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Published on Nov 26, 2009
In response to a request: Gyorgy Cziffra's historic performance of the second piano concerto by Bela Bartok, live from Budapest 1956, movement one: Allegro
In his memoirs Cziffra writes "The great day arrived and the concert was a triumph of some portent. The audience was a cross-section of a people weary of the excesses of a regime whose victorious army had, after eleven years, still not returned home. Despite its stupefying complexity, the music is perfectly structured, which enabled me to surpass myself so that it seemed like molten lava to the audience. Some two thousand people, normally so disciplined, rushed from the hall singing the National Anthem, ripping down, as they ran along the nearby streets and avenues, anything bearing emblems other than the national flag. There was an uprising and the government (responsible for an even worse police state than the one they had copied) fled to a new refuge. The frontier half opened. While people rushed into the breach in tens of thousands, the revolt was rapidly put down and a new regime did its best to gloss it over as a mere passing error. Time was running out: the breaches in the demarcation line were being closed. This time, I chose exile of my own accord. I was quite ready to assume my status as a free man and artist."
In memory of the repression which ensued, Cziffra never played the concerto again.