Classical music

As the birthplace of Franz Liszt, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók, it's no wonder that Hungary has a proud tradition of teaching and performing classical music and continues to contribute amazing talent to the world. There are many opportunities to enjoy classical music in Budapest from sitting in gilded concert halls to lounging on beanbags.

The Hungarian State Opera House, which opened in 1884 is a masterpiece of star architect Miklos Ybl and a jewel of Andrássy Avenue. The building alone is worth a visit, and there are guided tours every day in English, German, Spanish, Italian and French and in Japanese and Russian several times a week. Whether you are an avid opera and ballet fan or a novice, you should try and catch a performance at the Budapest Opera. Tickets are extremely economical by international standards and enjoying a night surrounded by 19th century gold, marble and red velvet magnificence is incomparable. The recently fully-renovated Erkel Theatre is the Opera's sister institution and second performance space, and has the country's largest auditorium. The Pesti Vìgadó is another splendid example of 19th century architecture, and while the building is celebrating its 150th birthday, it has only recently been fully restored and reopened as a concert hall. The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music was founded in 1875 by the legendary pianist and composer and continues to foster exceptional talent today. The Liszt Academy Concert Centre in the recently refurbished art nouveau building is at the heart of musical life in Budapest, with orchestral and chamber music, classical and jazz, performed by outstanding musicians from Hungary and abroad. The Liszt Museum has been established in the musician's former apartment filled with manuscripts, rare instruments and personal objects.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Palace of Arts is an astonishing 21st century building, a unique cultural centre that is capable of hosting large scale and high quality productions. Its centrepiece, the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall has been built to state-of-the-art acoustic specifications and ranks among the best performance spaces worldwide. Its other claim to fame is the organ, one of the largest concert organs in the world. While the Palace of Arts' programme is packed with visiting international artists, it is also the venue where two world renowned Hungarian orchestras, the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Budapest Festival Orchestra regularly perform when they are not touring abroad. The National Philharmonic is led by award winning pianist and conductor Zoltán Kocsis, who was also one of the founding members of Budapest Festival Orchestra. The BFO, under the artistic direction of conductor Iván Fischer has become one of the world's ten best orchestras in its relatively short history of three decades and puts great emphasis on reaching younger audiences. At the Midnight Music Concerts the orchestra performs the same classical music but late at night, leaving the formal setting behind, where audience members can sit on beanbags amongst the musicians if they wish. Budapest Music Center is another futuristic performance space, opened in 2013 it combines classicist architecture with modern, state of the art concert halls that host classical, chamber music and jazz concerts.

Throughout the year festivals like the Budapest Spring, Summer and Autumn, the Jewish Summer Festival, Budapest Wagner Days or the Bridging Europe Festival are guaranteed to satiate the most voracious musical appetites.