Memo April 2012


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in April 2012

Why so late? Salzburg. (Last entry.)

Creative EU

The European Commission has come forward with a useful document on the third leg of the future Creative Europe programme, the financial instrument. In BO eyes a major rationale for combining the former Media and Culture programmes lies in adapting certain features of the former to the latter. Media has provided “support to works with commercial potential and well established operators in terms of track record and financial capacity” (says this paper). This definition applies to a number of cultural operators. They deserve increased attention, without re-categorising them as industries and removing them from the vicinity of subsidised, not-for-profit cultural actions. The paper convincingly argues for the extension of the support to sectors adjacent to culture (design, architecture, video games etc.). Clear is the reasoning for adding preferential loans to the support tools, and useful is the detailed presentation of the new instrument.

What could have been added to the 24 pages is a rough estimate of the share of actual Media and Culture clients from the resources of the new financial instrument in relation to the expected share of the additional creative operations (design, architecture…). It is inconceivable that the device is launched without such prior approximations.

Some of the haze could also be dissolved by breaking down the mantra of “4.5% of the EU's GDP accounted for by the creative sector” into those three domains (audiovisuals, culture, as well as design, architecture and Co; see the sample.)

Classical music

Budapest hosted, and BO attended the annual conference of IAMA, “the only worldwide association for classical music artist managements”. On this occasion we screened various databases and rank lists to check positions of our region in various aspects of classical music. Here is a condense visualisation of our findings on the distance of eastern Europeans from the leader of a category in classical music:

The graph needs explanation. Each line represents the relative weight of the best nine east-European score as a percentage of the top of the list. Take a look at the first line. In the catalogue of a leading American distributor the list of composers is led by Mozart with 7468 items. The best from our region is Chopin whose 2596 records represent 35% of Mozart’s score, followed by Liszt, 31% etc. down to 9th position Kodály: 271 items, 4% to Mozart. Details are found at the very bottom of this message. 

The greatest the gap is behind top opera composer Verdi (line 6). On the other hand, the opera penetration of the region is on a par with the rest of the world (lines 9-10).

Emerging Balts

Poles have excelled in the latest awards: Krzysztof Penderecki received lifetime special award from ICMA (International Classical Music Award), and Piotr Anderszewski got the instrumental recording award from BBC Music Magazine. Yet no Pole attended the IAMA conference against the five companies from the three Baltic states and four members in the association.  

There are other proofs of the current Baltic advances in the classical music field. Following a Latvian winner last year, Salzburg Festival has bestowed a Lithuanian lady with the 2012 young conductor award ahead of 90 other contenders. Four of the nine living east European opera composers among the global top 100 four are from the three small countries (line 7 in the graph), and the 2009/10 season saw 125 opera performances per one million Estonians: a higher frequency than in Germany or Switzerland!

Global seminar

A glance at the website of the Salzburg Global Seminar or at its venue, the 18th century Schloss Leopoldskron is enough to appreciate the privilege I had as participant to the latest seminar session, the 490th in a row that began in 1947.

Culture pops up in numerous titles in the great variety of Salzburg seminars. The history of the building is attached to no smaller cultural figure than Max Reinhardt. When he bought the Schloss in 1918, it was in poor shape. Reinhardt then spent most of his income to renewing and enriching the building, which was host to hundreds of cultural personalities before the Nazis confiscated it in 1938.

What did the highly selective group come up to about its theme? BO would gladly provide you with a trailer in this memo to the final report – but it would burst the frames of a paragraph. The term cultural diplomacy was less used than inter(trans)national cultural (arts in American) exchange or engagement. The tectonic shift towards emerging powers (from Europe and the US) appears to have a greater effect on the issue than the economic crisis – but in what way? Does it favour the values most often pronounced in the Schloss as respect, trust, curiosity, sustainability, dynamism, “people-to-people”? What way will the balance tilt between nation branding utilitarianism and holistically reciprocal altruism? Looking forward to how our rapporteur András tackles the ideas expressed in the august setting.


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The aim was to detect the actual distance of east-central European musicians from the top in various categories. Coming back on the example based on the first line, both in the graph and the table below: The website of the leading American distributor ArkivMusic shows the number of recordings in its catalogues. The catalogue contains 7468 recordings of Mozart's music: this is 100%. Mozart is followed by Bach (7200), Beethoven (5806), Brahms (4065), Verdi (3546), Händel (3030), Mendelsohn (2759), and then comes the first composer from our region: Chopin with 2596 recordings. This is 35% of Mozart's 7468. The table shows the next composers from east-central Europe, and the graph visualises their respective percentage distance from the top, in this case from W.A. Mozart. Kodály, the artist with the ninth greatest amount of recordings from the region is represented with 271 items, which is 4% related to Mozart, as shown in the drawing. (The numbers in ArkivMusic catalogue keep changing, growing and decreasing, depending on the available records in stock.) 


Line #




Top nine from east-central Europe


Composers’ records

Mozart (7468)

Chopin,  Liszt,  Dvořák,  Bartók,  Smetana,  Janáček,  Lehár,  Martinů,  Kodály


Conductors’ records

Karajan (1113)

Ormándy, Solti, Järvi, Széll, Doráti, Wit, Halász*


Orchestras’ records

London Symphony (2043)

Czech Philharmonic, Slovak Radio Symphony, Slovak Philharmonic, Slovak Radio Symphony Bratislava, Polish Radio Symphony, Slovak State Philharmonic Kosice, Warsaw Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonic Chorus, Budapest Symphony


Performers’ records

Domingo (630)

Jandó, Popp, Ghiaurov, Gruberová, Schiff*


Symphonic orchestras

European Orchestras Forum

Germany (180)

Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania


Opera composers


Verdi (2259)

Lehár, Janáček, Kálmán, Dvořák, Smetana, Moniuszko, Martinů, Korngold, Szymanowski


Living opera composers


Glass (41)

Eötvös, Lūsēns, Penderecki, Suchý, Tüür, Esenvalds, Kutavicius, Rudzinski, Bruzdowicz




Die Zauberflöte (451)

Die lustige Witwe, Rusalka, Jenůfa, Die Csárdásfürstin, Prodaná nevěsta, Das Land des Lächelns, Gräfin Mariza, The Cunning Little Vixen


Opera perfomances


Berlin (594)

Prague, Budapest, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Bratislava, Tallinn, Poznan, Ostrava, Riga


Opera performances per million inhabitants


Austria (163)

Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania, Croatia, Poland


*The source contains no more names.