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History – The Famous Visit of Ferenc Erkel to Debrecen

In mid-February 1952, MAFILM began filming a feature film about Erkel’s life and his visit to Debrecen.  The recordings made during the filming can be viewed on the website of the Déri Museum.

Between 18 and 21 September 1868, the 4th National Song Festival was held in Debrecen Debrecen became the center of the music world and attracted many singers and conductors for a few days. 

Ferenc Erkel

The conductor of the National Theater’s orchestra, Ferenc Erkel, arrived the day before, accompanied by his son Sándor. Ferenc Erkel was a famous Hungarian composer, conductor, and pianist. He worked as a piano teacher at the Hungarian Academy of Music until 1886 and as the musical director of the Hungarian State Opera House opened in Budapest in 1884. He composed the music of “Anthem”, the national anthem of Hungary, which was adopted in 1844.

The next morning, the singers gathered in front of the Reformed Great Church at 9.30 AM to begin rehearsals for the pieces to be sung together. The performance was conducted by Ferencz Erkel and in the presence of the public.

On the same evening, Erkel also conducted a concert at the theater, and then singing rehearsed in the church performed under his direction could be heard at the stage of the Cegléd Street. The event was attended by a total of 845 Dalarians who sang “Szózat”, a Hungarian patriotic song that is considered as a second national anthem of Hungary, along with an audience of about 6,000.