Following the unification of Pest, Buda and Óbuda in 1873, the issue of street names became extremely timely, and many public places received new, Hungarian names.
This was partly due to the desire to strengthen national identity, as Hungary at the time was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the 5th District, for example, Hatvani Street was renamed after the leading figure of the Hungarian Revolution in 1848-49, Lajos Kossuth, and part of the Untere Donau Zeile (Lower Danube Embankment) was renamed Petőfi Square to honour the famous poet who died in that war. For a similar reason, the need to support independent, national art gained special importance.
As tyrannical rule following the suppression of the Revolution slowly let up, and the 1867 Accord allowed for a more peaceful coexistence, there were more opportunities to do so.
A significant example was the opening in Pest in 1875 of the Academy of Music, which made higher music education available in the country for the first time. Franz Liszt, the world famous composer and pianist, was elected as its first president. The institute was initially located close to what is today March 15th Square, and was later moved to Andrássy Avenue. Its current, art deco building was completed in 1907.
The beginnings of higher education in fine arts also date back to this period: the predecessor of today’s University of Fine Arts was founded in 1871.
Andrássy (Sugár) Road 71, Royal Hungarian School of Pattern Drawing (now Hungarian University of Fine Arts). To the left is Izabella Street. The photo was made around 1878 (source: Fortepan / Budapest City Archives / Photos of György Klösz)
The Theatre School opened a few years earlier, in 1865, to train opera singers and actors for the National Theatre. The history of the National Theatre dates back to the pre-revolutionary era: its first building was inaugurated in 1837 close to the current Astoria subway station, and was called the Pest Hungarian Theatre until it was renamed in 1840. Its repertoire initially featured opera, musical and prose pieces, but that was later changed. Comedies, folk plays and operettas moved to the People’s Theatre on Blaha Lujza Square, which opened in 1875 and was designed by the Viennese architect Ferdinand Fellner in neo-Renaissance style. Operas were moved to the magnificent neo-Renaissance Opera House, designed by Miklós Ybl and completed on Andrássy Avenue in 1884, which still functions today.
People's Theater (the later National Theatre) on today's Blaha Lujza Square, viewed from Rákóczi (Kerepesi) Street. The photo was made around 1875 (source: Fortepan / Budapest City Archives / Photos of György Klösz)
The People’s Theatre ceased to function in its old form in 1908. The National Theatre was moved to its building on Blaha Lujza Square, then later to the Thalia Theatre on Nagymező Street, and in 1966, to a building on Hevesi Sándor Square in the 7th District. Its current building by the Danube in the Millennium City Center was inaugurated in 2002.
The Millenium City Centre was initially developed in connection with the Vienna-Budapest World exhibition planned for 1995, an event which never took place. From the 1880s to the fall of communism, the Budapest-Danube freight station operated on the site, providing rail links to the Main Customs House, Central Market, and other large warehouses and factories in the vicinity.
Today, in addition to the National Theatre, it is also the location of the Palace of Arts (otherwise known as MÜPA), which is home to musical-, visual- and theatre performances, as well as to the Ludwig Museum, which houses a collection of contemporary art. The collection began through a donation from a German couple, Peter and Irene Ludwig, and has been supplemented by contemporary pieces from the National Gallery’s own collection. Müpa opened in 2005; its chief designer was Gábor Zoboki. In 2006, the building won the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence, the most prestigious international award in the architectural profession, in a special category for buildings serving the general public.
See also: Patrons of the New Age
The Alrite speech recognation (speech-to-text) program helped to write the publication.
Photo: Kossuth Lajos Street seen from Rákóczi (Kerepesi) Road. The photo was made around 1894 (source: Fortepan / Budapest City Archives / Photos of György Klösz)
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