During forty years of sharing concerts with our regular Hungarian audiences we have got to know each other very well, and therefore there is only need for us to introduce ourselves to our newcomers. Please allow me to seek outside assistance for this purpose, for which moreover I have to tempt you away to the Canary Islands, and spend a while in more peaceful times than those of today…
After we had given a concert in a small town on the islands a music-loving German gentleman came in (even older than me), and enthusiastically congratulated us on the concert. He was a high-ranking EU official (for years I kept his business card in the pocket of my dinner jacket). He said he had fled there for some peace and quiet to get away from many cares and problems, and as it was a Hungarian chamber orchestra that was advertized here with a Bartók programme, he thought he absolutely must hear it.
His job was the organizing of official conferences, and in a few days he had to decide on a suitable country and venue. He claimed that during the concert his decision was made. Beyond the musical experience – and what radiated from the Bartók – he realized that on the podium we presented wonderfully the ideal model of a small republic! He related how each of the musicians played with such enthusiasm and intensity, as if they alone were playing the piece, at the same time watching the section leaders and particularly the conductor whose directions they did not ignore for a second. He had heard many chamber orchestras – but for him this Hungarian model was definitely the one he most preferred. "I've got the ideal venue, our next visit is to Hungary!”- he declared. And so it turned out.
At the moment when Hungary joined the EU in 2004 the President's speech was delivered after the midday bells during a gala concert given by our orchestra in the Sándor palace in Budapest. And two days later in Stuttgart on the occasion of the speeches given by the ministers of culture again it was us who gave the celebratory concert in the Weisser Saal…