The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem, often abbreviated as Zeneakadémia, “Music Academy”) is a concert hall and music conservatory in Budapest, Hungary, founded on November 14, 1875. It is home to the Liszt Collection, which features several valuable books and manuscripts donated by Franz Liszt upon his death, and the AVISO studio, a collaboration between the governments of Hungary and Japan to provide sound recording equipment and training for students. The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music was founded by Franz Liszt himself (though named after its founder only in 1925, approx. 50 years after it was relocated to its current location at the heart of Budapest). Between 1877-1879 the Academy moved into its present building, a masterpiece of art Neo-Renaissance architecture.
Music and musicians are born in the Liszt Academy. This is a harbour to and from which ships carry musicians. The teaching of music – all areas of classical music, jazz, folk music, church music, composition, musicology and music teacher training – takes place here, in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, while the nurturing stages are conducted in the Bartók Conservatory, the university’s secondary school of teaching practice and preparatory institution.
The main building, with two concert halls, is the hub of concert life in the capital. Virtually every significant performer and ensemble of the 20th century has appeared on the stage of the Grand Hall, exhaling their art onto the invisible wavelengths of the incomparable acoustics of the chamber, merging it into the spellbound audience, an audience that surrounds the artist in the same way that a clapper is encompassed by the body of a bell. The most significant young talents introduce themselves in this unrivalled atmosphere, students of the academy can share in this as can those individuals yearning for music who make up the audience of the Liszt Academy.
Teaching and performing in concert are closely intertwined at the Liszt Academy. Its unique characteristic is, on the one hand, being one of the most distinguished universities on the intellectual bourse of international academies of music, while on the other hand it is one of the most precious gems among the finest concert halls anywhere in the world… Two facets of one institution, or the common profile of two institutions? Who can say? The essence is the unity of this duality.
The Liszt Academy is rooted in Hungarian music traditions and those of the region, and these traditions remain unbroken. Its long-standing departments are structured like a family tree; the teachers, and their teachers, of professors giving classes today can be traced back to the founders of departments, to Liszt, Hubay, Popper, Robert Volkmann and Hans von Koessler. In departments founded at a later date, for instance musicology, which was established by Zoltán Kodály, Bence Szabolcsi and Dénes Bartha, the craft is passed down, figuratively speaking, from father to son. Folk music is one of the leading threads that run right through the history of the Liszt Academy; it defines not only new Hungarian composition but, principally via Kodály, highly advanced and successful Hungarian music pedagogy, too. The ‘youngest’ department of the Liszt Academy, that is, the department of folk music, preserves this with great tenacity.