The mission of the Liszt Academy, Budapest

Who will carry love over? is the question posed by László Nagy, a major Hungarian poet.

Love and music grow side by side. Both entrance, and this state can only be sustained with the right passion.

Who will carry music over, our music, your music, their music, to the far shores of time? The Budapest Liszt Academy is one of the ferrymen.

One lives while one can make music, or while one resonates to music. Without music there is no life. Not only is it that ‘flowers we are' (set to music by György Kurtág) but sound, too. Music can sound at any time, from anyone, assuming the Creator, embodied in a composer, wishes it so. Scribes worthy of this have imprinted countless notes into the wax tablet of our soul.

Music and musicians are born in the Liszt Academy. This is a harbour to and from which ships carry musicians. The teaching of music – all areas of classical music, jazz, folk music, church music, composition, musicology and music teacher training – takes place here, in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, while the nurturing stages are conducted in the Bartók Conservatory, the university's secondary school of teaching practice and preparatory institution.  

The main building, with five concert halls, is the hub of concert life in the capital. Virtually every significant performer and ensemble of the 20th century has appeared on the stage of the Grand Hall, exhaling their art onto the invisible wavelengths of the incomparable acoustics of the chamber, merging it into the spellbound audience, an audience that surrounds the artist in the same way that a clapper is encompassed by the body of a bell. The most significant young talents introduce themselves in this unrivalled atmosphere, students of the academy can share in this as can those individuals yearning for music who make up the audience of the Liszt Academy. 

Teaching and performing in concert are closely intertwined at the Liszt Academy. Its unique characteristic is, on the one hand, being one of the most distinguished universities on the intellectual bourse of international academies of music, while on the other hand it is one of the most precious gems among the finest concert halls anywhere in the world... Two facets of one institution, or the common profile of two institutions? Who can say? The essence is the unity of this duality.

The Liszt Academy is rooted in Hungarian music traditions and those of the region, and these traditions remain unbroken. Its long-standing departments are structured like a family tree; the teachers, and their teachers, of professors giving classes today can be traced back to the founders of departments, to Liszt, Hubay, Popper, Robert Volkmann and Hans von Koessler. In departments founded at a later date, for instance musicology, which was established by Zoltán Kodály, Bence Szabolcsi and Dénes Bartha, the craft is passed down, figuratively speaking, from father to son. Folk music is one of the leading threads that run right through the history of the Liszt Academy; it defines not only new Hungarian composition but, principally via Kodály, highly advanced and successful Hungarian music pedagogy, too. The ‘youngest' department of the Liszt Academy, that is, the department of folk music, preserves this with great tenacity.

The spirit of the Liszt Academy is truly international. An unusually large number of its former students became key figures in the story of 20th century music performance. In the wake of historical tragedies, many quit their alma mater and Hungary. But nearly all returned, for longer or shorter periods, and every one of these artists has proudly proclaimed to the world what we call the spirit of the Budapest Liszt Academy. This spirit is at one and the same time as respectful of traditions and open to the new as was the founder of the institution, Ferenc Liszt. This is his academy of music: the medium of making a unique Hungarian proposition global.

As both educational and cultural institution the Liszt Academy functions for the benefit of the Hungarian and international community. It plays a missionary role in bringing together music of the East and West, in the representation – to the highest standards – of the Carpathian Basin region, and in tasks devolving on it in the development of society. It embraces and nurtures musical talent, encourages and reinforces dedicated teachers of music, protects the exemplary system of Hungarian music teaching, and maintains close contacts with domestic and foreign music institutions and ensembles.

The Liszt Academy trains students for the future. It monitors and examines the very latest trends and practices in music, and prepares its students for these. By long-standing tradition, teaching is one-on-one, but in the area of the performing arts playing collectively, that is, chamber music or orchestral teaching, is of critical importance and is set to become ever more relevant. The teaching staff of the Liszt Academy wishes to raise happy musicians. Not unsuccessful soloists, but successful team players: chamber musicians and orchestral members both in the narrower and broader senses of the terms. Emphasis is placed – in all areas – on the training of brilliant music teachers capable of performing to the highest levels. We teach personalities who, later on, can convincingly represent in the music life and in the field of teaching the transformatory power of music on society.

As a university and concert centre the Liszt Academy stands as one of the premier institutions of Budapest, capital of Hungary. Its roots stretch back to the birth of this metropolis standing on the banks of the Danube, geographically speaking it lies in the heart of the city and its spiritual and artistic influence is enormous. The core of musical knowledge, the venue for the training of new generations of musicians, it informs public tastes, improves the quality of life, and is both educating and uplifting. It is a democratic institution in that it holds talent and quality to be the measures of worth. Its leading role in the life of Budapest, the silicon valley of music, is undisputed. Working in close alliance with its partners, the Hungarian State Opera House, Palace of Arts, Budapest Music Center, Pest Vigadó, and the universities of arts in Budapest, it endeavours to see Budapest strengthen its role in the line of cultural harbours of the world, and successfully develop its creative industry, which results in one of the most significant intellectual and material successes of Hungary. 

András BATTA

Notable alumni

Motto

Virtual Tour

Kodály Institute

Liszt Museum

Library