Iván Fischer

Iván Fischer (born 20 January 1951) is a Hungarian conductor and composer. Born in Budapest into a musical family (his older brother, Ádám Fischer, is also a conductor), Fischer initially studied piano, violin, cello and composition in Budapest. He moved later to Vienna to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the University of Music and Performing Arts, where he also studied cello and early music, studying and working as assistant to Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

In 1976, Fischer won the Rupert Foundation conducting competition in London. He began thereafter to guest-conduct such British orchestras as the BBC Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra, with whom he conducted a world tour in 1982. His US conducting debut was with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1983.

Fischer returned to Hungary in 1983 to found the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO), which initially was intended for a limited number of concerts a year on a part-time basis. The BFO became a permanent institution in 1992, with a schedule of about 30 weeks of performing a year. With the BFO, he has incorporated unorthodox ideas into practice, including allowing individual symphony musicians to contribute to concert programming, as in the "cocoa-concerts" for young children. Other series include the Titok-koncert ("bag of surprise") concert series where the programme is not announced, "one forint concerts" where he talks to the audience, open-air concerts in Budapest attracting tens of thousands of people, as well as concert opera performances. Fischer has founded several festivals, including a summer festival in Budapest on baroque music and the Budapest Mahlerfest which is also a forum for commissioning and presenting new music works. In addition, there is an annual competition from within the orchestra for soloist opportunities in concert. Fischer and the BFO have recorded commercially for Philips Classics and Channel Classics Records.