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Concertgebouworkest appoints Iván Fischer honorary guest conductor

23 October 2020

The Concertgebouworkest has appointed Iván Fischer honorary guest conductor with effect from the 2021–22 season. In that capacity, the Hungarian conductor will work with the orchestra two or three weeks each season.

Maestro Fischer is the orchestra’s third titled conductor after honorary conductor Bernard Haitink and conductor emeritus Riccardo Chailly. His own former mentor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, served as the Concertgebouworkest’s honorary guest conductor from October 2000 until his death in 2016.

Maestro Fischer has made guest appearances with the Concertgebouworkest almost every year since 1987. On 24, 25 and 26 June, he presided over the Ammodo conducting masterclass in his characteristically inimitable way. We expect him again in December as guest conductor.

The orchestra’s Managing Director David Bazen says, ‘Iván Fischer knows just how to regularly give the orchestra an artistic boost with his idiosyncratic and refreshing ideas about repertoire, orchestral arrangement and ensemble. His interest in the circumstances in which a particular composition came into being and the story behind the notes attest to his artistic kinship with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, to whom he once served as assistant. Maestro Fischer also shares with the Concertgebouworkest a passion for education. We are very pleased that Iván has accepted this title, one which is so important to the orchestra.’

Iván Fischer says, ‘The Concertgebouworkest has great musical and human qualities and I am deeply honoured to become a member of their family. Amsterdam is a city where I feel at home and I will do my best to contribute to the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful city. Here tradition and innovation are not a contradiction because the Concertgebouworkest has a great tradition OF innovation! It is a truly inspiring environment, thank you for inviting me.’


Iván Fischer studied piano, violin, cello and composition in Budapest. He went on to Vienna where he studied orchestral conducting with Hans Swarowsky. Subsequently he was Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s assistant for two seasons.

In 1983 Iván Fischer founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra. With this ensemble, of which he is still chief conductor, he introduced many innovations, such as the famous ‘Cocoa Concerts’ for young children, the ‘Midnight Music’ concerts for young audiences, surprise concerts without any announced programmes, and several education and outreach projects including a tour of former synagogues. 

In the past Iván Fischer was Music Director at Kent Opera, Opéra National de Lyon, Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, and chief conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, which named him honorary conductor.

He is active as a composer and as opera director for his Iván Fischer Opera Company. He is also the founder of several festivals, including the Vicenza Opera Festival.

His critically acclaimed CD recordings for Channel Classics received many prizes.
Iván Fischer received the prestigious Kossuth Prize, the Ovation Prize, and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award for his support of international cultural exchange. He was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Iván Fischer limits his guest conducting appearances to only three to four orchestras worldwide, in order to spend enough time and attention to his work as a composer, his Budapest Festival Orchestra, his opera company and the continuous development of creative ideas. He is a well-known advocate of human rights, democracy and tolerance.