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Dear Visitor, I would like to extend a warm welcome in the name of Society ARTISJUS Hungarian Bureau for the Protection of Authors’ Rights at WOMEX 15 in Budapest. We appreciated the idea of issuing a special edition of our quarterly magazine, Dal+Szerző (Song+ Writer) and thus widening the door in front of the Hungarian folk and world music. One of the main performers of this year’s Womex is Cimbalomduó, therefore, one of the main focuses of this issue is the cimbalom and its two illustrious players, Kálmán Balogh and Miklós Lukács. The renaissance of the Hungarian folk music is owed to the táncház (folk dance house) movement of the ‘70s, which has become a unique Hungarian phenomenon. We couldn’t have imagined this issue without one of the founders of the movement, the legendary musician and music history professor, Ferenc Sebő. We added snippets of the history of Hungarian folk and world music, while introducing its prominent players. One of the main performers of the opening day, Bea Palya told us about the paths she took and we could catch the wouldfamous violin virtuoso, Félix Lajkó for an interview too. We wish you a great time! n D+SZ






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The ARTISJUS’s quarterly magazine MMXV / Special Issue for 15 ) WOMEX


Published by BPRNR Kft. (1114 Budapest, Ulászló utca 8.) on behalf of ARTISJUS Magyar Szerzői Jogvédő Iroda Egyesület



Publisher Dr. András Szinger (ARTISJUS) Editorial staff Balázs Bihari, Zsófia Deme, Péter Benjamin Tóth Contributing writers Nóra Balkányi, György Hegyi, Győző Nagy, Marcell Németh, Zsolt Prieger, Mihály Rácz Translators Eszter Csécsei, Ági Molnár, Eszter Nyitrai, Anna Nina Orosz Proof-reader Heather Sinclair


Art Director András Jeli_typoslave_info@typoslave.hu Staff photographer Szilárd Nagyillés Printing Color Pack Zrt., 4400 Nyíregyháza, Westsik Vilmos u. 4. Distribution Cser Kft., 1114 Budapest, Ulászló utca 8. E-mail: info@csermedia.hu / Tel.: +36-1 206 25 83 ISSN 2063-4188


artisjus the Hungarian collective management society for music authors, proudly presents the rich musical heritage of the country, as well as Hungarian performers and songwriters of 15 ) WOMEX. www.artisjus.hu www.dalszerzo.hu

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womex 21–25 OCTOBER 2015



In 2015, the World Music Expo (WOMEX), the largest international networking platform for the world music industry, will be held in Budapest. An October event by tradition, the 21st edition will take place from the 21st through the 25th of October 2015. The local organizing partner, Hangvető Ltd. was awarded the right to host the 2015 event by the international WOMEX team, defeating 22 competitors representing various cities. The main venues of WOMEX 15 will be the Müpa Budapest and Bálna, both of which were also bidding partners.

WOMEX 15 will feature over 60 productions from 50 countries, showcasing world music genres ranging from authentic folk music, to all the branches of crossover, and from experimental electronic music, to jazz fusion compositions. Hungary will be represented by 18 musical acts.

Hangvető Ltd., an internationally recognized participant of the Hungarian folk and world music scene, submitted the winning bid. The bidding team and the organizers of WOMEX in Budapest are, András Lelkes, Ender Liber, and Balázs Weyer. The event venues, Müpa (host to the vast majority of the musical program), and Bálna (host to the fair) are cooperating partners. In 2014 and 2015, the Hungarian government supported the preparations and the organization of WOMEX 15 by contributing 470 million HUF. The City of Budapest, and its tourism company, the Budapest Festival and Tourism Center Nonprofit Ltd., (the umbrella organization for Hungarian public service media) the MTVA, and the Hungarian Radio, have also pledged support to WOMEX 15. They will play their part in the anticipated success by advertising and broadcasting the event, as well fulfilling host duties to the EBU – EURORADIO World Music Workshop, which traditionally takes places parallel to WOMEX.


WOMEX is the greatest trade event of the world music scene. It is a global trade fair, a world music festival, a place for music documentary screenings, and the splendid spectacle of the opening concert. At WOMEX, new talents emerge, trends are born, and friendships, and partnerships are struck. WOMEX combines local intimacy with a global horizon. In 2015, Budapest hosts the notable event to the pride and benefit of the Hungarian industry, music scene and, naturally, the audience.


WOMEX was first held in Berlin in 1994, just a few years after the emergence of world music as a notion. Since then, it has traveled to Brussels, Marseille, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Essen, Newcastle, Seville, Thessaloniki, and Cardiff, among other cities. The 2015 event in Budapest was announced at last year’s Expo in Santiago de Compostela. It will be the 21st edition of WOMEX, and the very first one to be held in Central and Eastern Europe.


Winning the bid to host is a dream come true for the Hungarian folk and world music scene, long pursued by other bidding partners. It’s worthy of note that the first WOMEX already showcased a Hungarian musical act, the Ökrös band, while another local band, Muzsikás, won the WOMEX Award for World Music in 2008. In Copenhagen in 2011, WOMEX also featured Hungarian artists in the Opening Concert, which was organized on the basis of proposals, by Hangvető Ltd., who also won the 2015 bid. Ender Liber, a member of the team behind Hangvető Ltd., directed the Opening Concert in Copenhagen. The success of the 2011 Opening Concert paved the way for hosting this year’s event. In 2012, violinist Félix Lajkó’s performance was a huge hit from the Festival Showcase. In recent years, The 7 Samurai, the jury putting on the program of the WOMEX edition, also featured esteemed Hungarian world music professionals such as Fruzsina Szép, (program director of Sziget Festival) and Balázs Weyer (member of the team behind Budapest’s winning bid, see interview) in the jury of Womex 14 in Santiago de Compostela. The first Central and Eastern European WOMEX is a huge opportunity for the folk and world music acts of both Hungary and the region to enter the international scene. At the same time, the event in Budapest will showcase musical acts from all around the world that the local audience might otherwise never have the chance to see live.


Beloved in Senegal, adored by world music fans and admired by musicians around the world, there is no doubt that Cheikh Lô is one of the giants of West African music. Lô’s five international releases present a music that is rooted in Senegalese mbalax but with important and exciting sonic detours through Latin America, the Caribbean, the USA, Nigeria, DR Congo… his influences reach across the world. Lô is a tireless musical innovator, pushing boundaries in both his own music and as a collaborator with many and varied artists. His stature and music have also brought much greater exposure and international recognition to the Baye Fall – the Sufi order to which he proudly belongs. It is for these reasons that we are delighted

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faq to be able to present Cheikh Lô with the WOMEX 15 Artist Award. He will also be on-hand in Budapest to close the event with a bang.

artist award


cheikh loˇ from senegal

The work and efforts of Hermes Records founder Ramin Sadighi (Iran) within the Iranian music scene have ushered in numerous important milestones, helping to create one of the first legal ways for Iranians to purchase music from the West and, through Hermes, promoting Iranian music on a global scale. The label’s releases have been recognised with many awards including a Grammy nomination for ‘Best World Music Album’ in 2006 for the collaboration between Djivan Gasparyan and Hossein Alizadeh, Endless Vision. In recognition of the growing and empowering nature of the international music scene in Iran, the WOMEX 15 Professional Award is presented to Ramin Sadighi. Mr. Sadighi, along with his laudator Laudan Nooshin (UK), will also take part in a conference session on Saturday, 24 October at 15:00 to discuss his achievements and the music scene in Iran in more depth.

professional award ramin sadighi from iran


label award glitterbeat

They’ve done it again! Glitterbeat, who last year received the WOMEX 14 Label Award, will join us again in Budapest to receive the award for the second time! World Music Charts Europe has tracked the monthly charts of 45 radio broadcasters from 25 countries, and Glitterbeat is the label that has the most popular releases in this network this year – their success coming off the back of albums by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Samba Touré and Fofoulah.



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Exotic and familiar at the same time Journalist, editor, radio editor, author of several books, ex-columnist of Magyar Narancs, a key member of the legendary Tilos Rádió. He has been working tirelessly on introducing Hungarian folk music abroad and making a name for it:“The Hungarians – and the whole region with it – have been overwhelmed by the past ten years of Balkan music offensive. I know a great many people, who are crazy about Hungarian folk music. That’s the lucky charm of the Hungarian world music: numerous opinion leaders in the profession, who not only understand, but love Hungarian folk music.” Mr. Weyer as a producer at Hangvető, he is one of the main organisers of WOMEX, which takes place in Budapest in 2015.

Dal+Szerző: The WOMEX yearbooks all start with the phrase, “You who enter never ask what world music is.” As a main organizer, how would you define the festival? Balázs Weyer: World music is more like a journey. When traveling somewhere, we never get to know it as if we were living there. It is a fresh experience, more exciting, or inspiring, and yet it can be rather frightening for some to leave their familiar surroundings. There are those who are satisfied with the easily accessible surface, like the main tourist attractions, where the world is as presented on leaflets. Then there are those who go beyond this facade and want to explore, go off the beaten track. Be as it may, the experience comes from encountering something different. It is music that might be the shortest route to another culture, even if we don’t understand the lyrics and the genre is alien to us. World music is what a foreigner can easily take in from a certain culture’s traditions, as it communicates traditions through a universal language: music. Thus, it is exotic and familiar at the same time. (Of course we know about Scottish salsa or German calypso bands, but that is as close to a journey as going to an Indian restaurant in Budapest, instead of visiting Mumbai.) This is why it is so hard to define world music. You cannot find any genre without traditions, precedents. There is a simplistic description, though not without real foundation, that today’s pop music, which emerged from rock and roll, is rooted in the encounter of the instrumental spectrum of African rhythms, classical European harmonies and Turkish janissary music groups. Though this is historically deducible, it will not turn mainstream pop into world music. For that, the music must carry such contents that are deeply rooted in the particular place and society where it comes from.

D+SZ: What will make this WOMEX in Budapest different from the previous festivals? Is it possible at all to change the process of the selection, organization, or to add different characteristics to the showcase in 2015 after the past year’s routines? BW: Yes, it is. Being a traveling event is one of the key characteristics of WOMEX. Moving from town to town is part of the experience. I believe it is perfectly natural for a world music event. Each year, the guests give something and get something back. While the program has a fixed structure, there is always a chance to give the performance a local twist. Both the regional and the international scene have been waiting for such an occasion to come, so we tried to squeeze in as much as possible into the first Eastern European WOMEX. We took it as our responsibility to share this opportunity with the region. The stage reserved especially for Eastern-  5

 European bands is called Club Duna, which will welcome bands from Latvia to Bosnia. The opening event will be a gypsy folk music showcase from the Carpathian Basin. Everyone is welcome to join the festivities at the folk dance house (táncház), as well as the additional program on Day 0. In all other aspects, we strictly stuck to WOMEX’s well-established structure. D+SZ: This is the first WOMEX in the region. Hungary/Budapest has a unique folk táncház culture that is rarely seen in other countries. Could it be the reason for picking Budapest? BW: I guess it was one of the determining factors. The táncház movement has been a source of inspiration, a significant experience for several influential people in the world music society. Most of them had already visited Budapest and Transylvania in the seventies. The táncház is a spectacular way of treasuring traditions. It requires a kind of social participation, which still can be found in certain corners of the world, and is a curiosity in Europe. Next to the táncház movement, reasons in Budapest’s favor are such icons of world music as the Muzsikás, Márta Sebestyén, and of course Bartók, who has been a cornerstone of the genre. The Hungarian Renaissance also has to be mentioned here. The success is due to the Hungarian opening of WOMEX 2011 in Copenhagen, and the outstanding showcase performances of Söndörgő, and Félix Lajkó, plus the tendency of Hungarian al6

bums to re-appear on the World Music Charts after a long hiatus. It is important to note that Hungary’s reputation of world music is different from our historical fame in football, which is preserved by the memory of the Golden Team. In music, progressiveness is constant, and the transfer of knowledge is continuous. Hence, the future we are building is based on massive foundations. D+SZ: World music is impregnated with politics; it is very sensitive to social matters. Is there relevant world music without politics? BW: Of course there is. More songs about love, the sun, the moon, the sea, dreams, dance, birth and death are written, and that’s completely natural. True, the number of politically motivated songs and performers is high. Being socially committed, and having a political standpoint, is a wonderful tradition in world music. It has many reasons. One is the democratic nature of the genre. It is rooted in folk music, which is traditionally based on participation. Folk music’s whole purpose was to be accessible; it was easy to join in to the music they played on cheap instruments. Another reason is that world music is the antithesis of today’s pop music, which is assembled from clichés. I could also mention colonization and migration, which played a key role in the spread of music, and both are fundamental political experiences for the genre. It is easy to see how the migrant

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situation is one of the most sensitive issues in this community. We only need to take a look at this year’s WOMEX performer, Cheikh Lo, who received the Artist Award, and sang about Western-Africans migrating to Europe 20 years ago. Aziza Braham, from Western Sahara, is also a refugee. The civil wars in Mali have had effects on many musicians in the past few years. When not conveying political messages through songs, world music’s heart still beats to the rhythm of individual and social equality, and the respect of traditions and multiculturalism. D+SZ: What positive changes have the domestic world music scene gone through in the recent years? BW: I wouldn’t say it in present tense. As I see it, we are at the beginning of this positive change. Hungary has always had exceptional musicians, but the lack of a conscious mindset makes it harder to introduce them to the world. Recently, however, they have become more and more aware of the fact that it is not enough anymore to be a good musician, especially if you have international ambitions. You must understand, and be able to explain who you are, where you come from, where you are headed, and the reasons you play music. You have to be accessible and communicative in English, nurture relationships, and be attentive to details. World music might be the most intimate segment of the music industry, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t need management, media consciousness, and a business mindset above a certain level. These changes are in motion, and that is why more and more Hungarian bands have successful performances at WOMEX and rank on the World Music Charts. The younger generation comes over these obstacles with ease, but most of the musicians do not have sufficient funds to acquire this knowledge and maintain management. Institutions like the Fonó, the Zeneipari Iroda, or Hangvető are working on teaching the members of the domestic industry how to deal with these new challenges. Still, it is far from enough. We would need an export bureau, similar to many other countries. We would need education, an institutional system, events, and as we were organizing WOMEX in Budapest, we wanted to give a push to the Hungarian scene, too. I hope this will lead to the next level, though this WOMEX is not the end, only a very significant station on the road we took 4-5 years ago. D+SZ: You are not a bureaucratic type, more of a music fanatic. Who is your most awaited performer? Or more importantly, whom should the audience pay attention to this year? BW: Well, the experience I gathered after years spent in a corporate environment is of great use now, and I am not alone with this. My colleague András Lelkes has experiences in both playing the double bass, and working in the consulting industry. So far there haven’t been any difficulties that we could not face, and we are terribly grateful for being able to call music our job. No doubt, music is what we are here for. Personally, what I am doing today is exactly the same as what I thought to be only a wild dream four years ago. The fact that I am here amazes me almost every day. Just like when I was a visitor, the WOMEX for me is still about an inspiring, loud spectacle, encounters, and surprises, rather than particular concerts. I wish to see everyone, those who I have already seen, as well as those who I’ll see for the first time. I’ll see familiar performers such as Aziza Brahim from Western Sahara, the Iberi choir from Georgia, and the Polish female trio Sutari. Among the performers that I will see for the first time are the Haitian Chouk Bwa Libété, Vadou Game from Togo, the Nigerian Mamar Kassey, Pat Thomas from Ghana, and the Brazilian Emilia. Maybe I will simply let myself be taken by surprise, and that’s what I suggest to everyone. n

balázs weyer Journalist, editor, radio editor, author of several books, ex-columnist of the satiric liberal magazine, Magyar Narancs, a key member of the legendary Tilos Rádió and the commercial channel, RTL Klub, the founder of the popular Hungarian news portal, Origo, the chairman of Chief Editors’ Forum. Mr. Weyer obtained his master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield. As a producer at Hangvető, he is one of the main organisers of WOMEX, which takes place in Budapest in 2015. In the same capacity, he is music editor at Bartók Rádió, former music supervisor of an HBO series, moreover, the leader of a crowd-founded enquiring website, called Direkt36. In the ’90s he played in several bands, and today, Mr. Weyer is a member of both the World Music Charts Europe and the Quality Journalism Foundation’s jury.

Interviewed by: Zsolt Prieger PHOTO: szilárd nagyillés (dal+szerző)




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Dance, too, belongs to everyone Nearly eighty years ago, Zoltán Kodály, one of the most influential men of music education and ethnomusicology wrote that the time had come for the educated classes to learn the music of the masses. This spirit continues to be a defining attribute of the táncház (Hungarian folk dance house) movement, which has played a crucial role both in pop and folk music. When it comes to typical Hungarian symbols, the image of the dancing maid, who is grabbing her young lad in boots by the shoulder, is sure to pop up. Folk music and folk dance are core elements of Hungary’s image, along with gulyás, the csikós (rancher), Hungarian grey cattle, Budapest’s panorama, paprika, and the Rubik’s Cube. However, beyond the surface of the souvenir aspect, the táncház movement embodies a 43-year-long history, a thriving community, and a successful phenomenon of pop culture.

field as their recreational interest, or as dancers, choreographers, musicians, ethnomusicologists, and ethnochoreologists.

a peacock takes its perch The idea of the movement began to take shape in Budapest in the early seventies. People noticed that free movement, or the skipping of choreography, works better than practiced, schematic moves. An important forerunner of the táncház was the so-called Gyöngyösbokréta Movement that ran between the two World Wars, and was aimed at the revival and stage production of folk traditions. Its legacy lived on in the fifties through the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, and amateur ensembles, while the TV contest, Röpülj, páva! (Fly, peacock!) aided the movement’s later flourish.

In 2011, the Hungarian táncház method was included in UNESCO’s representative list of Intangible Heritage of Urgent Safeguarding, which serves as a register of the best practices for preservation. The best practice aspect is especially important. While the movement remains the focus of professional research and the cherishing of traditions, anyone can join it at any given moment. The first táncház was eventually held in 1972. By then, the mateThe táncház movement has become an international example of rials of folk music had been exhaustively compiled and processed the co-operation between amateurs and professionals. in line with Kodály’s concept. Nevertheless, this event was organized for professionals only. It was initiated by the Bihari Folk Besides the folk bands and folk dance ensembles of Hungarian Dance Ensemble, especially for the four biggest dance ensemcolonies, and those who live all across the world in places like bles of Budapest. When the era’s well-known folk instrument Canada, Japan, Australia, or the USA, the táncház movement also musicians, Ferenc Sebő (a professor at the Folk Music Departrefers to an institutional system. Folk music schools that have ment of the Liszt Academy of Music, who later established the opened since the change of regime, such as the Hungarian Dance House of Traditions), and Béla Halmos (folk musician and ethnoAcademy, have a Folk Dance Department. Elementary and high musicologist, who died in 2013) joined the táncház, not only did school’s schedules include folk dance classes, and generations it become a whole, but it also surpassed the initial professional can learn the steps from each other in camps that explore the objective, and total strangers came to attend the event. Sebő roots of folk dance and music. Today, the movement has an on- Halmos and Sándor Tímár, the leader of the Bartók Ensemble of line presence with forums, and it also runs its own press and the time, supported the open-door policy, and their trio began to events. Hundreds of thousands of people are engaged with the organize the classes and the movement itself.  PHOTO ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE: TÁNCHÁZ IN GYIMES IN THE 70’S (PHOTO: ENDRŐDI PÉTER)



 Ferenc Novák (choreographer, director, and ethnographer), and György Martin (ethnochoreologist and ethnographer), joined the first táncház. The well-known venues of the táncház, such as the Budapest Cultural House, the R-klub at the Budapest University of Technology, and the Kassák klub (which functioned as the club of the Sebő band), were soon established. Later, clubs all across the country followed, and groups who showed and preserved the music and dances of other cultures formed. Béla Halmos said the established, modern táncház, which grew from active communities, was primarily a way of entertainment, so it did not appear in its original function. However, it is not instinctively passed on, as its form is the result of conscious selection and research. Right from the beginning, Halmos, a violinist, also highlighted that in addition to Hungarian folk traditions, the táncház also focused on other nation’s folklore. A few years ago, Novák mentioned that the model of the táncház was able to reach its goal in four decades, as the traditions have been processed, and nearly all the dances of the Carpathian Basin have been included in the “dance card” of the táncház.

let the music belong to everyone The other key figure of the movement, Ferenc Sebő, said three years ago when Fidelio interviewed him on his 65th birthday about his life’s work, that the táncház movement is not an artistic trend, but a phenomenon of pop culture. “(…) It fell into place and thus gained its significance.” According to Sebő, the movement symbolizes Kodály’s aforementioned concept by turning music again towards the masses instead of the elite. (See our interview with Ferenc Sebő.)


The public music education in Hungary continues to be based on the thoughts and educational concept of Zoltán Kodály, composer, musicologist, ethnomusicologist, and music pedagogue, who was born in 1882. The simple folk music of the country was always crucial for Kodály. He turned towards music pedagogy after working as a musician and ethnographer prior to 1925. Kodály believed that a good musician’s skills essentially depend on four parallel developing fields: sophisticated hearing, sense, heart, and hands. In addition, they can also benefit from a versatile practice (such as chamber music and chamber choir). Childcentered education was also Kodály’s fundamental principle. (For more on this, see our article about the Kodály Method.) “We’re convinced that humanity would be happier if they learnt to play music, and those who contribute to its development, had not lived in vain. And: the renewal must start from the bottom. Even the most beautiful curriculum, the wisest guidelines are worth nothing if there’s no one who would put them to practice with heart and conviction. The soul cannot be shaped in an administrative way. It’s much easier to attend to a soul that has been shaped by beauty and knowledge. However, this requires the prior change of public opinion.” (Zoltán Kodály) n Nóra Balkányi we would like to say A huge thank to István berán and the folkmagazin for the fantastic photos.






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Why are you feeding the chicken from a Renaissance plate? “It was the birth of an urban art and the genesis of a new contemporary genre, rooted in Hungary”, recalls the architect-turned-ethnomusicologist, Ferenc Sebő. He believes that the biggest achievement of the Hungarian táncház (Hungarian folk dance house) movement was that folk dance is no longer uncool, but he refuses the idea of linking his work to the preservation of traditions. Is authentic folk music still around? How many steps are necessary for courting? Which forgotten era did Béla Bartók discover in the Hungarian folklore, and why is it important to sing in our native language? We interviewed the lead member of the Sebő band, Professor Ferenc Sebő.

D+SZ: You became interested in folk music when you were studying to be an architect. Why was the Hungarian pop music scene of the sixties so strongly tied to the Budapest University of Technology? Ferenc Sebő: Actually, I believe that it’s more linked to the primary schools that specialized in music. This educational method was initiated by Zoltán Kodály. Most members of Hungarian pop bands attended these kinds of schools. I went to a music school in Fehérvár, where I learnt to play the cello and the piano, and Béla Halmos (the other key member of the Sebő band) learnt to play the violin. We studied harmonics, solfeggio, sheet music, and instrumentation, so it wasn’t as if we had just stepped out from the wilderness with a guitar in our hands. This school system worked well, and though it may not have been Kodály’s primary expectation, we ended up having a lot of great pop musicians. Like the others, we also liked Illés and Omega a lot, who figured out well before us what we later started doing.

D+SZ: What do you think will be the future implications of the current cutback of this school system? FS: Music is a fundamental communication means, and folk music is the best way to explain its language. We can express emotions through music, dance and movement that we cannot or aren’t supposed to in speaking. Originally, music served as the cement of getting to know each other and to form relationships. Zsiga Karsai had a fantastic memory, and was our source on folk dancing and singing. He provided nearly eight hundred songs and 240 figures. I once asked him, “How they could be made to remember so much?” His answer was, “My dear Feri, otherwise, how on Earth would we have been able to get close to the girls?” This cannot be replaced by institutions. If someone could dance well, he caught everyone’s attention, and this impressed the girls. Old people used to tell me that in the táncház, it was obvious pretty early on who would be the judge, who had good skills for organizing, and who could represent the others. Is there any 


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 such field or environment for young people nowadays? Besides, the way grown-ups amuse themselves is greatly influenced by their childhood experiences. People develop their tastes under the influence of their education and family, and later on we are exposed to impressions from so many directions, that it’s impossible to control them. The only way to ascertain some kind of control is in the hands of education. D+SZ: Was it your first thought when you started organizing the first táncház? FS: I believe in the old Greek saying, “deal with what is in your power to do.” We have a tendency to change the world. However, we would have nothing left of it, if we reached the end of our work. When the táncház was launched, I was working as an architect at the Center for Library Science and Methodology. Pista Sallai, who was my boss at the time, sent for me every week, and I always expected to be told off because I was quite often absent, as I had to organize the táncház. But he only wanted to know how our things were progressing. I told him that it was a mess. With great difficulty, we managed to get together a club, but we didn’t know how to proceed. His answer was to make another club, too. And if that got going, we should launch a third one as well, then, somehow it will “grow together.” I was rather skeptical. How could anyone possibly imagine that four young men will change the world? But, eventually, his idea worked. It turned out that more and more people were showing interest in the táncház, so we did have to expand. We organized clubs in the FMH, in the Kassák Klub, and in the E-klub for the elite of the University of Technology. Finally, as an avalanche, the movement supported itself, and rolled out on its own.

for the free use of hands, therefore they are unable to change register. The violinists of Szék usually play in the second register, and they draw the instrument, i.e. the strings, onto the bow. The work of the bow is just as tight as in any work of Bach, which provides the rhythm of the dances. It’s impossible to play these works with the later technique, but this was the point. If we had been able to play them, it wouldn’t have crossed our minds to learn this historical technique.

D+SZ: You’ve said earlier that Hungarian folk music is a sample collection of old music. What did you mean by this? FS: I’m currently compiling a radio program about the so called Petőfi songs [Sándor Petőfi was a renowned 19th century Hungarian poet], as several of his poems became part of the folklore of the Transylvanian Plain. According to the well-known Hungarian novelist, Mór Jókai, Petőfi could not sing, not even the Marseillaise, so he did not write poems to the melody, but vica versa. Composers of melodies put his poems to music. Peasants, however, were not receptive to these melodies as this musical style was foreign to them, and so they changed them. One of my sources, János Csorba, once started singing a ballad written by János Arany [another renowned 19th century Hungarian poet] for a slow and old-fashioned melody of Szék. He explained to me that his mother learnt it in school, and by the time she got home, she “put it on this melody.” What they regarded as useless – in this case, the melody – they immediately threw away and replaced with something familiar. I think it’s fantastic. The descending melodic scales that are so typical in the Hungarian folklore have also wonderfully incorporated the melodies and rhythm of the 16th century ugrós [a classic Hungarian folk dance], and kanásztánc [swineherds’ dance, another classic D+SZ: Why was it no other than the folk music of Szék [a Hungarian folk dance]. village in Transylvania with distinct and long-preserved folk music and dance traditions] that you chose to discover? D+SZ: Why do you think the revival of folk music and folk FS: The music of Szék caused a revelation, as it was string mu- dance happened in Hungary in the late sixties? sic. Instead of the cheesy, drippy Biedermeier atmosphere of the FS: The folk music movement had popped up again and again 19th century, it brought us to the era before Romanticism. Béla for a long time, but it first appeared without any sort of ideologiBartók had a similar experience. He discovered old music in folk cal purpose in the sixties, and in this form it began to appeal to songs, such as singing with straight tone, and the melismatic people. decorations, which all recalled the musical style of the bygone Baroque Era. The music of Szék is hard, accompanied by major D+SZ: How did the idea come to link folk dance to instruaccords, and sounds like a harmonium. It’s as if one instrument mental folk music? was played, and this is what I liked about it. When we were FS: Martin kept telling choreographers for twenty years that taught by György Martin, who researched folk dance, he encour- these dances are great, and they just need to be learnt and pracaged us to travel to Transylvania and listen to live music, too. We ticed properly. That’s why it always failed. Everyone knew some had to see everything with our own eyes right from the proper steps but they couldn’t vary the figures. The Bihari János Folk way to hold the violin, as Béla just about forgot all he learnt in Dance Ensemble decided that it would be good to have a private school about playing the violin when we arrived there. He was dance club, where they would dance this dance freely instead taught the post-Paganini Era’s technique, which is still taught of staged choreography, and they called us, as word got around today. In Transylvania, that 18th century technique, which was that we could play this kind of music. In the first táncház, we recorded by Leopold Mozart, was still employed. The violinists of could play the full “dance card” of Szék, but they didn’t know Szék do not press their chins to the violin. Instead, they prop it the matching steps. Tinka (György Martin) grumbled that there against their chest and grab it. This kind of grip does not allow were two serious problems with what we were doing. The door 14

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was closed, and we didn’t know the dance. He suggested that we either learn to do it properly, or stop it as otherwise we’re not going to enjoy it. The music and dance of Szék is exactly like jazz; it’s based on improvisation. However, we were not aware of it, as we only received quotes played in a certain kind of form. We were only able to improvise once we properly learnt the basics and the rules of the musical language. D+SZ: How did the táncház turn into a movement? FS: The crack in the group resulted from the fact that the first organizers wanted neither to learn, nor to teach. We, the two architects, thought that we didn’t have the time to entertain the other four ensembles with our music while they were getting drunk. Instead, we were much more interested in letting people in from the street, as we regarded it as the future of the táncház. Therefore, those remained in the group who took it seriously. We allied with choreographer and dance teacher Sándor Timár, who taught his men very well how to dance the folk dances of Szék, before he would create any kind of choreography with it. It was always the other way around before that. The choreography was done first with a few motives of Szék, and then everything got completely ruined with the space arrangement. I managed to get the round hall of FMH, and initially the same chaos unfolded as with the rock concerts. People crawled in through the loo doors, the police turned up, but then it slowly started to work out nicely. In the meantime, in 1973, we went to Japan for six months, but by then our students, Misi Sipos (lead musician of the Muzsikás Folk Ensemble) and his fellow musicians, András Jánosi, and Márta Virágvölgyi were fully trained. So our method of opening the door to everyone and teaching him was working, and even today it’s still the heart of the whole thing.

FS: They immediately launched an attack, first from a professional side. Then the dirtier, more despicable things came, too. But Iván Vitányi, who was the Director of the Institute of People’s Education at the time, was able to protect us. The most important thing he did was to include our course in the program of the Institute of People’s Education, which sort of made it “untouchable,” and for this I’m really grateful to him. But around 1975, there was a really crude accusation claiming that people were having sex under the piano at our táncház, and it made me really angry. Vitányi arranged for György Aczél, Minister of Culture, to visit us, and he could personally see on site that no one was having sex there. I actually showed him the spot, and told him, “Comrade Aczél, look at this pianino, there isn’t even enough space under it.” While I was talking to Aczél, Iván was looking at us from the corner, frozen in sweat. Aczél had prejudices, but when I noticed that he was smiling under his mustache, I knew that I had luck. From then on, it wasn’t such a triumph any more to report us to the police. D+SZ: In 2011, the Hungarian táncház method was included in the UNESCO’s list of best practices to preserve the intellectual cultural heritage. FS: The essence of the method is that it teaches the dance as a ballroom dance, not as choreography. The táncház has been organized even in Japan. Timár still travels there to teach partner dances. The genre of the partner dance was unknown in Asia, and for those who live there it’s a huge experience to be finally able to touch a member of the other sex while they’re dancing. D+SZ: You’ve previously said that we may approach the end of a trend. Do you believe that authentic Hungarian folk music does not exist anymore? FS: It does, but only in a few places. The rural lifestyle of peasants has ceased to exist, and young people moved away from villages. Those who are able to transfer something are now more than eighty years old. It’s a serious generational problem that ballads, tales, songs and dances are all disappearing at the same time. Young people learnt many of them, but this isn’t the continuation of an old culture any longer. This is a new era, a revival.

D+SZ: How were you welcomed in the Transylvanian villages? FS: I went there in 1971 for the first time, and my guide was Zoltán Kallós. As a Transylvanian, he was familiar with everything there, and knew what was allowed to be done and what wasn’t. D+SZ: How did the cultural policy of the time react to the The situation did get hysterical in the later era of Ceausescu, when movement? the regulation that prohibited tourists to sleep in someone’s  15

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house came into effect. The primary aim was to cut ties and relationships, but careless people from Budapest didn’t give a damn about it, and they got the locals into huge trouble. They were then summoned by the police, and had to take a duck or goose, as it is customary in the East. As a result, many of those who experienced it could not be persuaded when we went there. The old people, who we wanted to visit the most, were happy that someone dropped by to see them. By the way, Kallós always created a stir wherever he went. He said to a farmer’s wife, “Why are you feeding the chicken from a Renaissance plate? Give it to me, you’ll get another one in exchange.” He has a huge collection, and even established a museum in Válaszút, as he not only collected music, but textiles and ceramics as well. Zoli has amazing skills. He kept track of what people we went to visit needed, which house was in need of medicines, or a scarf, and he always exchanged stuff.

ferenc sebő Ferenc Sebő was born on February 10, 1947, in Szekszárd. He is an architect, folk music researcher, singer, guitarist, hurdy-gurdy player and song writer. A founding member and key figure of the Hungarian táncház movement. Director and founder of the Sebő Ensemble, which plays Eastern European folk music and musical arrangements for poetry. A researcher for the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a folk music program director at Hungarian Television. Artistic Director of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble since 1996. Author, editor, publisher of numerous publications on folk music and folk music collections and partly verses from classical and contemporary Hungarian literature set to music..

D+SZ: What do you think of the phenomenon that while in the sixties most of the bands switched to singing in Hungarian, nowadays the trend has changed, and more and more bands are now singing in English? FS: Folk music is in fact historic popular music, which in the course of its thousandyear-long history, has always had the same purpose: that its message must be understood. I noticed that peasant singers were only interested in the lyrics, and often didn’t pay attention to what melody they are singing it with, in a given moment. Once I asked a peasant woman to sing me an interesting tetratone melody (composed of four tones), which had not been recorded in my collection. However, she began to sing the same lyrics to another melody. Dissatisfied, I told her that it was a different song. But Aunt Rózsi simply answered that it didn’t matter. It was exactly the same situation in the 16th century, in the time of Bálint Balassi [famous Hungarian lyric poet who lived in the 16th century]. The essence of the ad notam style is the lyrics, the higher-level speech, and they only sing it with a melody to give emphasis. And what’s going on now? Those songs become hits, which we don’t understand. And it’s not only a question of language. I often hear from musicians nowadays during the sound mixing in the studio to “move the vocals a little bit to the background.” Why? So that people wouldn’t even be able to understand it? I guess this trend will fade, too. (He laughs) D+SZ: Currently, what are the most important things to be done, in your opinion? FS: Folk music doesn’t go out of fashion. With my colleagues, I regard it as my biggest success that it’s not uncool anymore to do it. In the past, it was actually considered to be a lame thing. We were not driven by the desire to preserve traditions, but by our contemporary interests. Many people think that we continued the rural traditions of villages, even though it’s an urban form of art. A new contemporary genre was born, a certain kind of civic chamber music, which just happens to be rooted in Hungary, and not overseas. We have outstanding achievements in folk music, and we also managed to establish the institutional system for it, which was necessary to have more musicians. Now, it would be important to maintain and safely preserve this framework, and to give people the chance and the opportunity to engage with it, instead of remembering the táncház in the form of a house party. n Interviewed by Marcell Németh photo: szilárd nagyillés (dal+szerző)

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the kodály method No matter if we call it a method or a hungarikum (something that’s essentially Hungarian), the Kodály Method’s most lovable characteristic is that amazing musical changes and improvements can be achieved, even with the most tone-deaf of children. The Kodály Method (named after Zoltán Kodály, a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and pedagogue who lived between 1882 and 1967) is a pedagogical method and child-developmental approach to music that teaches children from the age of kindergarten to preserve and develop musical skills.

In a nutshell, the Kodály Method teaches the relations and distances between notes using a system of solfège syllables. The sonority may change, but the interval (the distance between two notes) always remains the same. It can move anywhere within the system of the five-line music notation by clef changes.

memory, because the school will teach them something better. But we tell people that their knowledge has great value, it’s the ancestors’ tradition, and the true expression of their own souls. We tell them to honour it… because they can only achieve more in life, if they build on it.”

The first success of the Kodály Method arose from the brilliant practice of picking these intervals from well-known folk music and songs. It’s really easy to find motives in the Hungarian pentatonic scale that are easy to sing, and represent different intervals. The familiar melodies help with reading sheet music and singing from the page. According to Zoltán Kodály, the solfa expressions of intervals could be permanently planted in memory with regular repetition.

Kodály granted new meaning and a modern role to the folk song by including it in the school curriculum. Those choruses helped this reinterpretation and music works that were based on the Hungarian folk song, which, dressed in Kodály’s clothes, could stand its ground on any stage, in almost any kind of music environment. Isn’t it revolutionary? The culture and art, the fine aesthetics of the illiterate, yet sharp-witted Hungarian peasant who, until then, had been considered to be uneducated in the classical sense, and who had never crossed the border of their villages – became part of the world’s intellectual heritage. The beauty of these simple songs made up of a few notes and syllables, yet perfectly recordable and precise, which could provide a firm foundation to the country’s artistic ideas, perplexed the educated, cultivated minds. This may have been the reason why Kodály established the first music primary school that was based on his method in the country, namely in Kecskemét in the mid-20th cen-

Anikó Fehér, musicologist, says that Zoltán Kodály’s approach has a special feature. “It’s not only music that music teaches us.” Fehér also says, “So far, the school said to the people that they knew nothing. That they should forget it and let it slip from 18

tury. He regarded the development of the countryside to be more important than the glow of so many institutions in Budapest that conveyed the culture of the elite.

It’s a special treat to read Kodály’s thoughts about “world music,” which he expressed half a century ago. “We deepen our knowledge of the world of music, and through other music languages we can better understand our own as well. The world opens up more and more, and the art that limits itself to one nation won’t make any sense too much longer. We are now closer to world music than to Goethe’s concept of world literature.”

It’s not a uniquely Central Eastern European experience to reap the benefits of the Kodály Method. A study carried out by researchers at the University of San Francisco revealed there is a possibility for a 50% performance increase in mathematics test scores among third graders, if children are taught math based on the Kodály Method using signs, rhythms, and notes similar to solmization. Interestingly, although the method itself originates from Kodály, it was Jenő Ádám, composer and music pedagogue, who described the concept. Kodály often encouraged Ádám to do it, and in 1942 he literally sent him to his own cottage in Galyatető to elaborate the method. The so-called

Szó-mi füzetek, and the Systematic Singing Teaching Based on the Tonic Sol-fa were written at that time. The singing textbooks for schools followed these. Except for the methodological book, all the publications feature Kodály’s name as co-author. However, their sole author was Ádám (who also designed the illustrations and the graphs). Kodály did not object, and these books continue to be remembered as the joint works of Kodály and Ádám. Ignored, brushed aside, sadly and disgracefully forgotten, Jenő Ádám died in 1982. His oeuvre, which admittedly may not have been created without Kodály, taught a whole nation how to live with music.

It’s also interesting to see that the Kodály Method is more important outside Hungary, than in the country where it was conceived. It may be detrimental to the method that mainly the external attributes tend to be highlighted. For example,

zoltán kodály solmization, which does help in learning to read sheet music, is only one tool that is linked to Kodály’s name. However, Kodály himself had seen it used by British workmen’s choirs with great success, and this experience inspired him to incorporate it into his educational concept. Several studies have confirmed worldwide how the method benefits learning skills, creativity, and certain behavior problems if children regularly play music and sing together with others, which are concepts that form the basis of the method. Even today, the educational method of Kodály attracts a lot of followers in the USA or Japan, and hundreds of Hungarian music teachers have been invited to Finland, for instance, to help establish the Kodály Method there. n -AJMPHOTO: Gink Károly (MTI)



The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest is the only music academy in the world that was founded by Franz Liszt. The piano virtuoso, composer, conductor, teacher, author and philanthropist established the institution in 1875.


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“Génie oblige!” was his credo: the duty of an artist is to use his gifts for the benefit of humanity and to nurture genuine talent. Teaching at the Liszt Academy is rooted in this principle, reflecting the vision of its open and versatile internationally recognised founder, who was years ahead of his time. A straight line can be traced through four generations from Liszt to the Academy’s piano professors of today. It is perhaps not too much of an overstatement to say that no other music school has had such an immense impact on the development of the world’s musical scene as the Liszt Academy. Liszt, Hubay, Popper, Dohnányi, Bartók, Weiner, Kodály are among the great professors who figure in the Academy’s history. The impressive list of our Honorary Faculty Members bridges genres, continents and ages. Our prestigious alumni were - or still are – beacons in every musical field, whose contributions to the world’s cultural heritage are immeasurable. The Academy has always taken pride in meeting the standards set by its founders and revered professors. This means students encounter a special and demanding Hungarian style of teaching. Education here focuses on understanding the meaning of music and the art of ensemble playing. Those who enter the Liszt Academy know that attendance involves a serious commitment to a perfectionist approach to music. Studying here means hard and disciplined work under the guidance of professors who are renowned artists, visiting professors at other illustrious universities, jury members of international competitions, for whom teaching is a passion. The Liszt Academy is proud to have outstanding, highly experienced, and even young professors. Teaching is conducted on a one-to-one basis and in small groups and workshops. The Liszt Academy does not strive to train students in large numbers but respects the individual needs of each talented student. All classical instruments, singing/opera, jazz and folk music, orchestral/choral conducting, music pedagogy, composition are offered as majors. Musical pedagogy tuition is based on the Kodály concept; the Liszt Academy, with its Kodály Institute, is the place where the pedagogical legacy of Kodály is most authentically maintained. Student who study chamber music, a tradition of unique richness maintained by the Academy, will be given lots of performance opportunities. The Academy’s choir and symphony orchestra maintain rigorous standards, and are conducted by widely renowned guest conductors such as Zoltán Kocsis, Helmut Rilling, Peter Schreier.

non-instrumental majors is offered in English, provided there are a minimum of five international students admitted to a given major in a year. Full-time tuition is provided for BA (6 semesters) and MA (4 semesters) degrees. For international students, musical teachertrainees and choral conductors, the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy in Kecskemét offers comprehensive non-degree, BA and MA degree courses in Kodály Music Pedagogy along with the biennial summer seminars. The Exceptionally Talented Young Students’ Class is open to especially gifted students of piano, violin and cello aged from 8 to 18. Those who wish to proceed with their training after graduation may apply to the Academy’s DLA, PhD programmes. Part-time tuition is also available, covering 1 or 2 lessons in the instrumental majors plus 1 optional chamber music lesson per week. Although this course does not lead to a diploma, the student is granted a certificate. Preparation courses are also available, targeted for would-be full-time students to provide potential applicants with the necessary instrumental and theoretical background prior to the highly demanding entrance exam.

folk music department

Reasons for teaching how to play folk instruments are educating students to be skilled and adept performers of folk music; introducing to them the folk music repertoire, which has been preserved through oral tradition by the neighbouring ethnic groups in Hungarian speaking areas and the Carpathian Basin; and for them to gain an assertive theoretical and practical knowledge of Lessons in the main instrumental/singing subjects are available how to play authentically the instruments. n in English and/or German, based upon prior agreement with the teacher. Group lessons are held in English. Full-time tuition in -AJM-, photo: zeneakadémia/Judit Marjai 21



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Experimentation is a must The cimbalom is a powerful, forceful string instrument also known as a hammered dulcimer. The sound of one easily captures the listener, and when two are played at the same time it can have a profound impact. Moreover, if we have two virtuosos with individual perspectives behind those instruments, a lasting musical experience is guaranteed. Visitors of WOMEX will have the unique opportunity to listen to Cimbalomduó, the act of Kálmán Balogh and Miklós Lukács, live in Müpa’s Bartók Hall (WOMEX Stage) on October 22nd. Dal+Szerző: Yesterday, while we were taking photos in the workshop, I had the opportunity to try out a cimbalom. My first, joyous impression was that it’s easy to extract the sounds. We got the right sounds and succeeded in playing it at once. Does it imply that it’s an easy instrument to play? Miklós Lukács: Not at all, although this kind of beginner’s success is a great advantage in music teaching, as the instrument allows itself to be tried out. Even complete beginners can be taught an easy, popular children’s tune quickly, within a few minutes. Indeed, while they keep pressing the pedals and try playing some tunes, the instrument captures them. In this respect, the cimbalom resembles the piano. In fact, as with the piano, it turns pretty serious after the first easy steps. Kálmán Balogh: Especially because, and this is unlike the piano, the sound system of the cimbalom is not so simple to grasp visually, and it even works its own logic on the ear. To reach a higher level of proficiency with this instrument, this peculiar system should be completely acquired first, which takes a lot of effort. That’s usually the real watershed. Those who manage to get through this obstacle can become professional cimbalom players. D+SZ: One thing is for certain; the cimbalom makes a huge impression even on first-time listeners. Do you remember your first encounter with the instrument? M.L.: I can’t recall it, but it was definitely a decisive encounter. (Laughs) I was born in Törökszentmiklós and the there was only one taxi in the town at the time. So when my parents took me home from the hospital after I was born, on the top of the taxi, a cimbalom traveled with us as well. It was because after the driver dropped us off at home, he took the instrument to a wedding party. On the very first journey of my life I was accompanied by a cimbalom. True, the instrument also awaited me at home as my father was cimbalom player. Therefore, it was completely natural for me that as soon

as I could, I started trying out beating the instrument. I have distinctive childhood memories of my father practicing, his colleagues visiting us, and everyone playing music together. Interestingly, I started relatively late, at the age of 8 learning and practicing playing on the instrument. However, as long as I can remember, there has always been a cimbalom near me. KB: I wasn’t predestined by my family to play the cimbalom. Even though my paternal grandfather played the violin, my father didn’t become a musician. I was a good student, and my family thought that I was going to follow in my father’s footsteps and become some sort of engineer. On my mother’s side, however, there were lots of famous gypsy musicians in the family, and one of the most renowned was Elemér Balogh, the cimbalom player. We lived in Miskolc, but we visited him in Budapest once. I was eleven at the time. He asked me if I was learning to play any instruments, and he asked whether or not I was becoming a musician. As always, we replied that I was going to be some kind  23

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 of an engineer. Later, he pulled me over to his cimbalom and played a Romanian sirba tune in B minor that he was practicing for the album he was recording. A couple of minutes later, I played the three-part, difficult tune back to him, which of course astonished him quite a bit as that was the first time I had seen a cimbalom in my life. Eventually, it was uncle Elemér who recommended to my parents to make me learn to play the cimbalom, to see if something might possibly come out of it. (Laughs)

KB: That would have been the easy route, but we chose a different one. And it wasn’t because we did classical college studies as well. We learnt a lot there, too, but that wasn’t what really mattered. The approach, the searching spirit, was a lot more important. ML: We shall mention Aladár Rácz here. His approach was crucial in gaining ground for the cimbalom’s existence in classical music. He was the first to experiment with things like playing Bach on a cimbalom. He also developed the instrument. He worked on developing a new type of hammer for ten years. He was a real pioneer. According to the well-known story, Ernest Ansermet and Igor Stravinsky heard him play classical music in 1915 in a coffee house in Geneva, and that’s how his career started. At the same time, the cimbalom’s classical music career took off, and that’s how its versatility unfolded. Aladár Rácz’s wife, pianist Yvonee Barblan, for example, came up with the idea that it would be interesting to experiment with playing baroque music on it, as the cimbalom can sound like a harpsichord, but its sound is a lot richer. And of course, Aladár Rácz had his pupils, who further developed his knowledge. Europe got to know and appreciate the instrument. After Stravinsky, more and more people started composing for it, and I don’t think there is a contemporary composer who hasn’t written anything on the cimbalom. There is a strange duality, because a lot of people think of the cimbalom as a coffee house instrument, and it’s the core member of gypsy bands. There is nothing wrong with that, because it’s also an important part of the story. However, by today, the cimbalom has a hundred-year-old classical music tradition, as well. Such contemporary composers as Eötvös, Kurtág, and many others have carried on this tradition. Even Pierre Boulez has written for the cimbalom. For anyone looking for a strong, expressive instrument as a composer, the cimbalom is a great choice.

D+SZ: How institutionalized is cimbalom education in Hungary? D+SZ: It seems that the life of a classical music cimbalom ML: It absolutely is! The instrument has been taught on an aca- player is pretty busy. demic level since the 1890s. Anyone who wants to can learn to play ML: Well, mine is! (Laughs) Fortunately, I play a lot all around it. What’s more problematic is what they can do afterwards, where the world with excellent symphonic orchestras. they can go. Based on family traditions, the career of coffee house KB: We should just add that Miklós is exceptional among the musicians was open to both of us, but we didn’t go down that route. cimbalom players. Not simply because he knows and plays these 24

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contemporary works on a very high level, but also because he is at home in jazz as well, and he is a composer, too. That’s why he is invited to all these places. The life of an average classical musical cimbalom player is not like his. Generally, orchestra repertoires don’t give too much work for them. ML: It’s true, but at the same time the contemporary repertoire is so wide that there is no reason to complain. Indeed, experimentation and discovery is an absolute must. When I got my degree, I had to face up to the same problem, but I took it as finally being able to try things out that I hadn’t had the time for earlier. For instance, I started a Balkan band and played all sorts of music, and because of that, the world opened up for me. And what I realized was that when the world opened up for me, then I could also open up to the world. KB: Being a cimbalom player is not an acknowledged, let alone, prosperous profession today. It was the opposite at the time when gypsy music flourished. A cimbalom player could be sure to be able to bring home the bacon. These bands provided the most of live music. There was a significant demand for it, which has disappeared by today. Obviously, there is even less need for classical music cimbalom playing, so we can say that there is truly not much to do. That’s why today, a cimbalom player has to come up with ideas on how to be creative with his instrument, and what personal journey he should embark on. There are no pre-determined careers, but there is an expressive, versatile, exotic instrument. I always think about how I could play newly heard music on the cimbalom, and whether the boundaries of the genre would allow it. Folk music has always attracted me, and not only Hungarian, but also Bulgarian, Romanian, and Greek cimbalom music. I also joined an improvisational contemporary band in which we played a completely different, very free music. I wanted to try out everything on the cimbalom. I did a lot of things at the same time. Once, I even joined a ragtime band for a few concerts. As for folk music, I also played a lot in amateur hobby bands, which is again a different approach. Besides the musical experiences, it also resulted in making my web of connections completely European, and very colorful. In this way, the world also opened up for me as a cimbalom player. D+SZ: Your desire for experimenting is also proved by your current act, Cimbalomduó. ML: My friendship with Kálmán goes back a long way, although, due to the age difference, at the beginning, I was just a snotty kid. (Laughs) Then as I also became a concert playing cimbalom player, we kept talking about how great it would be to do something together. The two cimbaloms together has a very profound effect. It’s also a great show, and so it always appeared to be an exciting idea for us. Eventually, a request brought the opportunity for us to play together, and we knew immediately that it was going to work. We were also lucky to have the chance to record our first album, thanks to Endre Liber and the Folkeuropa Kiadó. It was a relatively easy birth. We both brought our ideas, and it became sufficiently colorful. Kálmán started out from folk music, and me from contemporary and jazz music. A unique sound came out of it, and novelty was also part of the success. The second record was already a slightly harder birth, it always is, but it performed well above expectations. For a long time, we were doing very well in the sales charts and a lot of people recognized the duo. That’s how we got invited to play on WOMEX’s stage. Our latest success is that the Cimbalomduó received the Hungarian Heritage Award. However, the most important aspect is still discovery and experimentation, and I can say there are a lot of things we haven’t tried out yet. n Interviewed by: györgy hegyi photo: szilárd nagyillés (dal+szerző)

miklós lukács Miklós Lukács is one of the most wellknown and many-sided cimbalom players today. His unique style is inspired by contemporary classical music; roots music from his native Hungary as well as the Balkans; and, last but not least, jazz. He has played together with world-famous jazz performers; Charles Lloyd, Archie Shepp, Chris Potter, Steve Coleman, Herbie Mann, Uri Caine, Chico Freeman – to name a few. He has excelled within this genre on an international level, and also made his mark in the contemporary classical scene.

kálmán balogh Kálmán Balogh is one of the foremost Hungarian cimbalom players, descending from a famous dynasty of Hungarian Gypsy musicians. His virtuosity is matched only by his understanding and respect of his heritage. He has completed many successful tours throughout the world with various ensembles, including five tours in North America. In 1985 he was awarded the Hungarian distinction of “Young Master of Folk Arts”, and two years later he won second prize in the Aladár Rácz cimbalomcompetition. He plays mostly authentic folk music from Hungary and from the Balkans, though during the last years he has played with jazz groups, rock bands and a symphony orchestra, too. october 22nd 23.00–23.45 cimbalom duo müpa womex stage




then and now The word originated from kümbalon, which had already appeared in the Bible and was translated to latin as cymbalum. The instruments, however, named as cymbalum were various and most probably far from today’s cimbalom. The trapezoid instrument are believed to have Persian origins, mentioned as szantir in 13rd century records. Its popularity is undiminished in the region, and it was brought to Europe from there in the 14th century. The structure of this early version was simpler than today’s cimbalom. In the West, it was used as a folk instrument for a long period, as a result of its smaller, usually 1-2 octave range and the lack of muting, which made the string resonating constantly. The cimbalom has only became a favoured solo and chamber instrument in the first half of the 18th century. After the trend has passed, it was used most commonly by folk 26

musicians again. In Hungary, the first appearence of the cimbalom in surviving documents dates back to the 16th century and it is known for a fact that the cimbalom had a distinctive role in 17th century court music. Its first golden era and spread of use are owed to the gipsy music groups in the 18th century. The second golden era started in the 1870s, when the new cimbalom appeared with a wider range and a mute pedal. The improvements brough out the instrument’s true potentials, and made cimbalom qualified for playing classical music too.


A cimbalom player strikes the strings of the cimbalom with two hammers (beaters). The hammers are usually made from fruit trees, typically from cherry or walnut; cotton, or other materials such as felt, or leather covers their tip. Depending on the cover of the hammers, and the location where the string is hit, the cimbalom can have a wide range of different sounds. The cimbalom is mainly made from wood, only the material of the inner structure is metal. The parts responsible for the static solidity of the instrument are made from harder wood, usually from beech or maple, while the material of the parts responsible for the sounds is spruce fir. Tuned to A440 (pitch standard), the strings of the cimbalom have about 12 tons pulling force on the structure. Newly made cimbaloms are the most expensive ones. Apart from a few special instruments, the value of the cimbaloms decreases with age. The price of a newly made, good quality instrument is between 1,000-6,000 euros. The price is mostly determined by ď ˝ the size and the complexity of the structure.



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 An average cimbalom consists of 500 parts. The main reason for this is the 133 strings, each of which requires hooks, tuning keys and other small things. Traditionally, cimbalom making is a very meticulous task. Cimbalom makers are trained by a special school under the professional supervision of the Hungarian Music Academy. The location of the practical training is obviously the cimbalom-making workshop. The professional training can be started after the secondary school, and it takes three years. Following a successful exam, candidates of master exams have to wait another five years. At the end of the 1800s, there were forty workshops where they made cimbaloms. Today, only two operate. Prague-born József Vencel Schunda, (1845-1923) invented the cimbalom. Schunda, who settled in Budapest, was an instrument manufacturer, and music publisher. On top of perfecting the instrument, with his excellent marketing skills, he also managed to spread it. About ten thousand cimbaloms were made in his factory, but the plant practically kept all the popular instruments of the era in production, with special respect to the equipment of military orchestras. n györgy hegyi photo: szilárd nagyillés (dal+szerző)


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hungarian artists The Gypsy HeartBeats (István Pál Szalonna’s band & Radics Ferenc, Bea Palya, Tcha Limberger, Mónika Lakatos & Romengo, Attila 1095 Budapest, Komor Marcell utca 1. Oláh) celebrate the exceptional role the Roma have played in susinfo@mupa.hu taining and renewing the music of the Carpathian Basin. Cimbahttp://www.mupa.hu lomduo is a summit meeting of two master cimbalom players, the Buda Folk Band is a Hungarian folk music ensemble consisting Müpa Budapest is one of Hungary’s best known cultural brands of young city dwellers. Ági Herczku is the best known folk-ethno and one of its most modern cultural institutions. It brings to- singer in Hungary. gether the many and varied disciplines of the arts in unique fashion by providing a home for classical, contemporary, popu- october 21st lar and world music, not to mention jazz and opera, as well as 20.30–21.45 gipsy heartbeats womex stage contemporary circus, dance, literature and film. october 22nd 23.00–23.45 cimbalom duo womex stage The venue known to Hungarians simply as Müpa opened its october 23rd doors in 2005 to offer cultural events of the highest quality to 21.00–21.45 buda folk band club duna stage the diverse audiences for the above genres. october 24th 21.00–21.45 ági herczku & band club duna stage 30

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bálna 1093 Budapest, Fővám tér 11-12. info@balnabudapest.hu http://www.balnabudapest.hu Bálna is a commercial, cultural, entertainment and leisure centre. A meeting point and a place for experiences. It connects downtown and inner Ferencváros, the tourist zone and the gastro-zone. It has a unique way to create an intimate contact with the Danube. The building is a characteristic attraction, as well as the sight of the city from Bálna. The marketplace of Bálna serves as a complementation and continuation of the market described as the best one in Europe by CNN Travel: Nagycsarnok. It offers a wide range of bio-products, antiquities, and everyday tools that represent the recent aesthetic values. Bálna serves as the home to Budapest Gallery, which exhibits Hungarian and foreign contemporary art.

trade fair Lying at the heart of WOMEX, the Trade Fair – 660 exhibiting companies from 47 countries at 280 stands – hums with energy and activity and is one of the top drawcards of the event. conference Tackle the latest music industry trends and innovations at the WOMEX Conference. Experienced peers and special guests offer delegates their expertise in over 20 Conference Sessions, Networking Meetings & Presentations, Speed-Dating and a Mentoring programme. films WOMEX is delighted to present its first ever in-house curated film programme. 15 striking documentaries co-produced in 19 different countries – new releases that portray music, movements and history from across the world. Many of the films selected will enjoy their European or Hungarian premieres at WOMEX 15 in Budapest.  31

a38 ship

hungarian artists Bazaar Kings are DJs Superstereo and Pozor. They combine traditional world music from Balkan/gypsy to African and Latin Petőfi bridge, Buda side roots, mixing it all up with modern electronic genres including info@a38.hu global bass, tropical bass or Balkanbeat. Specially for Womex http://www.a38.hu they teamed up with serbian Mc Killo Killo, who is a significant name in the world/global bass scene scoring several international A38 is the reincarnation of a Ukranian stone-carrier ship. The aim collaborations, like with Dj Click, Shazalakazoo or Dunkelbunt. of A38 is to become a modern, pleasant, dynamic cultural centre. Besides its international music programming it also provides womex dj summit home for various cultural activities such as professional meetings, film, literature, digital and even gastronomy events. The october 23rd A38 team initiates and manages its own projects as well as hires 00.00 bazaar kings main hall the venue for independent promoters and cultural organisations for artistic events. The programming is very broad in terms of styles and genres but consistent in quality standards.



fonó 1116 Budapest, Sztregova utca 3. fono@fono.hu http://www.fono.hu

hungarian artists A jury of Hungarian music professionals has chosen 10 bands (from 95 applicants) who will perform at this unofficial pre-WOMEX Showcase of Hungarian groups. pre-womex showcase of hungarian groups

“Fonó” in the simplest interpretation of the word, is a commu- october 20th nal space. Here, people of various cultures and creative groups 18.00–18.30 have found each other, have had fun, and have worked together 18.30–19.00 throughout the years. Thanks to its cultural openness, Fonó has 19.10–19.40 become a legendary place, a receptive medium still operating as 19.40–20.10 a privately owned institution. When developing a profile at the 2 0.10–20.40 beginnings, they concentrated on fostering and presenting Cen- 20.40–21.10 tral European folk music. Over time, the most prominent Hun- 2 1.10–21.40 garian jazz and ethno-jazz artists, and well-known performers of 21.50–22.20 the European world music scene have also found a steady and 22.20–22.50 cozy workshop here. 23.00–23.30

david yengibarian trió fonó band zombori meszecsinka babra kerekes band parno graszt góbé dina holddalanap

main hall pajta main hall pajta small stage main hall pajta main hall pajta main hall 33



Hungarian World Music round-up Naturally, it is pretty challenging to pick 12 acts from the Hungarian world music scene that has been blossoming for decades and growing in leaps in recent years, still we tried. Before that, we took stock of the bands (and labels) in a short, list-like introduction – which­–of course–is incomplete due to the limited space available. 34

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The doyen of Hungarian world music is of course Béla Bartók himself, who defined the attitude towards folk music for an entire cultural era. Right now, it’s impossible to follow this thread, so we fast forward to the 1970s and the beginnings of a circle of urban youngsters, whose approach to folklore might not have been uniform, but nevertheless they created the basis for something that evolved into the táncház (collective, casual folk dance event) movement and into other directions as well. Ferenc Sebő’s ensemble and Muzsikás found their own, independent ways soon after the start – Sebő is a determining theoretical scholars of folk music, and an active musician who has created his own folk music language and formation. In the 1970s and for the major part of the 1980s, folk and world music records were released almost exclusively by the state label, Hungaroton. In connection with an unexpected posthumous record release opportunity a few years ago, it turned out that the predecessor of Kolinda, the Orfeo Zenészcsoport had already been playing folk-based pop, and folk-pop at that, still, Kolinda is regarded to be the first real Hungarian world music formation. Many of the members embarked on solo careers later; for instance Ferenc Kiss has operated several bands (Vízöntő, Vasmalom, Etnofon Zenei Társulás) and “one-night-only” acts, and he is still active. In 1992, he founded Etnofon Records, which has published collections and thematic compilations as well as various bands (Ferenc Kiss, Béla Ágoston, Arasinda, Nigun, Odessa Klezmer Band, Rományi Rota, Zurgó). The founding father of poems set to music and folk-based bands, Kaláka (since 1969) is still active - in the meantime, generations were raised on their songs. Kaláka-style is essentially a world music subgenre in Hungary, with representatives like the Sebő Ensemble, Szélkiáltó (since the 1970s), the old-fashioned troubadour Tamás Kobzos Kiss, as well as some of the “newcomers”, like Misztrál, Göncölszekér, Musica Historica, the Kosbor Trio, and the Sator Quartet – although the latter third are early music bands. Existing since the 1970s, the story of Vujicsics is an entirely different story. The band playing Southern Slav music has influenced many even outside their genre–and the formation of the members’ children, Söndörgő is one of the best (and easiest to sell) production in the international world music scene. Beginning with the 1980’s, numerous high-impact bands and performers addressing wider audiences entered the scene, from Makám through Ghymes to Nikola Parov. The 1990s were already part of the Golden Age, especially from the second half when publishing and club life swung into high gear. In addition to Etnofon, Fonó Music Hall released the most records, especially folk music (including the recordings of the renown Utolsó Óra/The ÉRI PÉTER, HALMOS BÉLA, SEBŐ FERENC PHOTO: FOLKMAGAZIN Heritage of Our Future project) world music (Besh o droM, Csík zenekar, Bran, Fonó zenekar, Kálmán Balogh, Irén Lovász, Ágnes Herczku, Cimbaliband, Vágtázó Csodaszarvas, Morotva, Chagall Klezmer Band, Mydros, Fanfara Complexa, Góbé), and ethno-jazz (Dresch Quartet, Borbély Quartet, EastWing) – not to mention that Fonó used to be considered the best táncház and live venue for a long while. Kaláka’s own label, the Gryllus Kiadó (Kaláka, Sebő, Mari Nyeső, Role, Márta Sebestyén, György Ferenczi és a Rackajam, Szilvia Bognár, Edina Mókus Szirtes, Vodku, Zoltán Rátóti, Holddalanap) is also still functioning, with releases worthy of note.


In the footsteps of Kalyi Jag and Ando Drom, there was a surge in the emergence of Gypsy heritage and roots bands (Romano Drom, Kanizsa Csillagai, Ternipe, Szilvási Gipsy Folk Band, Amaro Suno, Parno Graszt, EtnoRom, Karavan Familia, Khamoro, Romengo), the majority of these signed with the best world music labels. After the Millennium, several new labels and distributors (FolkEuropa, X-Produkció, NarRator, Hangvető) started operation (while already existing ones, such as Bahia and Trottel also joined the scene) and took up world music acts (Félix Lajkó, Ági Szalóki, Úzgin Űver, Napra, Buda Folk Band, Cabaret Medrano, Cirkusz-Ka, Meszecs­ inka, Róbert Lakatos és a RÉV, Live Act Folk, Magyarvista Social Club, Bea Palya, Pravo, Navrang, Tűz Lángja, Őskestar, A Köztársaság Bandája, Apnoé, Balázs Dongó Szokolay, Tárkány Művek, Kerekes Band, Drum and Folk, Hypernomad, Mesi Trio, Csürrentő, Fakutya, Ablakanapra). In recent years, several bands have taken to publishing and managing themselves, and the allround use of the online surfaces has also become a standard. The scene is sizzling, musically speaking, but the major drop in the opportunities to play live has left its mark. It is mostly events organized around an idea, theme or anniversary, plus talent shows workshops and festivals that seem to relieve this problem momentarily. n 

Mihály Rácz









The Hungarian folk band is most widely recognized on the international level. Muzsikás re-introduced traditional strings to the public consciousness, and they moved on a scale from Bartók’s heritage to guitar folk.

One of the first representatives of feeling expressed through over-arching compositions rooted in Hungarian folk music, and world music.

Having started by shaping jazz and oriental music to their liking, the band today writes vocal-focused songs with all their merits kept intact.

the band

the band

The band, which was founded in 1974, struck no interest whatsoever in Hungary, apart from the táncház events. Western record companies were quick to sign them, though, so locals were at least awed and proud in hindsight. They had an arduous journey. It wasn’t necessarily the struggles that disrupted the band. The members scattered after a few albums, some to France, and some to America, while others stayed in Hungary. Kolinda was revived in the 1980s with old and new members, who worked closely with Makám, and some kept returning, sometimes focusing on an icon. Several of its members (Péter Dabasi, Ferenc Kiss, Iván Lantos, Szabolcs Szőke) embarked on successful solo careers and founded other significant bands.

Makám is undoubtedly hallmarked by musician/poet Zoltán Krulik, who keeps renewing the band, never failing to pick from the pool of the best musicians. He has worked with the cream of singers who have made a name in world music (Bea Palya, Ági Szalóki, Irén Lovász, Szilvia Bognár). Zoltán Krulik was already playing music in the 1970s, and went on to play in Makám and Kolinda. Founded in 1984, Makám’s first albums were instrumental, leaving room for improvisation, up to a game change in 1999, when a prolific era of songs began with the above-mentioned vocalists. Makám is perhaps the world music band with the most concerts ever played, since it tours with a kids’ and adults’ program simultaneously.

key albums

key albums

Although the Kolinda discography is quite sumptuous - the band even published a concert album together with Makám in 2011 - despite the rhapsodic history. Their strongest albums are their first few (I, II, és az 1514), unavailable in the years of release. Kolinda was clearly a trend-setter: they lifted folk music in one piece out of its own setting, and transplanted it into contemporary pop culture in spite of the lack of connection. If we had to pick one of the fundamental albums of the genre, it would by Kolinda II. without a question. n

Surprising as it may seem, the album that stands out from the early years is not a studio album, but one compiled of previously unreleased songs, Orient Occident. The song era’s strongest materials are those recorded with Irén Lovász and Szilvia Bognár – but the bee’s knees is Anzix (2009) featuring Szilvia Bognár, Bea Palya and Ági Szalóki. Recently, it turned out that Krulik Zoltán is not only an excellent songwriter, but also an excellent singer. The album Robinzon Kruzo was published under the name Makám, but it is the work of a new team of musicians, and bends more towards alterock than world music. n

the band Founded 42 years ago, the oeuvre of Muzsikás embraces almost everything that everyday music fans need to know about the Hungarian folk music heritage. Although others have progressed further in promoting the sound of different regions, Muzsikás and the Sebő Ensemble share the merits of laying down the foundations of the urban folk music movement. They have been playing at various táncház (collective folk dance) events since the 1970s, and they travelled to Transylvania to learn and collect music from the great musicians of old. Márta Sebestyén used to be a frequent collaborator on their earlier albums and tours. The band has won numerous awards such as the Liszt Ferenc Prize and the WOMEX Award in 2008.

key albums The rich oeuvre includes such highlights as the Bartók Album, featuring Alexander Balanescu. The album reflects on both Bartók’s music collecting and the strings music of the táncház movement. If you’d like to immerse yourself into the latter, go for the Szép hajnali csillag (Morning Star in international distribution). The band’s trips led them to the notions of “Jewish csárdás,” and “Jewish tuning,” which served as starting points to Szól a kakas már, the album born from the collection of Hungarian Jewish instrumental music. n 36

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ando drom

dresch quartet

úzgin űver




The founder of traditions-based urban The number one Hungarian ethno-jazz Richly arranged, flowing tunes with a fine Gypsy folk or Gypsy world music. band, with musicality and sound unique in texture. Completely ethno-based but catall respects. egorized as world music for want of better the band category. It has been nomen est omen for the band the band founded in the 1980s by Jenő Zsigó of Dresch Quartet is first and foremost the the band Nyírbátor: to improve, to be on one’s way band of saxophonist Mihály Dresch, and The name of the band means ‚an area with – and the band did, touring the receptive although his musicians are loyal there little water’ in Mongolian, and this reflects stages of the world, and collaborating with have been a number of changes in the line the mood of their music, which vibrates outstanding producers, publishers and up since the beginnings in 1980s. Mihály like an oasis of spiritual content in an inbands, like the French Bratsch. In an inter- Dresch is very much at home in classical creasingly bleak world. The band’s music view in 1996, sociologist/politician Zsigó jazz, as well as in Hungarian folk music includes rock, dub, jazz, electronic tones explained “The band has always been and folklore, and perhaps this is why he and various ethno impressions, but it is spontaneously transforming, anyone can can blend the two worlds so seamlessly. impossible to separate them, since Úzgin be in or out, still Ando Drom’s music will The fixed and improvisational parts of the Űver is – above all – compact. In their inalways be different from the music of oth- band’s songs do not separate, so the music strumental music, electronic tunes funcers. Perhaps it’s because we have liberated is flowing and bursting of life. The Quartet tion as a basis, while guitars and acoustic ourselves from barriers and prejudices. It plays regularly in the saxophone-double instruments dominate, and the human was difficult to make current Ando Drom bass-drums-hammered dulcimer line up, voice also serves as a kind of instrument. members believe that they have that music and could make claims to being one of the They play concerts both in and out of Hunin them which they had never sung out.” best live bands of the world. gary, and participate in contemporary art projects in the worlds of theatre, puppetkey albums key albums and dance theatre, and film. The first album has become unavailable It is extremely difficult to pick one aldue to various problems and scams, so bum, since all 21 studio albums would be key albums it is barely known, but Kaj Phirel O Del deserving of the title. If we must, we’d pick They only release records every 3-4 years, (1995) and especially Phari Mamo released Révészem, révészem… and Mozdulatlan so each and every one of them is a curitwo years later by Network Medien made a utazás from the early period - they paint osity. One that is worth picking out is 99 huge impact - even the band couldn’t rep- a great picture of the era, which many (1999) - small wonder the German label licate their quality for a while afterwards. consider the golden age of Dresch Quartet. The Lollipop Shop chose to re-release it The latter was made in collaboration with We are not necessarily on this opinion this year. This is their most psychedelic two members of Bratsch and with singer though, since more recent albums have album - its slowly building flow of music Juhász Miczura Mónika, who later went paid testament to a group of musicians has a unique ancient layer deep within. solo to blend Gypsy music with modern who are capable of serial and highly Our favorite is perhaps Bucka (2010): the electronic music. The band has remained enjoyable self-reflections and continuous songs have their own life, and the album active in the new millennium: Muro nav advance. You shouldn’t skip Fuhun (which encompasses all the colours of the oeuvre. (2005) is up to par with the above men- features the very first appearance of Bucka and an earlier album (Vörös Rébék) tioned two albums. n fuhun, a flute developed for Mihály Dresch) have remix versions: the electronic thread and Kapu és kert. Then there’s of course is in the hands of the guitarist and enHungarian bebop recorded with Dresch’s gine of the band, Péter Homoki, a.k.a. DJ idol Archie Shepp. n Sztyepp. n 37

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csík zenekar

parno graszt

szilvia bognár




Started from authentic folk music and The traditionalist renewers of Szatmár World music that has risen above Hungarreached folk covers of alterock songs, County Gypsy music. ian folk music, but encompasses a wide while remaining self-same all the way. range of ethno influences - all adapted to the band the voice of Szilvia Bognár. the band „Fehér Ló” was founded in the Szabolcs The 25-year-old band started out as a true County village of Paszab in 1987, and al- the band táncház strings band - their first two al- though the band has since reached world- Szilvia Bognár was raised on folk music and bums in the 1990s are reflections of this wide recognition - toured everywhere from won the Young Master of Folk Arts title era. Then collaborations with musician the US to India, and played at WOMEX in at the tender age of 18. As the singer of friends added jazz and other undertones to 2009 -, members continue to live in their Anima Sound System, she journeyed into their music. This escalated when the head beloved village. This is perhaps the reason modern dub/downtempo, before touring of Csík zenekar, János Csík and violinist At- why they - luckily - haven’t been infected Europe with the polyphonic Vándor Vokál. tila Szabó toured with the Hungarian alter- with unnecessary modernisms. The band Her years with Makám brought her real native band Kispál és a Borz, and started has a variety of concert and tour line-ups recognition in the world music. Treading covering their songs as if they were folk from a few musicians up to 20 members. the line between classical folk music and songs. Success hit when their adaptation Paszab is rich in musicians and dancers and world music, she is a regular guest with of Quimby’s Most múlik pontosan became the band has collected it entire repertoire bands and acts, like the Hungarian State a fast favorite of radios and an anthem locally. As opposed to the best heritage Folk Ensemble, the Duna Art Ensemble, of the period. Since then, they followed bands, they sing both in Romani and Hun- the Szeret zenekar, the Sebő együttes, the this track and been giving sold out shows garian, alternating between languages of- Etnofon Zenei Társulás, and the Szájról with special guests, like Tibi Kiss (Quim- ten within the same song. Szájra production (which features Ágnes by), András Lovasi (Kispál és a Borz), MiHerczku and Ági Szalóki). In 2011, after hály Dresch (Dresch Quartet), Hobo (Hobo key albums several solo albums, she founded Bognár Blues Band) and György Ferenczi (Ferenczi Rávágok a zongorára (2002) was an in- Szilvia és az etNoé with her husband and György és a Rackjam). stant success and their official debut other excellent musicians. The band plays (although they have a little known album regular concerts and a children’s show tikey albums from before). The album made it to the tled Csintekerintő. Their first record that wasn’t limited to au- 7th place of the World Music Charts Euthentic music is A kor falára (2001), which rope, and its title song is a must-play at key albums features the song Én vagyok az, aki nem jó. every concert. The following two albums Anima Sound System’s Shalom was reThe adaptations were first released in their (Járom az utam, Ez a világ nekem való) visited live this year, on account of the full glory on Senki nem ért semmit (2005), followed the footsteps of the successful 20-year anniversary. The top pick of her but it was the following Ez a vonat ha elin- debut, but fell short of it. Reggelig mulatok solo albums is Semmicske énekek (2008), dult, hadd menjen…that included the re- (2011), however, brought new colours and since it is the most colourful and reveals nowned Quimby cover. Surprising as it may became perhaps the best record by Parno all of Szilvia through her sparkling, heartseem knowing similar success stories, Csík Graszt, thanks to its ambitious songs. In warming vocals. For the fans of old music zenekar continues to make a point of writ- addition to the studio album, this release Szájról Szájra’s album is a must, on which ing high quality music and making power- contains a DVD as well, with a professional the three singers draw on the traditions house albums - no longer only adapting, and entertaining road movie shot during of the entire Carpathian Basin. The debut but also writing alterrock songs. n the band’s tour in India. n of etNoé is undoubtedly one of the best records of recent years. n 38

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buda folk band

tárkány művek





Exploring heights and depths of authentic An acoustic band taking folk music, jazz Their self-applied label is psychedelic folk music, labelled as world music. and various Hungarian song traditions se- world, which we accept, stating that their riously. scope is definitely wider.

the band

The crew of Buda Folk Band comes from a new generation of young musicians feeding on traditions. Although, we ‚re talking about youngsters from the capital, the cultural environment they live and play music in hasn’t simply determined their attitude but has also expanded it along with modern life: they believe Hungarian folk music is ab ovo world music. The hearts of the band, Márton Éri and Sándor Csoóri are offsprings of Muzsikás members. The band plays at táncház events and concerts, using not only classical strings, but also several of the folk instruments of neighbouring nationalities, such as the kaval, the tambura, the cobza and the accordion.

key albums Since we’re talking about a young band, there are only two albums to speak of, but one is better than the other. Sűrű Vándor (2011) is a rock and roll album disguised as folk music, staging the folk of the Carpathian Basin in a traditional arrangement apart from a few tricks and added instruments (guitar, saxophone), still, it is as if you were listening to a blues or rock tempo, even when you’ re listening to a csárdás. Runner-up of the World Music Charts Europe 2014, Magyar Világi Népzene (2013) confirmed that the band plays some of the most exciting rock and roll folk music in the world. It has a natural sound, which embraces and permeates in the most beautifully soaring sections and the wildest gallops, too. n

the band

the band

The young team founded by composer/songwriter/cimbalom player Bálint Tárkány-Kovács in 2008 made a clear mark in the Hungarian and international books of world music with their 2010 album Arcomba az arcod vésted. One of the most prestigious world music labels, World Music Network released this debut as appendix to their Rough Guide to the Music of Hungary compilation. We, in Hungary, are happy to see a folk-based band of trained folk musicians that did not go all-in for heritage, but created an independent voice with a wide musical basis, embodying the essence of the 100-year-old tradition of Hungarian song culture.

As for roots, the heart and soul of the band is Emil Biljarszki, who spent about 15 years as keyboard player of Korai Öröm, and is a known figure of the Hungarian world music and underground scenes from the music industry to the stages. First, Biljarszki, some others from Korai Öröm, and the wonderful singer Annamária Oláh founded Fókatelep, which came to be the parent band of Meszecsinka. With the addition of three musicians, the whole things has wound up, and the music sometimes overflows the intimate category. In 2011, they won the world music category of the FolkBeats talent show and participated in an American tour as part of their prize.

key albums

key albums

With all due respect to the above-mentioned debut, it was Cimesincs (2013) that took the huge step forward: it plays with various genres with loads of instruments employed in an unusual manner, travelling around jazz, folk music and tango with saxophone, cimbalom, viola, and gardon, improvising on the basis of familiar folk tunes, ignoring authenticity, creating a new language. Julianna Paár’s vocals elevate this truly loveable band and pop music itself to rare heights. The majority of the songs on the live album Őszi vázlatok (2013) recorded with Mihály Dresch had already been included on the two studio albums, still, it can be accounted as a new record, due to the tangible power of live performance that has resuscitated the songs. n

By the time of the self-titled debut album, Meszecsinka, the band’s image, sound and music was full-fledged. Mature songs of refined curve, lining up embracing melodies and sound coulisses, where the intimate, chanson-like moments can draw you just like the sweeping, rocking dashes; everything is permeated by a thick and tangible atmosphere, in which the essence of pan-European culture can be heard beyond the components of the musical language. Kinyílok’s (2014) sound has a fine-tuned balance of electronic and acoustic, where all the elements are compatible and interrelated. n Mihály Rácz



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making song of flesh “Alone or with a band – it’s all the same, it always enchants me.” Un-reigned foal, turned into Pegasus. Her achievements are only outnumbered by her plans. See where Bea Palya comes from, where she is now, and where she is heading. Dal+Szerző: Why music? Bea Palya: My first encounter with music was through the radio, which I adored. I was a kid in the ‚70s and ‚80s, and who was playing on the radio? Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and, I don’t know, Demjén [Hungarian pop-rock singer], those are the few I remember now. The other musical thread that came into my life just as forcefully around the age of six was Hungarian folk music. I’m from a village called Bag, which used to have a heritage group with world-class training. I was admitted at the age of six, [I learned] singing and dance, and I lived in it. I remember the Székely forgatós, and the Kalotaszegi [dances], and I tried to eavesdrop on the lyrics of what the grown-ups sang during that hobbling dance. I was crazy for these [songs]; I thought they were wonderful. My music teacher noticed, and sent me to a singing competition in second or third grade. I won. Let it be remembered that my preparation began with the teacher giving me a [folk song] collection tape with a Moldovan elderly woman singing the prayer Én felkelék jó reggel hajnalban. But I didn’t have a cassette player, and was too ashamed to admit it. I took the tape home and wondered how I would learn the music. A few days later, I still couldn’t listen to it, so my teacher lent me a cassette player, which had buttons of the size of my fist. D+SZ: Does music run in your family? BP: To tell you the truth, both of my grandpas played music, but neither did it for a living. Whenever he wasn’t playing the double bass, one of them, a man of Gypsy origin, pushed a cart in the fields, fed the horses, or helped with the cow that was giving birth. He played music, and went when duty called. My other grandpa was an art lover. He was member of the village theatre group, and he played the zither and the mandolin, but I didn’t know him. There is a love of music in me from both of my parents, that’s for sure, and they had a desire to integrate more music into my life. Neither of them, however, counted on it becoming my profession. For a long time, the conflict of my

life was, “OK, you’re singing, but when will you have a proper job?” Accepting this as a career was terrifying for them. Then things changed slowly, gradually; and of course, “We saw you on telly!” helped. D+SZ: When did it become crystal clear that you wanted to sing? BP: It was apparent quite early on that I am most happy when I express myself through song and dance. I studied at the Apáczai Secondary School, along with kids of diplomats, who knew three languages by the time they reached 8th grade, because they had lived here and there; and then there was me, from the countryside, with dancing and singing as my extra-curricular activities. I was very lucky that I could join a dance group, Bartók, where it was a privilege that I knew these [dances], and knew them well. The fact that others also appreciated this gave me roots. The Bag traditions, like the Muharay Elemér Folk Ensemble, had a really good letter of credence at the time, and I loved that I could build on it. It was later that I leaned more towards music than dance. I have always loved singing, and after a while on my path to spiritual transformation, I began to feel that I had an increasing need to express my own content, instead of rehearsing any kind of choreography for the 5th time in a row in a huge community [of dancers]. Then came the bands; I had one in Bag, then I had one here in Pest, called Zurgó, in ‚94. I was just a secondary school student then, and I was singing everything solo. My soul was guiding me more and more into this direction, but the possibility of a making a career out of it arose probably around university. D+SZ: Did you immediately know what kind of music you wanted to play? BP: A cappella has been a determining thing for me. There is a woman or man singing on a recorded track, and as it comes across to me, I feel whole. There is nothing ambiguous about music. There is only the song, which comes right through to me.  41

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 This type of music is a solid foundation for me, such as the forming of songs, words, and melodies. These things transgress the coldness of the recorded media, or the stage-audience distance at a concert. I have often stated that in folk music, they never opened their throats to sing until they had a good reason to. The subject of their music was always connected to life. There were weddings, rites, deaths, births, emotions, he left me, I was left, I’m happy, I’m merry, we’re going to the community house, we are shucking corn – everything [they sang about] was related to moments of life, and feelings arising in the soul. I held on to

D+SZ: How important is improvisation for you? BP: Oh, so much! It is the root of everything. I sing my songs differently each time, which is lifelike, and this is what gets me. I don’t dress up the same way twice, and I don’t walk down the street the same way twice. The captivating thing for me with songs is when I can play with them, add something new to them. I also play with musicians who can start from scratch. I remember when I was learning this, I was afraid I was shit, and I was constantly judging myself in my mind at every improvisational part. That’s when a French saxophonist colleague told me, “Listen, it’s all the same if you just emit one sound, but do emit it, give it to me, because it’s where I can start from.” If you give it and then fall silent, or give it being barely present, it’s not going to work. Improvisation is about presence. Obviously, it’s also about technical knowledge, but you have to be there to back it up, otherwise the others cannot follow. Even I cannot start from just throwing something out there, and it’s just barely there, because then I’m already judging it in the moment of releasing it. I’m saying, “Do you think it’s not good enough?” Well, who the hell cares? People come to listen to you, because they are curious about what you know, not what you don’t know.

that, but I started writing my own songs, because although I felt that the topics of folk songs were good, I wasn’t living those. I don’t plow and sow. My babe was not enlisted as a soldier and sent away. He is living in Amsterdam, and I can write him emails, or jump on a plane [to see him]. What I write about, and the language I use, has transformed.

D+SZ: You seem to be quite hyper. Can you even stop? BP: I’m a country girl, I grew up knowing one flower from the other, and then I forgot this for a while. I became a metropolitan, even a cosmopolitan girl, living in Paris and Amsterdam, and traveling between Japan and America. I remember playing in Kyrgyzstan a few years ago, and you could just bite the air. I sat down under a bush to practice, and a rabbit jumped out beside me, and there were birds everywhere, and then it struck me that I needed so much more of this. A few years later, I decided that I’d take a break every winter, and travel to the sea. One must leave room for creative work, to allow your cells to loosen up, and spend time in the small pause after inhaling and before exhaling. I often claim with no small self-irony that, ‚I am victim of my own creativity,’ but it’s true. There is always music playing in my mind. I’m always pondering melodies and lyrics when I should sometimes just sit and stare instead. It was perhaps Albert Einstein who said, “How do I explain to my wife that I’m still working even when staring out of the window?” It is still so surprising that the best things come to my mind when I’m doing nothing.

D+SZ: How hard was it to find your own voice? BP: Each and every one of my albums is an important stage of my life, but it was the kids’ tale album Álom-álom, kitalálom in 2004 that brought the first major reinforcement for me as a songwriter. I had a concrete story in my mind, born from working with kids, but evidently I kneaded my own stories into it as well, like the French dance instructor, and Boris Vian’s cocktail piano. Then there were the Quintet years, which yielded lots of beautiful songs, too. The next piece, Egyszálének, I created all by myself, so it gave me a huge push forward as a singer-songwriter. Then came Altatok, born from an unstoppable stream of inspiration. Lili was kicking inside my belly while I sat on the carpet at 4 a.m., singing. l had things to express, and I just started to grasp that I was really going to be a mother, which I had been D+SZ: Your music is not necessarily mainstream. anticipating for a long time, but I was also afraid. There was no BP: Somehow I can’t seem to use song forms, like introduction, turning back. I could only go forward, life-bound. verse, interlude, verse, interlude, bridge, refrain, and so on, even 42

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though it sounds good to me. I grew up on folk songs, which often come in strophic style. There is a recurring melody, and I sing the story to that. There is also oriental music, with a slow introduction, a mid-beat part, and at the end it escalates to upbeat, or it forms alternating fast and slow sections. I can rarely use the traditional pop song style, but as God’s my witness, I’m trying. It’s just not what I’m cut out for. My odd rhythms don’t work towards popularity, either, but, hey, I find the 7/8 and 5/8 songs that have a strange pulse beautiful. Much depends on the mode of singing and the reason why I sing. I am the singer archetype that makes songs from my own flesh, but it’s always the audience that gives a meaning to the song. I want my listeners to find themselves in the song, to feel something change in them in the long run. This, too, might not be a pop music motivation, although there are lots of different kinds of pop music as well. A song is good for me when I experience it like a man stepping into my space, coming towards me, wanting to hug me. I remember one of my music teachers from India who talked to me in a way that made me feel that all of his words were like knives in my spine. Sometimes it was murderous, but it stayed with me. Technique is only a part of this. Mouth opening, and articulation are only pieces. It is more of an inner resolve. I open myself up, because every cell of me wants what I sing about to reach others. D+SZ: Recently, there have been more and more people understanding what you sing about. BP: First and foremost, I’m doing this for myself, but looking back at recent years, my music really started to resonate in others. I can love songs of the, „Touch me now, I close my eyes,” kind, but only songs like Joni Mitchell’s songs, born from a very deep spiritual texture can spin me around and re-write me. Singing poet Sándor Weöres’ Psyché poems have changed me, too. True, it wasn’t all fun and laughs all the way, but this gave me the strength to take steps forward, and I’d like to channel that to people. I believe one of my core strengths is being able to go deep, and bring up soulful matter for songs. This does not exclude me from singing freely soaring songs that are full of mirth, because I seem to feel that, too. I like to entertain, as there is also a clown inside of me. My friends love my retro show, with songs that are complete with video parodies, such as Emmanuelle and Sandokan. And then there are moments where Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are playing at full blast in the tour bus, and I go crazy. I love that, too. But when I close my eyes and listen to what my ears and heart hear to be truly beautiful, I first hear the instruments of countries south and east of us. It isn’t by chance that I assemble bands where these sounds make some kind of an appearance, and this kind of musical heritage is present. I think modally, that is, I don’t make up melodies for harmonies. I want to reach completion via the private tune. I am always experimenting with exciting shifts of melody, ornamentation, accents, and the length of pauses. My short and long excursions to the world of traditional music helped me create a musical language, which can fill my private affairs with the most life and meaning possible. This can make the lyrics soar. I have stubbornly stuck to all of this, which has luckily guided me away from the road of trends, because I don’t really want to go that way. D+SZ: Why? Should you be going that way? BP: It sometimes occurs to me that I could be more pop, but in the meantime, I love the place I am in now, and the person I’ve become. In a certain sense, I’m on the top of the world, because my true success lies in my internal freedom. I can step out anytime and visit the sea, and if I died tomorrow, it wouldn’t be my singing career I saw. It would be Lili’s pictures rolling down in front of my eyes, my giving birth, love, moods, seas, and whales. Concert halls? Not so much. n

bea palya Bea Palya was born on 11 November 1976. She spent her childhood in the countryside and moved to Budapest for secondary school. She was introduced to folk music and folk dance at the age of 6. In addition to Hungarian traditions, she is also at home in Bulgarian, Gypsy, Indian, Persian, and Sephardim music, which she shapes to her own personality. She is experimental and outspoken, even to the verge of provocative. She has played with a myriad of bands, and her album Adieu les complexes made it to the European World Music Chart. She sings with the same inspiration at Carnegie Hall and in the Tököl prison. She is also a writer.

october 21st gipsy heartbeats müpa womex stage

20.30–21.45 Interviewed by: GYŐZŐ NAGY, PHOTO: SZILÁRD NAGYILLÉS (dal+szerző)




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It shows that something is not right with me Even the more attentive people might picture the self-reliant violinist prodigy, Félix Lajkó as a wayward son. Even I called him self-reliant, which fits, but there is a conscious, hard work behind his oeuvre. Dal+Szerző: I read a review – a positive one at that – claim ‘it is certain now that Félix Lajkó is playing that one lifelong piece.’ What do you think? Félix Lajkó: There are many who keep saying that Lajkó hasn’t changed, he should still do this or do that. I don’t know what I should change, anyway. D+SZ: What do others change? FL: Should I do something different every time? Village violinists, for instance, play the same thing over and over again until the end of their lives, and that runs through generations. The same could be said for violin concertos. DSZ: Does this attitude disturb you? FL: I’m not disturbed by anything. I don’t really follow this, I’m not an Internet guy, but I sometimes read a couple of reviews. I’m mostly interested in the negative part, because you can learn from that. D+SZ: How was the musical language you live created? Was it fast? FL: No. I played the zither in our village, and I met professional zither players through my mother. They brought music

they listened to, various albums. I “over- taught me for a summer. As a retired postconsumed” records as a kid. man, he worked on his field, came home in the evening, bathed, and then taught me DSZ: What kind of music are we talk- a zither lesson. It was, of course, mostly ing about? Folk music? about Hungarian nóta pieces [19th cenFL: Not exclusively. There was rock and tury popular songs]. I learned them well. disco as well, but first and foremost classical and folk music, obviously because of D+SZ: Was there already a desire for the instruments, violin and zither. playing your own music? FL: No, the beauty of it laid in the abilD+SZ: Did you have them both from ity to play something you’ve heard. Later, the start? I had other teachers as well, up to which FL: No, zither came first. Originally, as point, I played with one finger, or with the a preschooler, I wanted to play the piano, pick of the zither. Mr. Feri Borsi started to but I wasn’t allowed. Later, I played the teach me more seriously, like how to play piano for two years in high school. Before with more than one finger. I went to comthat, I asked for a zither in 3rd grade. petitions, which I usually won. These were mostly folk music competitions. D+SZ: Were you attracted to violin because of the music you listened to? D+SZ: How did this turn into a musical FL: Hungarian folk music is chiefly vi- career? Was there a turning point or life olin-based, and it is also used in classical simply led you to it? music. It was my mum who talked me into FL: It was never a question, this was playing the violin later, plus I also liked it. what I knew how to do. I could have been a teacher. I wasn’t a bad student D+SZ: What kind of teachers did you in elementary, although I hated it terribly. have? Then I went to a musical high school and FL: My first violin teacher was a village I thought the fuss was over and I could music teacher. As for the zither, it was go on and start playing music normally. an old man called Kálmán Kőműves, who It turned out it didn’t work like that. PE,  45

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math and the other lessons went on, so I started skiving off school. D+SZ: As for your current career, which is more interesting: to play solo or with others? FL: Perhaps solo. It is really close to my heart, but I believe you can’t always play solo to the audience. And to be honest, it is slightly exhausting, and more straining both physically and mentally. But it gives me a chance to improvise without constraints. When playing with a band, or in duo, there are songs, and these - although they include improvisations - have themes and compulsory parts. D+SZ: What do you prefer, clubs or larger venues? FL: I don’t really do clubs. Last year, I had a few, but I have none booked for this year yet. It’s mostly concerts and festivals. D+SZ: Are larger venues thoroughly different from places with the audience in close proximity? FL: No. Both have their own level of effort. In a pub, you have to break from it being entirely about entertainment, while in other places you have to give a deeper underlying meaning. People do not sit with you for 2 hours by accident. At the pub, people arrive, have drinks, and go to the toilet. At the concert hall they sit down for the show, and you have to give something more. D+SZ: You were a member of the Dresch Quartet for years. How was it working with a band of such defined character and with a strong personality like Mihály Dresch? FL: I learned his songs and got parts where I could improvise. Improvisation skills are a must in a jazz band. D+SZ: Did you have to comply with rules and learn a new musical language as compared to your own music? FL: Well, yes, and you needed imagination, just like with everything else.


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D+SZ: How is it different to play with a singer than to play instrumental with an orchestra? FL: The problem is that the singer comes in, and “acting” starts, which I grew bored of. A female singer expects you to walk her off, even if she states otherwise. I don’t really miss it. Perhaps the choir, I could imagine that. There are plans for doing a requiem.

FL: I love all of it. It was probably a conscious choice to do what I love.

D+SZ: Is there a desire in you for something completely new? Or are you ever tired of doing what you do? FL: Absolutely. Constantly. This is also a motivator. Which doesn’t mean I should always do something new. One must be aware that if you believe you are bored of something because you know it well D+SZ: It is also a restrictive form. enough, it is probably not true. You probFL: Yes, the problem is you cannot im- ably don’t know it well enough yet. And provise with classical musicians. It does until you do it well, you cannot turn to not do to have an orchestra and go, “Hey, something else. Errors give birth to new, let’s play something.” it’s much like improvisation. In truth, you are constantly making errors. D+SZ: Are you following the changes of music, the novelties? D+SZ: What is it like to have the enFL: There is nothing truly revolutionary. ergy resonate back from the audience? If you look at instruments, there were new FL: It is what you do it for. It’s not priones invented every week in the Baroque marily for money, at least, it’s not with me. period. Today, they invent instruments we’ve already had, only in the electronic D+SZ: So you don’t think of it as work? version. It seems that there is a revival of FL: There were times when I thought of folk instruments. I saw a few new things it as work and it felt terrible. Then I deon the Internet, which are closer to folk cided not to think of it as such. instruments than western culture in the classical sense is. D+SZ: Are you prone to letting yourself go? D+SZ: What kind of culture do you like FL: No, I practice every day at home, I to consume? prepare for the concerts. I go there, play, FL: I read books, listen to music, and old they applaud, I take a bow, and that’s it. black vinyl records. I also look at things on It is an established, old system. But if you You Tube. love it, it is not work, so I don’t work. D+SZ: Do you allow any of these to inD+SZ: How do you picture your fufluence you and your music? ture? Do you plan to go on until the bow FL: It is rather nature that influences me. falls out of your hand? I am not really the introspective type, but it FL: There is no retirement in sight. I don’t seems poems and cloud gazing is closer to even want to retire. n me. Other things do not really strike a chord. D+SZ: Do you go out? FL: My whole life is entertainment. I don’t have to go out. It’s the same with traveling. I am always on the road, why should travel outside of that?

felix lajkó Félix Lajkó was born in Bacˇka Topola (Hungarian: Topolya), a town in the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Voivodina region of present-day Serbia on 17 December 1974 (the same day Beethoven was born a little more than two hundred years before). Despite loving music dearly, no member of his ethnic Hungarian family had chosen music a profession before. Having started out with playing the zither, Lajkó quit the musical high school of Subotica at sophomore grade to go to Budapest with a borrowed violin and become a member of the Dresch Quartet. He has been commuting between Budapest, Hungary and Subotica, Serbia ever since, representing and culturally connecting Hungary and his native Voivodina region.

interviewed by Mihály Rácz Photo: ANdrás hajdú

D+SZ: Is this a conscious decision or just the way it is?


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