A citadel of Hungarian concert life and musical higher education: the Liszt Academy

The Liszt AcademyBudapestGreater Budapest

Visit one of the premier venues of Hungarian concert life, the Liszt Academy (formerly the Academy of Music), itself also an imposing institution of Hungarian musical higher education. Did you know that it is the only facility named after Franz Liszt that the world-famous composer actually helped establish? 

150 years of the Liszt Academy – in brief

The world-renowned Academy of Music opened its doors in 1907, but its predecessor, the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music, was established in 1875. After the unification of Budapest in 1873, the city began to develop at an explosive pace. One result of this was that Budapest soon grew to become the cultural heart of the country. This also marked the birth of cultural institutions with national functions – and was when the demand for musical higher education arose.

The National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music was founded in the home of the deservedly famous composer Franz Liszt. When teaching began, the entire building was already available for educational use. A few years later, the Academy – now a World Heritage Site – was given its own home on Andrássy út (known at the time as Sugár út). The Academy proved to be highly popular, due to the extremely high quality of education provided by well-known teachers and the exceptionally talented students in attendance. The space available soon proved insufficient, and a new building was needed. This resulted in the construction of the current Academy building, which has since become a significant centre of Hungarian and European musical life, thanks to its excellent concert halls.

The interior of this picturesque institution is sure to astound, with its many murals, stained-glass windows and mosaics. Step through the very same door that was once used by world-renowned Hungarian musicians such as Franz Liszt, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók; and through which performers and students arrive from many different countries today.  

Interesting facts: ‘behind the scenes’ at the Liszt Academy

Whether you’re looking for a memorable concert experience, or are simply interested in learning more about the Hungarian bastion of music education and musicology, you should definitely include the Liszt Academy on your list of destinations in Budapest. We’ll let you in on some ‘behind the scenes’ secrets to look out for when you're here: 

  • You will come across a number of motifs related to Apollo and Dionysus. The reason is that in Greek mythology, these two gods were responsible for the development of the arts.
  • The curtains hanging in front of the glass windows in the Great Hall are actually the originals from 1907. The upholstery of the seats is made of the same material, so you can feel the soft velvet for yourself.
  • The armrests of the seats in the banquet hall are much lower than one would expect. According to the designers, this is because people like to relax and sink down into their chairs while listening to music.
  • The building itself is a historical oddity of architecture: very few such richly-decorated Art Nouveau buildings dedicated to music have survived from the early 20th century. The best-known other institution of this type is the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona.  

A visit the Liszt Academy is well worth your while – and if, perhaps, you are also interested in taking in a concert while you’re here, we'll let you in on a little secret: the best seats for acoustics are in the fifth row, so keep that in mind when booking your ticket. You can learn more about events and activities at the Liszt Academy here

MOVE AROUND LIKE A HUNGARIAN