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Without Electricity, Hungarian Embassy Concert Relies on Candles

By Myron Belkind, The National Press Club

There was no electricity, and so the first concert that the National Press Club co-sponsored with the city’s famed Embassy Series went ahead by candlelight.

The more than 50 guests who attended the first of two nights of concerts arranged through the Club¹s International Correspondents Committee on Jan.26 made it to the Hungarian Embassy despite the severe snow storm that struck the city in late afternoon, snarling traffic, curtailing services on the Metro and knocking out power in many areas.

And they were not disappointed, as pianist Adam György gave a flawless 90-minute concert without intermission featuring the works of Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt, whose 200th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year.

At one point, the wax from the candles made two piano keys stick together, but that did not deter György from continuing his performance, and not a note was missed!

The concert was followed by a full buffet dinner with traditional Hungarian dishes that included Liszt’s favorite: an oven-baked chicken roll served with golden brown onions, potato ragout and sage jus.

On the second night of the concert, with more than 150 attending, the roads had cleared but the electricity outage from the previous day did not end until shortly before the concert began.

The embassy’s chef, Viktor Merenyi, still had all the food ready by the time the performance had ended.

The concert at the embassy marked the beginning of Hungary¹s six¹s month presidency of the European Union. It also coincided with the arrival of Hungary’s new ambassador, György Szapáry.

Club member Jerome Barry founded the Embassy Series in 1994.

Mary Ann Ericson, who attended the concert with her husband, Club member Carl Ericson, said: I felt as if we were sitting in a European salon of the 19th century listening to marvelous music in an intimate setting where we were so close to the artist and where we could talk with him afterwards.


Myron Belkind,