Pesti Vigado Concert Hall, or often simply Vigado, is on the Pest side of the city of Budapest, on the Danube Promenade, which stretches from the Chain Bridge to the sleek modern Elisabeth Bridge. The Vigado was built in 1865, opened by Franz Liszt with his oratorio (The Legend of Holy Elizabeth (sic)) – from the beginning it was meant to be a Palace of Merriment or Fun House.
Pesti Vigado Concert Hall, Budapest
The Pesti Vigado Concert Hall was used for balls, concerts with outstanding musicians, composers and conductors, like Johannes Brahms, Camille Saint-Saens, Claude Debussy, Bruno Walter, Herbert von Karajan, Emil Sauer, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein and of course Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok. (Mind you, there are two Vigado buildings in Budapest, the Pesti Vigado Concert Hall is on the Pest side of the city, while the Budai Vigado Concert is on the Buda side.)
The former building of the Vigado Concert Hall, called Redout (where Johann Strauss and the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (Ferenc Liszt) gave concerts and Louis Kossuth big patriotic speeches) was destroyed by the Austrian Hentzi General during the mid 19th century Hungarian revolution (with a marathon length of 2 years).
Then the new romantic Pesti Vigado was built between 1859 and 1865 by Frigyes Feszl. Its facade is overlooking the river Danube. There are six allegorical figures (originally added in in the 1880s) on the facade, each representing a traditional Hungarian musical instrument (from left to right in the following order, with the name of the sculptors)
- Syrinx / Pan-pipe – Gyula Donáth
- Tybia / Double flute – Ferenc Vasadi
- Drum – Gyula Szász
- Lyra / Lute – Béla Brestyánszky
- Triangulum – Lajos Muderlak (aka,Lajos Mátrai Sr.)
- Cymbal – Alajos Stróbl.
Since all of the above statues were completely damaged during the siege of Budapest in 1944-45, as was the building itself in utter ruins, in fact what you see today are mostly resculpted replicas. Yes, Vigado enjoyed a happy few bustling decades from 1865 as a public entertainment palace and concert hall, until the World War II thoroughly ruined the romantic building of Pesti Vigado Concert Hall. Interestingly enough, restoration works only started in the 1970’s (for some reason it took almost 30 years for the Socialist government to rebuild the Vigado to its former glory in 1980). The interior is brand new, recently completed in – well, since 2006 or so, there have been plans to re-open the gates of the Pesti Vigado. Our last news is that at the beginning of 2011 there were promises to get things done by October… In the meantime, please enjoy the beautiful building from the outside.
In addition to the various concert rooms in the building, there is an art gallery where contemporary art exhibitions take place. Pesti Vigado is on the Danube Promenade, where you can also see the lovely Little Princess statue, a tourist icon (usually photoed with the Buda Castle in the background, which is a really great topic for both amateur and professional photography).
The facade of Pesti Vigado from the river Danube (click to enlarge the photo):
Historical head figures on the facade of Pesti Vigado Concert Hall, Budapest. In the middle you can see the Hungarian Crest and the exceptional political figures of Hungarian history, kings (e.g. King Matthias – as in Matthias Church, Matthias Well, or Count Istvan Szechenyi – as in Szechenyi Bath or Szechenyi Chain Bridge):
Romantic staircase and wall fresco in the Pesti Vigado Concert Hall, Budapest (click to enlarge the photo):