1686, when the Habsburgs established the Kingdom of Hungary under their empire. The Chain Bridge, opened in 1849, helped the split city to merge, but it wasn't until 1872 that the three settlements of Buda, Pest, and Obuda ("Old Buda") officially united and became the capital of Hungary. Though Budapest enjoyed an upsurge of construction and tourism under the Soviet regime, It was only 27 years ago that the Iron Curtain was pulled down and Hungary became its own country again.
Buda Castle was originally built in Gothic style with Renaissance elements. Because of invasions and war, It has been restored many times in the 14th century, and each time another architectural style was added, including Baroque and Art Nouveau. Twentieth-century architects constructed a Baroque facade with the intention of returning it to the 18th century form, though the eclectic style of Budapest's buildings is considered a valuable asset. The Buda Castle district offers much to see and do, including walking tours and river cruises and several museums.
The Museum of Music History views Hungary's history through Euterpe's lens from the 18th century to the present. The emphasis is on the music inspired by folk traditions that can be heard in the rhapsodies of Liszt, Kodály and Bartók. A highlight of the museum is the recording gramophone that Kodály and Bartók used to record the folk music of those living in the Carpathian basin, including not just Hungarian, but also Czech, Transylvanian, Romanian, and Slovakian influences.Visitors can hear recordings as well as view the instruments, sheet music, and original scores in the exhibitions.
New among Budapest's museums is the House of Houdini, celebrating the iconic escape artist and master illusionist. Born Ehrich Weisz in Budapest in 1874, Houdini left his family at the age of 17 to pursue his career in the magical arts. Seventeen years in the planning, the museum exhibits authentic Houdini memorabilia, including his handcuffs, straitjackets, posters, books, original Houdini items such as personal letters, and the key of the burnt Houdini Museum in Chicago.
The Hungarian National Gallery offers another view of the country's history through fine art from the time of the Magyars until today. The collection including 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, and a hundred thousand artifacts illustrates both the pastoral beauty and the turbulence of the country from the 10th century in chronological order.