The Synagogue Concert in Szekszárd

After the concert in Szentes, I made up my mind to go to the one in Szekszárd, even though the idea was a little over the top. It meant setting out at around 11:30 in the morning, taking the train to Budapest, then taking two more trains southwestward to Szekszárd, arriving around four in the afternoon; then, after the concert, taking four trains back and arriving in Szolnok around midnight. I justified this with two arguments: first, if I didn’t go, I would be left wishing I had; and second, I could work on the train (which proved true). It was the right decision.

Szekszárd is the birthplace of Mihály Babits. It is quiet, elegant, and wineful, among other things. I had never been there before, and I want to go back. I found the former synagogue, currently the House of the Arts, within minutes. This meant I had a little time to walk around. I did just that, then came in, said hi to Szolongo Száni, who manages the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Community Weeks and whom I met back in 2017. What a joy to see her!

While the concert program was mostly like the one in Szentes (it differed by the encore), it had a different atmosphere. The acoustics were especially warm, whereas the hall felt more spacious. Each synagogue has its own acoustics and atmosphere, its own history and spirit; I can still remember the sound of the Albertirsa synagogue almost four years ago.

I am a bit tired—I got home at around one in the morning because of delayed trains, and then got up at 5:30 to get ready for an outing with my colleague and students. But this concert was joyous and great, and I am so glad to have gone.

After a concert like this, the world seems both smaller and larger: smaller because we came together for it, and larger because we saw and heard something new. I look forward to the next ones.

For more posts about the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s synagogue concerts, go here.

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  1. I love these posts! Thank you!

  1. 2021 Concerts and Thoughts | Take Away the Takeaway

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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