I have been very curious about this building on Lónyay U. in IX district: the Budapest Music Center. Sporting a very 90s-ish sign that looks like something found in a dumpster behind Frank Gehry's house, this place warms my heart every time I walk past it. I mean, every great city of the world should have an official music center with such an extroverted presence.
But what the hell IS the Budapest Music Center?
I'm still trying to figure it out, exactly. It seems that the heart of the Budapest Music Center is the building sporting the groovy sign and the archive within. Founded in 1996 by trombonist/professor László Gőz, the Budapest Music Center exists to provide a repository for Hungarian jazz and classical music, and to advance awareness of Hungarian contributions to contemporary music in these genres.
There is a music library containing works of 20th-21st century Hungarian composers, a collection that, according to their website, consists of 7400 books and periodicals, 5600 LPs, 800 cassettes, 2380 CDs and 13600 (instrumental and choral) scores. And all access is free!
They have a music label with a lot of people I've never heard of. But since it's primarily a jazz label, that's par for the course. Jazz labels are always stocked with people you never heard of because most famous jazz musicians have developed the unfortunate habit of being dead. The curious American can glean some of the quality from the lineups though by noting that Archie Shepp and Herbie Mann make appearances with local talent here and there. So you cynical expats can relax - Hungarian jazzmasters must be doing something right.
The aforementioned record label, BMC, has a roster of important home grown talent such as the Mihály Borbély Quartet and the incomparable Peter Eötvös - he of the opera Angels in America and the audacious Beethoven's 5th symphony with the wacko mic placement on the Ensemble Modern's string section.