Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Ivan Fischer

Well balanced feature in the current Europe's Troublemakers series on BBC Radio 4, a fifteen-minute radio feature from Lucy Ash –
In Hungary, she meets Ivan Fischer  the conductor and composer who is holding up a mirror to Hungarian society and using culture to expose growing racial intolerance. The success of the extreme right wing party Jobbik in the 2010 elections prompted him to write an opera denouncing anti-Semitism. Fischer's opera, The Red Heifer draws on an incident 130 years ago when a young girl went missing in a village in North East Hungary. Local Jews were accused of murdering the 14-year-old and were eventually acquitted but blood libel stories such as these still resonate more than a century later. But some have accused Fischer of cultural politicking and say he is in danger of besmirching the country's image abroad. Lucy catches up with the composer as he rehearses for his next performance.

I thought that Ivan Fischer spoke more fairly and level-mindedly about the whole business than I have heard from anyone, in or out of Hungary. I really warmed to him.

My gratitude to my Radio 4-listening correspondent who drew this to my attention.

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