Six female composers introduce their newest works in two Budapest venues

In commemoration of Annie Fischer, the internationally renowned pianist, a two-part concert will be held on the 16th of October 2020 in the Inner City Parish Church in Pest and the Három Holló (Three Ravens) Café. There will be works of six female componists, with the first part only consisting of premieres and the second mixing them with older pieces, partly with the cooperation with the winners of the Annie Fischer Scholarship 2020. Host Dániel Mona, a music historian, is going to fill the breaks between the pieces with interesting information about them and Annie Fischer. Until the day of the concert, here are some tidbits about the composers:

Bernadett Tarr’s psychological journey

Bernadett Tarr, who comes from a family of artists, have visited theatres performances and schools since her childhood, and already at that time she felt fascinated by the process and all the little parts that make a show work. She came back to her early studies of piano, singing and music theory as a young adult when she was admitted to the University of Music Budapest to study composition. It turned out quickly that her specialty was the intersection of her two passions: as an applied composer, she mostly writes music for theatre, film and advertisements, or accompanying music for dance and fashion shows. As she stated in an interview some years ago:

“I didn’t intend to find my own voice. More like I wanted to see how a scene can be strengthened or weakened with music, what is the surplus it can give. (…) What I mostly like in a work is to reformulate the director’s thoughts with a different medium. That’s an exciting game, a kind of a psychological journey.”

Abigél Varga who creates from silence

Abigél Varga, on the other hand, is working on finding her own voice. After a attending a classical concert with fifteen, she realised she wanted to professionally work in this industry, but already at that point she felt it didn’t have to be a performer career. That’s how she made it to the subject of composing, where she obtained a BA degree in 2018, among others with a variant of a well-known Hungarian ballad Mistress Agnes, which was her bachelor’s piece.

She also has other poem-to-song works, like those of Hungarian national poet Sándor Petőfi, or of German Hugo Wolf that we can hear at the concert. In an interview she said that relaxing atmosphere and silence are crucial for her to compose; she mostly works in the morning, but if a project is very important for her, she also works on it mentally when having a rest or chatting with friends. She also verbalised about her generation what we can notice in the case of the other five young composers as well: other art forms play a very important role in their works, leading contemporary composing in adventurous, all-art, multimedial directions.

Petra Várallyay’s cavalcade of genres and instruments

“Something miraculous happened”

wrote the critique of the magazine Fidelio in February 2020 when Petra Várallyay gave an author’s night concert in the Solti Hall of the University of Music. The 28-year-old’s primary instrument was the violin, and this was what she played the most there, but she did her conservatory studies in jazz-piano and jazz-composition. She might be mostly known as the founding member of the Petra Várallyay Trio where she gives concerts and records albums with bass guitarist Zalán Berta and Balázs Szikora in many genres. Interestingly, she founded her band during the year she restrained from any institutional studies of music for the first time since she was a little child. She went back to the University of Music afterwards, where she studied jazz-composition and classical violin, doing many different things at the same time regarding composing and making music.

Zsófia Persányi’s search for the artistic process

The only 21-year-old composer and pianist studied in the King Saint Stephan Music School and the University of Music Budapest, then the University of Music Stuttgart. We could see her playing the piano at concerts of the Zugló Philharmonics or the Beethoven in Buda Festival at the Budapest City Hall. At the upcoming concert, three of her works will be on the programme to showcase her other side: the composer. We can guess from her words from last year that even her piano play is influenced by this other identity…

“For me, a personal relationship with the piece is very important, just like finding out about the artistic process, the origin of the elements and gestures chosen by the composer, as much as possible. This information can be found in the draft versions in the most authentic way. Although I always start the process with the sheet, but it is also an important phase when I examine other people’s ideas on the given piece.”

Petra Szászi whose music was inspired by Bukowski

With young composers it is always an issue that they didn’t have too many chances (or they didn’t want) to talk about their compositions in press. I saw this clearly with Zsófia Persányi, but even more with still very young, 23-year-old Petra Szászi, as there seems to be no interview available with her on her pieces or life as a composer. However, I found her Facebook and Instagram pages, feeling like only checking on a friend’s friend. If I had to summarise her in one word, I would say: alter. So it was no surprise to find her name on the playbill of some alternative theatres where she contributed as a composer. We can hear her works Chignon and Cigarette and Here, Beyond the Chimneys at the concert, but until then it is worth checking out her music on Youtube. We can also find the bit less “alterish” info on her StageHive page that she studied at the Béla Bartók Music School and then the University of Music Budapest.

Csenge Mihalicza and the Renaissance fun

I bet you also notice this title from the concert programme: How did the meeting occur between Pantagruel and the Limusian who tortured his French mother tongue. Renaissance writer François Rabelais’s satirical novel and his hero Pantagruel (a mythological giant) inspired Csenge Mihalicza, who won third prize at the Generace International Composing Competition in the category ‘not older than 21 years old’ this April. In the second half, we can hear two other pieces by her – and musicians can show that they are just as colossal as Pantagruel was in the first part.