Several national minorities lived in Pécs around the 1800s and in
the19th century. Hungarian, German, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian,
Austrian, Czech, Moravian and Italian people lived here together in
peace and harmony. They created a pidgin throughout the decades spent
together. When the actors arrived, they brought the literary language
(Standard German and Hungarian) into the 'Babel of Pécs'.
There have been regular theatrical performances here since 1786. Pécs
was one of the most significant provincial centres of Hungarian
theatrical culture. Comedians performed in big dance-halls, in
aristocratic town-houses, in inns and cafés. 'The House to the Elephant'
was a popular place but the touring companies also played on 'Tettye
City dwellers wanted a theatre with a repertory company, they dreamed
of a place where they could regularly have artistic experiences and also
The General Assembly of Pécs created a Theatrical Committee to indicate
the building site of the theatre and they chose the actual 'Theatre
Square' where a military hospital used to stand.
All the other important institutions, offices, public and private
houses were built around this time, the present-day appearance of Pécs
was created around 1840.
János Aidinger then mayor was elected to be the chairman of the
Theatrical Committee, who submitted the county surtax to the vote to
cover the expenses of the theatre.
In May 1890 the Committee announced a national design competition that
was won by the world famous designers, Adolf Lang and Antal Steinhardt.
They got down to building the theatre straight away together with the
famous Felmer-Helmer partners and with 10,000 forints.
On the building you can find the statues of outstanding theatrical
people of the time (Gergely Csiky, Ede Szigligeti, Károly Kisfaludy,
Ferenc Erkel the composer) and there is a marvellous statue of the
'Genius' on the dome. The 'Genius' was designed by the sculptor György
Kiss and created people from the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory.
The theatre was opened on 5th October 1895. The 'Pécs Journal' welcomed
this fantastic event with a special issue, the people cheered in
delight. Ferenc Erkel's Bánk bán the most famous Hungarian opera was put
on stage on the occasion with great success.
The theatre had to be closed on 5th June 1986, because the building
became life-threatening. The reconstruction finished in June 1991 and
the building was totally renewed. There is a brand new revolving stage, a
four-part sinking orchestra pit, new light, sound and video system and
the theatre is air-conditioned. The National Theatre of Pécs meets the
requirements of the modern times and wants to serve the viewers every
night on a high level.
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