As part of CEU's 25th anniversary celebrations, Chairman of the CEU Board of Trustees Leon Botstein conducted the Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra through pieces that reflect CEU's history as both a Hungarian and American university. The June 25 musical celebration took place at Budapest's grand Liszt Academy, with soloist Xheni Rroji on piano. Music has played a vital and pivotal role in the history of politics, culture and society in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the U.S. The variety of musical selections was also intended to honor the diversity within CEU’s distinctively international student body.
The concert opened with a Hungarian homage to the grand international aspiration of Western classical and concert music: Leo Weiner’s magnificent orchestration of Bach. Weiner was a distinguished and beloved composer, pianist and teacher at the Liszt Academy, and a contemporary and colleague of Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly.
The evening proceeded with one of the two great piano concertos by a composer whose music and personality have become inextricably linked to the ideals and character of modern Polish nationalism: Frederic Chopin. Following intermission, CEU President and Rector John Shattuck narrated one of the iconic works from the 1940s in America, Aaron Copland’s setting of words by Abraham Lincoln. Few pieces of music so powerfully evoke the highest ethical aspirations of democracy.
The program closed with the popular orchestral Sinfonietta by Leos Janacek, a thrilling musical experience which, using folk tunes, dances and marches, celebrated the creation and independence of a new democratic nation.
To view all concert images, visit the Flickr album here.