"When I play chess at least I don't have to have a conversation about music with musicians who are not always particularly witty." (Ferenc Erkel)
On 2 February 1853 the National Theatre presented a mime performance called A Game of Chess, which is based on an 81 move game between the two best chess players of the age, Ferenc Erkel and József Szén. Ferenc Erkel was the author of this ballet, of which neither orchestral score nor libretto have survived, only the playbill and reviews from the contemporary press. So, Ferenc Erkel is an emblematic figure, not only of the art of Hungarian music, but also of the history of Hungarian chess. The music of the performance was largely composed by Erkel, but, as was customary at the time, he also used popular dance tunes.
The Gyula Castle Theatre decided to reconstruct the lost piece in 2010 - Erkel memorial year, and they asked Csaba Horváth and the Forte Company to realise it. The libretto of the single act ballet, completed in the summer, is based on the lyrical text of poet Balázs Szálinger. The ballet is autobiographically inspired, which also includes the failure of Erkel's international career and the bitterness he felt about it: in this respect it gives a faithful picture of the Alexander Bach era. The musical material of the ballet, which has the subtitle Sound and War, is based on piano pieces composed by Erkel, from a recording performed by István Kassai on the piano and Ferenc Szecsődi on the violin. The premiere of the freshly created Game of Chess was in the Gyula Castle Theatre on 20 July 2010.
Chess Game - Forte Company
18 January 7 pm - National Dance Theatre/Nemzeti Táncszínház (District 1, Színház utca 1-3.)
Performed by Máté Andrássy, Borbála Blaskó, Gábor Bora, Virgil Horváth, József Kádas, Csaba Krisztik, Viktória Nagy, Beatrix Simkó, Vera Sipos, Tamás Vati
Music: Ferenc Erkel
Libretto: Balázs Szálinger
Sets and costumes: Kentaur
Directed and choreographed by Csaba Horváth