St. Gellert International Music Festival

The St. Gellert International Music Festival was established in 2008 by Swiss composer-conductor Robert Bachmann, together with Bishop Lázlo Kisrigó of Szeged-Csanád, Hungary.

A new classical music performance dimension was to be added to Szeged, a city already rich in culture with a symphony orchestra and an opera house. Yoon Kuk Lee, a Korean-Austrian conductor, was appointed music director for his extensive career in the field. From the outset, the primary objective of the festival was to ensure that Szeged was not left out of the new wave of historical interpretation praxis that has been sweeping the European music scene for more than a decade. To put it differently, the festival was to bring musical experiences to Szeged public that were becoming increasingly celebrated in global music metropolises such as Vienna, Amsterdam, London, or elsewhere.

Thus, the festival’s first project was to present a complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies. Its performances were to be lively, thrilling, and spontaneous, like the way music must have sounded in the time of Beethoven. It then ventured into other composers of the so-called Vienna Classic, such as Mozart and Haydn, along with master composers of the Baroque period.

These concerts were shared with music enthusiasts in Budapest on a number of occasions in venues such as the Vigado Concert Hall, the Matthias Church, and the Franz Liszt Hall, as well as with the Czech public at the Lednice-Valtic Festival.
The festival’s keen interest in music before the Romantics culminated in the founding of an ensemble with original period instruments under the title St. Gellert Baroque Players, led by renown Hungarian Baroque violinist Mónika Tóth.
For the chamber concerts, artists were invited who shared the same outlook and approach as the festival.

Over the years, the festival has also focused on promoting highly gifted young international and Hungarian players. The music director Yoon Kuk Lee’s teaching position at the Mozarteum Music University of Salzburg gave him easy access to numerous international talents such as those from Korea, Russia, Poland, China, Austria, Italy, Japan, USA among others, while the famous TV classical music show Virtuozok introduced Hungarian talents, such as Misi Boros, Bianca Szauer and Soma Balázs-Piri etc.

Not only were numerous young artists present, but also highly acclaimed international artists shared the podium with renowned Hungarian soloists such as Barnabás Kelemen, Dénes Várjon, Katalin Kokas, Gergely Bogany, Levente Molnar, Lilla Horti, Emöke Baráth, and Dora Kokas, exemplifying the theme of “Music unites the globe.”

In 2019, Yoon Kuk Lee was promoted to the position of artistic director and intendant.

Under his leadership, the festival perpetuated its spirit, offering refreshingly new interpretations of the traditional concert repertoire.