Completed in 1907, Budapest’s Academy of Music, called Liszt’s Academy is one of the world’s music institute – other one is Moscow Consevatory -, which hosts the city’s primary concert hall and the scene of musical education under one roof. By the time it was built, Franz Liszt, the genial pianist and composer long gone, but the Academy of which he became president and founder in 1875 continued to flourish, and required a new place. The Old Academy  on Andrassy street – home to Liszt also – today a museum dedicated to his memory.

Its successor, the New Academy was designed Floris Korbl and Kalman Griegl in neo-Renessaince style, though the structure – specially the interior – is Art-Noveau. The facade is dominated by a statue of Liszt (sculpted by Alajos Stróbl). The inside of the building is decorated with frescoes, shiny Zsolnay ceramics, and several statues (among them that of Bela Bartók and Frederic Chopin). Originally the building also had stained glass windows created by Miksa Róth.  Continuing a tradition of the 19th century – when concert halls were built as shrines to the ancient-Greek god of music Apollo, and theaters were established as sanctuaries dedicated to the god of theater, Dionysus – the building’s ornaments are mostly dominated by motifs from Greek mythology, and diverse references to this duo of deities are found all around the building. Given the organic unity of its iconographic system, the entire edifice is interwoven by a sub- and superordinating hierarchical structure based on architectural and decorative oppositions. As the horizontal side elements of the main façade are contrasted with a vertically divided avant-corps towering in the middle, so the three-storey-high Grand Hall emerges from the lower built lobby space. Similarly, the two sides of the façade are decorated with water-associated motifs, which is repeated in the foyer by the blue-coloured majolica plates, the globes with their sparkling water and bubble patterns, and the wave ornamentation of the cornice upstairs. The world that rises above the waters like an island belongs to Apollo: this is represented on the front façade by the Doric columns fashioned after the composition of the triumphal arches. In the Grand Hall, however, the effect of the constructed elements is only secondary. Here, the successive arches have the role of holding the symbolic vegetation which dominates the room: the laurel tree fills in and pervades the entire space from floor to ceiling, forming groves to shade the interior and casting dots of shadows onto the side walls. The laurel strikes its black roots on the ground floor, only to run its green trunks up the sidewalls, and finally cover the vault with its golden foliage. The Doric façade, featuring swans and lyres, represents the Temple of Apollo, and the deity is also endowed with the attributes of the Egyptian sun god (sun discs, obelisks, pyramidia, egyptianizing heads, pylons). The laurel grove is Apollo’s holy sanctuary on the island – also reminiscent of his shrine on the island of Delos –, with swans, lyres, serpent-decorated altars and the double portrait of the deity himself. In Apollo’s symbolic grove the most eminent place is occupied by the organ and the other musical allusions, among them the depictions of the swan song.

Budapest’s Academy of Music today attracts students from the four corners of the world as one of the top music schools.