Central Europe: our region, our home, our past and our present; the stage for the passionate, sometimes troubled coexistence, separation and common discovery of German, Slav, Hungarian and Romanian nationalities. One indisputable, key element of our common history woven by our differences and diversity is a love of music. The concept of a Central European youth orchestra was born six years ago, in 2010, and nurtured into existence by the then president of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, András Batta, and the leaders of the music conservatory in Zagreb, dean Mladen Janjanin and his deputy Dalibor Cikojević. These founders dreamed of creating an international ensemble renewing year after year, providing not only new opportunities for meeting and making music but also a chance for the conservatory students of this region to learn more about each other’s classical music heritage, orchestral and music teaching culture. The dream became reality in just a few months.
In 2011, as holder of the rotating presidency of the European Union, Hungary became the host and driving force behind the first Euphony orchestra. Music academy students from Budapest, Graz, Vienna, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Bucharest rehearsed works by Liszt, Dohnányi, Bartók and Kodály for one week under the guidance of Zoltán Kocsis, and then staged an introductory concert in Müpa Budapest, followed by repeats in Graz, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Vienna with accompaniment by pianist István Lajkó who at that time was still a student of the Liszt Academy. The success of these public performances and the enthusiastic feedback from students served to reinforce the belief that we have a lot to learn from and about each other, and these meetings of music and people are experiences of a lifetime for the participating young artists.
In 2013, two years after its formation, Euphony was hosted by the Graz University of Music, which was then celebrating its 50th anniversary. Under the direction of Austrian conductor Oswald Sallaberger, the students performed Brahms’s Symphony No. 4, Günther Eisel’s Concerto for string orchestra, and Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto with violin solo by local student, Rolf Haas. After the Graz concert the programme (titled Central European Postcard) was taken on a tour of Ljubljana, Zagreb and Budapest.
This year, host of the international ensemble is Croatia, which in the meantime has gained membership of the European Union. The Zagreb Academy of Music is using the EUphony orchestra concert as a means of inaugurating its brand-new university building and concert hall. Similarly to earlier programmes, this one is also full of specialities: Croatian Blagoje Bersa’s Sunny fields, the concerto for piano by the tragically fated Hungarian-Croatian countess Dora Pejačević (soloist is the Croatian Vedran Janjanin who is spending a year at the Budapest Liszt Academy on an Erasmus scholarship), then this major concert winds up with Richard Strauss’s The Hero’s Life. This year we also welcome new participants into the ensemble since it is joined by students of the music academies of Sarajevo and Banja Luka, who together with their Croatian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Austrian and Serb counterparts rehearse and perform the programme under the baton of Croatian conductor Mladen Tarbuk.