The Budapest Strings ensemble (Chamber Orchestra) was founded in 1977 by graduate students at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. Their first success came a few years later in 1982, were awarded the Belgrad International Chamber Competition Prize.
In 1995 the orchestra initiated and launched the Haydn Festival of Fertőd taking place in the Esterházy Castle. The prestigious, annually held event and the orchestra have hosted numerous nationally and internationally acknowledged and renowned musicians, including Miklós Perényi, Zoltán Kocsis, Friedrich Reinhold, David Grimal, Stefan Vladar, Maurice Steger and Jana Boušková.
The Budapest Strings has won several prizes, the Bartók–Pásztory Prize (2001), – which is Hungary’s highest prize for professional musicians –, the Art Prize given by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2007) and the Artisjus Prize (2008). Several influential publications, journals and daily papers, have recognized the outstandingly high level performances and achievements of the orchestra.
The Budapest Strings ensemble plays the string orchestra repertoire, including early music, classical masterpieces and 19th century music as well. It regularly plays transcriptions, various types of pieces for chamber orchestra and string quartets. The orchestra stands high as a performer of 20th century music, and performs works by contemporary composers, several of which have been dedicated to the orchestra.
The orchestra gives approximately 70 concerts yearly, held in major concert halls of Budapest, other Hungarian cities and abroad. The orchestra is a regular guest at international music festivals in European countries, in the former member states of the Russian Federation, in Japan and in North and South America. The ensemble has given concerts in the Budapest Spring Festival, CAFe Budapest and in several foreign music festivals, for example, Carinthian Summer (Austria), Danubius (Italy), Norwich, Canterbury, Cricklade (England), Vallon (Belgium), Łańcut (Poland). Over a period of 13 years the orchestra has played the complete piano concertos of Mozart at the Kremsmünster Festival with the pianist Stefan Vladar.
Numerous radio and TV channels have broadcast live and recorded the orchestra’s concerts. The ensemble has made a large number of recordings with several prestigious record companies (Hungaroton, Nuova Era, Naxos, Laserlight, Capriccio). Having signed an exclusive contract, the orchestra has recorded more than 40 CDs with Delta Music.
The Budapest Strings ensemble has worked with numerous outstanding soloists, including Kristóf Baráti, Gergely Bogányi, Gábor Boldóczki, Péter Csaba, Fazıl Say, Zoltán Fejérvári, László Fenyő, Péter Frankl, Dénes Kovács, Lajos Lencsés, Louise Alder, Marielle Nordmann, Michael Martin Kofler, Erika Miklósa, Nobuko Imai, György Pauk, Dezső Ránki, Helmuth Rilling, Andrea Rost, Ruth Ziesak, János Starker and István Várdai.
Besides their commitment to orchestral work, each of the 17 members of the orchestra play a significant role in music education. The artistic director of Budapest Strings Károly Botvay, former cellist of the world famous Bartók String Quartet, has been awarded the Kossuth Prize and János Pilz, former member of the Keller Quartet, who has been the leader of the orchestra since 2012, has been awarded the Liszt Ferenc Prize.