Fall brings a series of classical music events to Bratislava. Last Friday, September 28th, kicked off the 16 day long Bratislava Music Festival. Most of the events will be performed in the large and small halls of the newly renovated Reduta Philharmonic. Additionally, some events will be performed in the Old National Theater (aka Old Opera House) and in St. Martin’s Cathedral. Young artists will compete in the same venues where seasoned veterans will perform. The finals of the young artists competition is a perennially popular event. In neighboring Vienna, there is a 13 year waiting list for the Vienna Philharmonic season tickets. Classical music is taken seriously in this corner of Europe.
We grabbed tickets for Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend, along with Monday night. We will also attend a performance Friday night of the final weekend. It is an embarrassment of riches for the classical music buff. Saturday, we enjoyed the Bratislava Boys’ Choir who were accompanied by Bratislava based musicians and soloists. The church was overflowing – a mix of proud parents and grandparents flashing photos along with music fans like ourselves. They performed a mix of legendary composers; Handel, Tost, Pachebel – along with a premier of a contemporary Slovak composition. I enjoy church music, particularly when performed in one of the acoustically perfect cathedrals of Europe.
Construction of St. Martin’s Cathedral finished in 1453. For nearly 300 years, during the period of Turkish occupation in Budapest, it was the coronation church for the Empire of Hungary. The tower is topped with a gold-plated replica of the crown of St. Stephens to signify this as a coronation church. As cathedral histories go, this one can go toe to toe with the best in Europe.
Sunday, we joined our friends Igor and Vlasta for a concert in the small hall of the Reduta. The pieces were largely avant guarde. My favorite piece was composed by Bratislava native son, Alexander Albrecht. For decades in the middle of the 20th century, he presided as music director of St. Martin’s. Monday, Pat attended the Slovak Radio Symphony with Igor. This allowed Pat to scratch one more item off his Bratislava bucket list.
On October 12th, American friends will join us for one of the crowning concerts of the festival as Joshua Bell performs with the St. Martin in the Field’s Symphony. Three powerhouse pieces await; Beethoven’s First Symphony, Bruch’s Violin Concerto Number 1, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony Number 3. This performance, in the main hall of the Reduta, will be a night to remember. I’m proud the American Embassy elected to sponsor this event and proud that our new home has the classical music muscle to pull off such a world class 16 day program. There is no more affordable way to enjoy a buffet of classical music events in stunning, historic venues. Bratislava is the smallest capital in Europe. But when it comes to classical music, it delivers a big punch.
The easiest way to get tickets is to stop by the ticket hall in the Reduta from Monday 9 AM to 7:30 PM (closed between 2 and 3PM), and other weekdays from 1 PM to 7:30 PM. Saturday and Sunday they open for an hour before the concert. Tickets range from 12 to 30 Euro.
I believe last minute tickets will be available for most performances. Bring a concert brochure with you as the ticket agents speak limited English (no worries, they are very nice).
Categories: Insiders Bratislava