Reflecting Hungary’s troubled times following the Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, Lajtha’s last two symphonies are deeply emotional and dramatic works ranging from tragic intensity to optimism. Whereas the Eighth Symphony was aptly described by the composer’s wife as ‘a tragedy without consolation,’ the emotional power and the melodic beauty of the Ninth Symphony evoke suffering, happiness and hope. A huge success at its 1963 Parisian premiere, the work was acclaimed by the critic Claude Rostand as ‘the one that convinced us that Laszlo Lajtha was truly one of the greatest symphonic composers of the 20th century.’ The city of Pecs, in the South East of Hungary, is an important cultural center, with a symphony orchestra that continues a tradition of some two and a half centuries. After its reorganization in 1984, the Pecs Symphony Orchestra undertook a series of important concert tours abroad with performances throughout Europe and worked with a number of distinguished conductors. Orchestral repertoire was broadened particularly under the English conductor Howard Williams from 1989, with an increased attention to contemporary music. In 1993 Nicolas Pasquet, winner of the 1987 Besancon competition, was appointed chief conductor. The orchestra now performs as the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra.
Pécs Symphony Orchestra, Nicolás Pasquet