Prominent conductor Ivan Fischer comes to Athens at the beginning of next week to lead the Budapest Festival Orchestra in works by Bartok, Smetana and Dvorak. The two concerts on Monday and Tuesday are part of the Great Orchestra Series at the Athens Concert Hall. Born into a Hungarian family in 1951, Fischer studied piano, violin and cello in Budapest before moving to Vienna, where he graduated from Hans Swarowsky’s renowned conducting school. Fischer came into the international spotlight at the age of 25 after winning the Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition. This award led a number of major orchestras to extend invitations, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others. In 1983, along with fellow Hungarian Zoltan Kocsis, Fischer founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra, thus putting his musical ideas into practice. He introduced, for instance, a new balance between orchestral and chamber music, while he altered the rehearsal system by extending it. With the orchestra, Fischer travels extensively to perform at coveted events, such as the Salzburg and Edinburgh festivals and the BBC Proms, among other venues. In 1995, Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra signed an exclusive recording contract with electronics manufacturer Philips to record all major works by Bartok as well as works by Liszt and Dvorak. «A dragon with hundred heads,» says Fischer of orchestras, adding, «The conductor’s part is not in the score.» Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra will perform the following works: On Monday, Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Orchestra, and Smetana’s overture from the «Bartered Bride,» as well as «Ma Vlast» (The Moldau, Sarka and From the Fields and Groves of Bohemia) by Smetana. On Tuesday, it will play Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations along with with Bartok’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 and Concerto for Orchestra. Also on Tuesday, Anastasios Pappas will perform as the soloist. Ivan Fischer and The Budapest Festival Orchestra are appearing on January 7 and 8 at the Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 728.2000. Deciding whose focus on the island’s architecture was closer to the truth is, to a certain degree, a matter of debate. This is largely because by the time Argentis began his project, two large disasters – the 1822 massacre of Chios and a large earthquake 60 years later – had greatly destroyed the island’s original architecture. Still, the collaboration between Pikionis and Argentis, although incomplete at the time, remains an interesting story of two men, their different viewpoints and the ways that these reflected the broader spirit of their time.