CULTURE

Cultural tourism is important to Hungary and one of the big draws for UK visitors. World-class museums, art galleries and institutions, prestigious festivals, plus smaller traditional festivals throughout the country attract many visitors each year.

Hungary has an enviable cultural heritage and many Hungarians have made a name for themselves across the centuries in the fields of science, music and medicine, including gaining a handful of Nobel prizes. In music they claim some of the greats, including international renowned pianist and composer Ferenc Liszt, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. Hungary has also given the world the ballpoint pen (invented by Láslo Biró in 1931), the helicopter (invented by Oszkár Asbóth in 1928), the BMW Diesel engine (invented by Ferenc Anisits in 1983), the binocular (invented by Joseph Petzval in 1840), the Pulitzer Prize (created by Joseph Pulitzer in 1917) and of course the Rubik's Cube (invented by Ernő Rubik in 1976). Modern day Hungarians making a name for themselves include dance group, Attraction, winners of Britain's Got Talent 2013.

The Liszt Academy re-opened 22 October 2013

The Franz Liszt Academy of Music, a state university with 900 students, is the only music academy in the world founded by Franz Liszt himself in 1875. Liszt was a multi-faceted genius: piano virtuoso, composer, conductor, music teacher, author and philanthropist. The academy re-opened its doors after two years of renovation on the anniversary of the birth of Liszt on 22 October 2013. In addition to music and musicology teaching, the academy has launched its own cultural and concert programme, called the Liszt Academy Concert Centre.

The world famous art-nouveau building houses one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world and is an inspiring environment for future artists, soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players and teachers. Known as the Grand Hall it has been restored to its original splendor and is renowned not only for its fabulous design, but its unequalled acoustics. The Chamber Hall has also been restored with its orchestral pit created to the original plans with modern stage machinery and will once again provide a unique venue for chamber opera performances and ensemble concerts, attracting the world's leading musicians and performers.

The Academy renovation project is part of a large-scale cultural strategy, Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog stated, adding that the Government's goal is for Budapest to become a metropolis for music,

with six venues capable of accommodating nearly 8000 people.The 138-old building's 26-month restoration project was realised through the work of more than a thousand people, including over a hundred restorers. Experts managing the renovation have received the Knight Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit for their outstanding work, the Ministry of Human Resources announced. The Academy is equipped with modern, state-of-the-art technology, while also respecting the institution's past, Minister Balog said. He also highlighted the outstanding cooperation between the Hungarian Government and NGOs in realising the renovation.

Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, Christopher Cotton, who attended the opening event in october, said it is important for the future of Hungary's talented young musicians and emphasised that Hungarians can be proud of the academy. For more information visit www.lisztacademy.hu

Palace of Arts, Budapest

The Palace of Arts, Budapest is Hungary's long-awaited cultural hub that opened in 2005 and was built to represent more than a hundred years of Hungarian cultural history. As a conglomeration of cultural venues, the building has no precedent in 20th century Hungarian architecture and has no peers in the whole of Central Europe. The creators of this space were driven by the desire to create a new European cultural citadel as part of the new Millennium City Centre complex along the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Danube waterfront. The result is a facility whose construction quality, appearance, functionality and 21st century technological infrastructure makes it ideally suited to productions of the highest standard. The building is also highly versatile and equipped to host performances of any genre and almost any scale. For more information visit www.mupa.hu

Budapest Music Centre

The Budapest Music Center (BMC) was founded by trombone player and academy professor László Gőz in 1996 and is a unique cultural institution in Budapest. The 120-year-old former residential building has recently undergone major renovations that have seen the building transformed into an amazing contemporary space by architects, Art1st Design Studio. The Center re-opened in spring 2013 and is one of the venues for the Budapest Spring Festival for the first time this year.  The Music Centre is located in a newly emerging cultural district of Budapest and a large part of the premises are open to the public. The center concert hall the first in the capital was designed specifically for chamber music performances and can accommodate 350 people. The music library and information center currently has a database containing information about 3000 artists and 10500 compositions, and the library contains approx. 90 thousand books, notes, and records. The venue also has classrooms and conference rooms suitable for international music coursesprofessional events and gatherings, plus a 200 seat two-story private jazz club and café.

Hungarian State Opera House

This breathtaking Neo-classical building was completed in 1884, under instruction from Ferenc Jósef that it was smaller than Vienna.  Although it is indeed smaller, it has gained a reputation as having acoustics second only to La Scala and it is one of the highlights for any visitor to Budapest to experience an opera or ballet in its opulent surroundings. The Opera House is not only one of the most significant art relics of Budapest, but a symbol of the Hungarian operatic tradition of more than three hundred years. In March and April performances include Tosca, Parsifal, Figaro, The Taming of the Shrew (ballet), the King's New Clothes and Romeo and Juliet (ballet). For more information visit www.opera.hu

Hay Festival Budapest

For 25 years Hay Festival has brought together writers from around the world to debate and share stories at its festival in the staggering beauty of the Welsh Borders. Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking and came to Budapest in 2012. The 2013 Budapest Hay Festival brought a new series of conversations with some of the best innovators, poets, architects, mathematicians, novelists and musicians of our time. The programme included Péter Esterházy, one of the most widely-known contemporary Hungarian writers, Nicole Krauss, author of Great House, The History of Love and Man Walks into a Room, Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, the Anglo/Hungarian poet and translator George Szirtes, Dutch novelist Jaap Scholten, the great French architect Odile Decq,  Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, Germaine Greer bringing fresh views on Shakespeare, and the legendary American journalist and Watergate hero Carl Bernstein. For more information visit www.hayfestival.com