Hungarian orchestra conductor invents 'music-enhancing' face mask


When he saw a sea of face masks around Budapest, Hungarian orchestra conductor Ivan Fischer had an idea; turn this pandemic necessity into a tool of music appreciation.

Fischer’s music-enhancing face mask has two plastic cups shaped liked life-size palms attached to the mask’s strings and designed to fit around the wearer’s ears, allegedly allowing concertgoers in the age of coronavirus to enjoy improved acoustics.

“I got to this idea that it should look like a hand because when we put our hands here...” he said, cupping his palms around his ears, “... we always understand the other person easier, we hear the consonants, and the music sounds much more beautiful.”$zoom_0.585%2C$multiply_1.5109%2C$ratio_1.776846%2C$width_1059%2C$x_237%2C$y_57/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/4e663aac50258be06aaf844bf3f6d8e57fa9825f
Hungarian orchestra conductor Ivan Fischer of the Budapest Festival Orchestra has invented a "music-enhancing" face mask.YouTube / Budapest Festival Orchestra

Speaking as the orchestra rehearsed for an evening of Beethoven and Strauss, Fischer – the chief of the Budapest Festival Orchestra – said his masks help to emulate church acoustics, with warmer undertones and clearer, sharper contours.

Fischer’s invention is proving popular with concertgoers, with dozens of people wearing the mask as they took their seats at last Friday’s performance.

The acoustic mask, which costs 8000 forints ($38) if ordered through the orchestra’s website, comes in glittery and black and white versions.

Audience member Zsuzsa Hunyadi-Zoltan said the sound was “clearly better” with the special mask in place.$zoom_0.528%2C$multiply_1.5109%2C$ratio_1.776846%2C$width_1059%2C$x_150%2C$y_54/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/9a153dbd874272a31784bd080629f2ea24635106
Ivan Fischer demonstrates the acoustical theory behind his invention.YouTube / Budapest Festival Orchestra

“It focused the music more. I tried it, I took it off and put it back on and one can clearly feel the difference,” she said.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has also put a face mask on the market, albeit without plastic cups. Proceeds go to support the orchestra through lockdown. They can be ordered at