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magazine


Kovรกcs Tibor: Fairy Dance


Orosz István: Books

General Editor: Oláh Olívia Editor: Agócs Gergely Picture editor: Kató Gyöngyi Consultant Zsoldos Dávid Art Director and Designer: Németh Csaba Elek General Manager: Bakati Gábor Publisher: Art&Soul Ltd. www.coachmagazine.hu info@coachmagazine.hu

Authors: Agócs Gergely Fazekas Gergely Láposi Terka

CONTENTS

6 The Siege of Babel 12 Nyugat 22 The Sandlot, Then and Now 26 Cafés in Old Budapest 34 Hollywood in Hungarian 44 Matthias Rex 54 Music To the End of Times 62 Small Country, Musical Superpower 74 The Scene of the Parallel Worlds 86 Landscape of Time 94 Kerekes Gábor and Us, Hans Castorps 108 The Polyhistor Bolyais 116 The Gömböc 118 Spallation – the Safe Reaction

Oláh Anna Oláh Olívia Orosz István Sólyom Réka

Names are written in the Hungarian tradition: the surename comes first, then the given name.

Surányi Mihály Tvarosek Tamás

© Art&Soul Ltd. 2009


“Hungarians are the only people in Europe without racial or linguistic relatives in Europe, therefore they are the loneliest on this continent. This extraordinary Hungarianness perhaps explains the peculiar intensity of their existence… Hopeless solitude feeds their creativity, their desire for achieving, and their hysteria… To be Hungarian is a collective neurosis.”

Kudász Gábor Arion Safety Light, Városliget (Olaf Palme Allée) 2006 www.arionkudasz.com

Kösztler Artúr / Arthur Koestler


Sólyom Réka

The

Siege of Babel The Magyars living in the centre of Europe and throughout the world have a unique treasure. The main source of their lives, roots, soul and art, the most treasured heritage of their ancestors — their language. Our language.


Cseh Gabriella: Our Secret


Foreign experts conducted the first research into the mysteries of this language, with little success— Western linguists were unable to unveil the origins of our speech. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that Hungarian happens to be the language which has been compared to other ones the most. More than 200 languages have been matched with ours. It is little wonder then that numerous ideas have been proposed with regards to the origins of our tongue. Some suggest that we are the descendants of a people with an advanced culture living on a sunken continent. Still others say Gog and Magog were the origins of the Hungarians. They even used the vocabulary of the Bible to draw conclusions. Presumably, Hungarian is the most ancient of languages and thus is a predecessor of Hebrew itself. According to other researchers, our people came from the Etruscans and the Scythians; another — widely accepted — opinion ventures that we came from the Sumerians, so Hungarian could have traces of these languages. For a long time, Hungarians — between the 11th and 16th centuries — were referred to as the Huns, so many a theory and description was born about the relation between Hungarians and Huns. It was at the end of the 18th century that the Hungarian language began to be compared to the Finno-Ugric languages. According to the accepted viewpoint of today, Hungarian is classified among the Finno-Ugric languages, even though many linguists question, even challenge, the proposition. Research into the origins of the Hungarian language is still on-going today, with numerous directions taken. Both foreign and national researchers are facing a daunting task, since the logic of our language is inherently different from that of other languages (such as those spoken in Europe). The 19th century polyglot John Bowring’s statement is true: “The Hungarian language goes far back. It developed in a very peculiar manner and its structure reaches back to times when most of the European languages now spoken did not even exist. It is a language which developed steadily and firmly in itself.” It is for this reason that Hungarian is often likened to an island standing in the middle of Europe, surrounded by the Slavic, Germanic and Latin languages, from which it is entirely different. What is certain of the otherwise unknown past from which we have come is that we have brought an utterly valuable heritage with us — our language, which has intrigued and dazzled many.

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In 1817, the Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who spoke 58 languages, among them Hungarian, said: “Do you know which language is equal to Latin and Greek in its structure and rhythmic harmony? It is the Hungarian language. I am familiar with the new Hungarian poets, whose verses are completely mesmerizing.  Let us watch the future, for the poetic genius will have a sudden upswing, which will prove my statement to be true.  It seems as if the Hungarians themselves do not realise what a treasure is hidden in their language.”

Chevalier de Berris, French nobleman: “This language is quite peculiar, perhaps even difficult. Not minding that, I have learned it, because it rings well. Of all the languages I have known, I find this one the most beautiful and the purest, particularly when spoken by a lady. You fall in love with her and her language.”

In 1840,Wilhelm Schott, German scholar writes: “In the Hungarian language there is a fresh, childish, natural view and it cannot but be suspected that there is the possibility of development hidden in it like a bud. It contains many beautiful soft consonants and its vowels are more clearly pronounced than in German.  It can be used for short statements and also for powerful oratory, in short, every type of prose.  It is built on matching vowel sounds, pleasing rhymes, and its richness and resounding tones are well suited for poetry.  This is demonstrated in every branch of poetry.”

In 1840, N. Ebersberg, the world-famous Viennese professor: “The structure of the Hungarian language is such that it appears that linguists could have created it with the purpose of incorporating in it every rule, conciseness, melody and clarity and besides all this it avoided any commonness, difficulty in pronunciation and irregularities.”

In 1927, Jules Romains, French poet: “Because I did not understand the Hungarian language, I tried with all my strength to feel it. I felt that it was full of power; I know no other language that appears so masculine.  It is a passionate masculine language. Your syllables carry some of the hard flexion of muscles; they are at times raised by brusque expirations, as vehement passions billow the chest. This is what I felt, which was confirmed by another experiment when I had some pieces of classical and contemporary poetry recited to me in intimate company.”

Brockhaus Lexikon: “The becoming proportion of vowels and consonants, the gentle hue of the sounds, the even and perfect formation of each syllable, the harmony of fitting vowels make this language magnificent and masculine.”

From a statement by George Bernard Shaw: “After studying the Hungarian language for years, I can confidently conclude that had Hungarian been my mother tongue, it would have been more precious. Simply because through this extraordinary, ancient and powerful language it is possible to precisely describe the tiniest differences and the most secretive tremours of emotions.” hungarian

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The majority of our words (more than half) are of ancient origin. Such a word is tongue, which dates back to 6,000 years ago. Interestingly, this word in Hungarian refers not only to the body part but language, both the Hungarian (in our case in point) as well as others, also. In the frequently used expression “our sweet mother tongue”, sweet is an attribute that can refer to taste and can be connected with the tongue as the body part of both. Sweet also means what is most precious to us—we use it to describe those closest to us (“sweet mother” and “sweet father” as referring to our parents in Hungarian)—and this is the circle in which we place our mother tongue. This is why it seems important to us to talk about our language daily: we correct other people’s mistakes and heated discussions develop over a question or other related to the cultivation of our speech. But what is the Hungarian language like, whose origin is so concealed and which so differs from other languages? We Hungarians often hear it described as “difficult”. Visitors to our country and learners of our language often assert that it is rather difficult to learn. Although it is a widely-known fact that the Hungarian language is not easy, still, what most of its learners have the hardest time getting over is that they may still not be able to communicate after having studied it for two or three months. One of the reasons is the complexity of the grammar of this language. In other European languages, for example, three genders are distinguished in the third person singular, whereas no such thing exists in Hungarian—we simply say, „ő” regardless of the gender, leaving it to the context to infer to whom the pronoun refers. Another such difference is that we do not put nouns in the plural after a numeral greater than one, since the numeral already reveals the plurality. While the phrase two dogs is zwei Hunde in German and deux chiens in French, it is két kutya (“two dog”) in Hungarian, “dog” is not pluralised as the numeral makes it obvious. But let’s look at some further peculiarities of the system of this language that cause many a headache, not only to foreign learners but even to Hungarian pupils. The comparison system of Hungarian is more complicated than that of Indo-European languages. There are no prepositions in our language; therefore, cases are expressed by various suffixes (which is why Hungarian is classified as an “agglutinative” language). Transitive and intransitive conjugations are distinguished in Hungarian. We use three tenses: past, present and future. It is interesting that, although there used to be a narrative past and many complex past tenses, they are no longer used in everyday speech today. Free word order is used in Hungarian syntax, which promises to be a deceiving simplification for those who wish to speak the language—scrambling or changing the word order may carry different emotional or informational contents. Verb modifiers represent another difficulty in our language (which are usually attached before the root of the verb and include, in meaning, down, up, out, in, together and back). Since many of our tenses have disappeared through the history of our language and are unused today, the completeness of an action is also expressed by verb prefixes also. Actions expressed by the present perfect in English (e.g. I’ve bought the car, I’ve painted the house, I’ve read the book) are expressed by the prefix in Hungarian (e g. Megvettem az autót, Kifestettem a házat, Elolvastam a könyvet, etc.). Additionally, most prefixes have still kept the meaning of the direction they refer to (e. g. in, out, down, up) but with a metaphoric meaning (e. g. clear up – a positive mood/event – stands with the prefix expressing upward directedness, as opposed to downcast, where the negative meaning is expressed by the prefix with the downward directed meaning). Creating verbs with prefixes is still a popular trend today. These are, of course, only a few examples of the uniqueness and peculiarity of our language—the Hungarian language has a plethora of further curiosities and surprises in store for those arriving for a visit to Hungary. And should anyone embark on attempting to learn Hungarian, we assert that our language can, in fact, be learned. Transcending the initial difficulties, anyone is able to acquire the Hungarian language and, as expressed by the sayings, “loosen their tongues” or “speak the same language” with us.

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Cseh Gabriella: If I belive in it

“it is easy to become a great mathematician with Hungarian as your mother tongue” It is said that those blessed with a good sense of languages are also talented in maths. The above quote also implies that it might not be a coincidence that Hungary has given so many extraordinary thinkers and scientists to the world. Many reasons may account for it, but one thing is for certain: language and thinking are intrinsically interrelated—thus, the unique structure of our language may have contributed to this success. Perhaps it is owing to its logic, which so profoundly differs from that of other languages that facilitated the development of such a different viewpoint and way of thinking — which, in turn, may be behind the numerous Hungarian discoveries and inventions. As it has been expressed by one of our linguists, Hungarian fits thought as skin fits the body. Teller Ede, father of the hydrogen bomb, explicitly expressed that, had he not come to know the world through one of the greatest Hungarian poet geniuses of the 20th century Ady Endre’s mother tongue, he may have never availed to more than becoming a mere high school teacher.

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From the exhibition entitled “Nyugat—a History of 100 Years” by the Petôfi Museum of Literature

Nyugat a magazine full of innovations, debates and wonderful creators a bustling half a century filled with cafés, literature and art

One hundred years ago, an enthusiastic, young group, sitting around tables in a café, established the magazine with the name Nyugat (“West”), which became the most significant and most enduring publication of 20th century Hungarian literature. To Hungarians, Nyugat is a concept—never has a magazine existed that would have been so defining of its era and a point of departure for many writers and poets: they were discovered here to become emblematic figures of 20th century Hungarian literature. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of its launching, although the first issue is marked January 1, 1908, in reality, the magazine appeared at Christmas of 1907 and was operating until 1941. In the bustling rooms of cafés plans were made about what the name of the launching magazine should be. Finally it was one of the editors, Osvát Ernő, who inspired the idea of Nyugat as the title of choice representing a desire to join the world and literature of the West. “We looked to the West to make our Hungarianness complete”, writes Babits Mihály, one of the defining writer-poet figures of the publication, who later also became the journal’s editor-in-chief. The title suggested openness, from the beginning, not only towards the poets and writers of the west, who were symbolizing literary modernity, but to the related art forms also restlessly in heat in Europe, as well. In the columns of Nyugat, prime space was given to translations and evaluations of contemporary works and to analyses of international music and theater premieres and of exhibitions in Paris and Berlin. Supporting efforts for innovation and with openness to music, the applied arts, film, dance, and photography, the journal strove to fight against outdated didacticism.


At the same time, it was not only bombarded by external attack. Editor Osvát Ernő and Maecenas Hatvany Lajos represented different editing principles, with the adversity between them deteriorating to such an extent that a duel took place between the two men, in which both were physically injured.

It is shocking that a magazine that had such an impact not only on its own era but virtually on its entire century was published in a mere six-eight hundred, at times as few as three hundred copies, and it was only in the very beginning of the 1930’s that it surpassed the magical 2000 copy landmark. Its spiritual-intellectual radiance, however, was all the more significant. The careers of the creators of modern Hungarian literature were launched and brought to completion on the columns of this journal—the young talents that have been engraved in literary history and endured to posterity as classics today. Nevertheless, they were as different in terms of age, background, political affiliation, and artistic disposition, “as they could possibly be in the literature of an era and a nation”. It is no wonder, then, that the thirty-three years of the operation of the magazine were accompanied by external and internal disputes and strife. But perhaps disputes, adversities, opposing views and clashing interests are inevitable when something truly significant is about to emerge. Conservative criticism often blamed the paper for its “eroticism”, its promotion of international literature, and its insolent “novelty”. Even Prime Minister Tisza István contributed to the debates—he wrote anti-Nyugat comments under the pseudonym, Rusticus.

There is no other nation where so many matters of honour were settled in manners of chivalry as in Hungary. The French and the Italians combined, it is said, did not wage as many duels as Hungarians did among each other. Count Tisza István, the aforementioned Prime Minister himself was well-trained in fencing, which skill he often employed to settle (or not) his affairs. To recount one of the numerous occasions: Tisza (the year is 1913) visited the National Casino, where Count Károlyi Mihály, who had taken an opposing political position, did not return his greeting. (Due to the defense forces preceding World War I, there was a strong enmity between the government and the opposition.) “Mihály”, warned Tisza, “I greeted you.” “It is better that we do not know each other,” responded Count Károlyi Mihály irritably. The ensuing duel lasted fifty-five minutes and included a total of thirty-two rounds. Károlyi took hits on his face, lip, shoulder and chest. The doctors tried as they might in vain to proclaim Károlyi’s state unfit to proceed with the duel, the Count insisted on seizing his sword again. He ended up with seventeen injuries, one of which, on his elbow, was quite serious. The parties never reconciled after the skirmish. Based on the book The Hungarian Duel.

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The 25th anniversary of the establishment of Nyugat at the Conservatory

A world where

The defining figures of the 20th century were all connected, one way or another, to Nyugat—their poems, short stories or a central role . excerpts of their novels first appeared on the pages of the magazine. So many outstanding creators can be linked with Nyugat that it would be difficult to list one above the other. Of the thousand-faced character represented by the team of editors creating the magazine, we will attempt to highlight but a few. Ady Endre, the “inherent genius”, who was loved and hated for bursting on the scene of the 20th century and its literature with an explosion, making it impossible to compete. Babits Mihály, the deliberate teacher, the straightforward critic. Outstanding both as a writer and a poet. After Ady’s death, he was chief editor of Nyugat for the longest period (1919-1941); with his death, the magazine ended. There are but a few artists in world literature who were able to create significant works both in lyrical as well as prosaic genres, who cultivated both categories equally well. Kosztolányi Dezső was such an artist. In addition to his poems and novels, his essays, commentaries, and observations about the Hungarian language are all remarkable. Similarly to Babits, he was multi-facetedly erudite, while, at the same time, a playful creator with a disarming sense of humor. literature play ed

Babits Mihály and Ady Endre

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The Nyugat postcard addressed to Ady Endre by Hatvany Lajos.

“With Ady Endre, a new chapter begins in the history of Hungarian literature. Words line up for battle again.” (Hatvany Lajos)

Juhász Gyula

Some of the works by the four the Nyugat generations is available in English, of which we have made the following selection:

His peer of similar sensibilities and main brother-in-arms is Karinthy Frigyes. One of Karinthy’s many stunts is his genuine parodies on the best-known works of his contemporaries. Móricz Zsigmond passed from obscurity to exposure, to the front line of 20th century prose with his short story “Hét krajcár”. Author of many an extraordinary novel and short story, he was editor of Nyugat for a number of years. The expressions that most often appear in Tóth Árpád’s poems are “sad, quiet, shy, timid, tired, ill, worn, mellow, and languid”. It is easy to guess that the most characteristic attribute of his poetry is sorrow. A sickly, gaunt man, who was not only an outstanding lyricist but an excellent translator also, nonetheless. The “Anna Poems” of Juhász Gyula are salient pieces of love poetry; although, ironically, he met the famous actress from Nagyvárad but once in his lifetime, he continued to address her with verse even eighteen years later. They are the most significant of the first generation of Nyugat, although the list is not complete. We have not even mentioned the second generation of the journal, who started their careers, by and large, from the 1920’s. Illyés Gyula, Szabó Lőrinc, József Attila, Németh László, Márai Sándor, Déry Tibor. Outstanding figures of the third generation include, among others, Jékely Zoltán, Radnóti Miklós, Weöres Sándor, Vas István, Zelk Zoltán, Szerb Antal. The fourth, last generation of Nyugat: Pilinszky János, Nemes Nagy Ágnes, Ottlik Géza, Örkény István, Mándy Iván.

Babits Mihály: 21 Poems Babits Mihály: The Nightmare Babits Mihály: The Book of Jonah Kosztolányi Dezsô: Édes Anna Kosztolányi Dezsô: Skylark Kosztolányi Dezsô: Darker Muses. The Poet Nero Móricz Zsigmond: Relations Kaffka Margit : Colours and Years József Attila: Poems Krúdy Gyula: Ladies’ Day Krúdy Gyula: The Adventures of Sindbad Radnóti Miklós: Foamy Sky / Selected Poems Szerb Antal: The Pendragon Legend Szerb Antal: Journey by Moonlight Márai Sándor: Embers Márai Sándor: The Rebels Pilinszky János: Selected Poems Nemes Nagy Ágnes: 51 Poems Mándy Iván: Fabulya’s Wives and Other Stories Mándy Iván: On the Balcony (selected short stories) Ottlik Géza: Buda Örkény István: One Minute Stories Örkény István: The Flower Show / The Toth Family

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The two players, comrades and friends: Kosztolányi Dezsô and Karinthy Frigyes

Kosztolányi Dezső met Karinthy Frigyes life would have been impossible for them without after their years at university, and the two that. ” T he two play ers , comrades and friends : K osz - became inseparable friends—their playfulness and childish mischief made them tolán y i D ezs ô and K arinth y F rig y es a legendary pair. Sometimes even their names were mixed up (although the two looked nothing alike). What they were, indeed, similar in was that they were both very emotional, adolescently playful, free of conventions and, of course, belonged among the greatest literary minds of the time. Kosztolányi Dezső’s wife recalled many teases, taunts and puns between them in her memories. Their jokes were never ill-natured and targeted arrogance, stupidity and greed. Similarly to childish mischief, they often threw coins to the street, only to be amused by the excited search by the passers-by. They played pranks on others, but mostly on each other. During the war, Karinthy sent Kosztolányi “official” notice of being drafted into the army; he even provided it with an official stamp he had somehow acquired from the City Hall. It is true, they were both terrified of being drafted. Kosztolányi even went as far as having his, otherwise healthy, appendix taken out in order to avoid having to join the military. They even made fun of death itself. Often lying on their “deathbeds”, or on the bier, “dead”, waiting for their visitor, only to burst out laughing when he arrived. Most well-known are the stories when they were overtaken by bouts of laughter in the most unfitting of places, even at funerals. They chose to laugh instead of crying; which is exactly what happened at the funeral of their friend, the poet Tóth Árpád, when, during the procession, Karinthy found a piece of pink soap—which was enough to make the two laugh throughout the remainder of the ceremony. During his father’s funeral he burst out laughing, when the minister kept saying his name (Karinthy Frigyes) during the eulogy instead of his father’s (Karinthy József). They took a “ T he y play ed , constantly play ed , for coping with

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Kosztolányi Dezsô and Karinthy Frigyes never ceased to play jokes on each other. “Karinthy’s humour differed from the humour of everyone else in the world in that it illuminated symbolic depths.” (Móricz Zsigmond)

lighthearted approach to and about poetry itself. From time to time they would call a writer and verbosely praise the recently released work of his rival. One of their peers once hired a bevy of children to assail Karinthy, asking for autographs. Karinthy, proud of his popularity, proceeded to sign the papers. The children, playing their role, looked at the signature and announced disappointedly, “Oh, you’re not Kosztolányi? We had thought you were. Then, never mind, we don’t want it, thanks” and promptly returned the signed pieces of paper. Karinthy often sighed, “Lord, help me. But if not, neither do Kosztolányi.” It also happened that such a prank would bring extraordinary luck to the victim, in this case, to Kosztolányi Dezső: “Once Karinthy Frigyes played a joke on me. He sent me a message written on the stationary of a prestigious foreign newspaper, asking me to send them excerpts from a host of my short stories, because they wanted to introduce my works to the wide public of their magazine. In the hope of a fat honorarium, I rolled my sleeves up and proceeded to toil away on the daunting task for a week and a half. The result was a surprise. The magazine ordered five novels immediately, and the amicable connection has ever since been uninterrupted. As has between me and Karinthy, as, after all, I can thank him and his practical joke for the order.”

They were both masters of the Hungarian language and never ceased to amuse each other with competitions of puns. If you read the first letters of each line in Kosztolányi’s poem entitled “Nyár, nyár, nyár”, you will get the sentence “Kiss my ass karinthi.” They often talked to each other in an unintelligible gibberish, bogus language. One of their most favorite games, however, was “Who-donewhat.” Its basic rule was that one of them proposed a sentence, such as “Who has done what to whom with what,” and the other had to respond with the substituting line of verse. Only one answer was possible, and they were able to play the game for hours without making an error! Once Karinthy was cooking his noodle in vain, he was unable to come up with the right answer. He tried to defend himself by saying that the question was bad, only to be told in response that the code was a quote from his own poem. Refusing to succumb to defeat, he chose to proclaim that the fault lay with his poem instead, “You know what, this is a bad poem, that’s why I was unable to come up with the answer.” And, finally, a last, typical story: A rich banker once treated Karinthy for dinner in the most opulent restaurant. After paying the check, the banker pulled out another 20 pengő bill, telling the waiter, “Divide this among the service staff”. Karinthy, reaching into his pocket, pulled out a 20 fillér coin and, handing it to the waiter, instructed, “And multiply this one”.

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“I want to depict all of those who make the remnant of this troubled country of ours great and acknowledged in its culture.”

Rippl-Rónai József working on Babits Mihály’s portrait The completed work: The portrait of Babits Mihály

A leading figure of modern Hungarian painting, Rippl-Rónai József was the greatest representative of the post-impressionist, Art Nouveau efforts in Hungary. His art is characterized by a world of rich colours and decorativeness. He relocated to Paris in 1887, where he worked as an apprentice of Munkácsy Mihály, the most outstanding and renowned representative, acknowledged internationally, of Hungarian fine arts. He was already celebrated in Paris when his show was still met with indifference among the Hungarian public. Nevertheless, he decided to return to his homeland in 1902. He stayed in France during the outbreak of World War I and, being a citizen of one of the enemy states, was confined to custody for seven months. Subsequently to his release, he organized an exhibition of his paintings depicting the war. In addition to creating paintings and drawings, he also designed glass windows, drinking glasses and lamps. During his last period, he focused on portraits created in pastel. This was the technique he applied for, among others, the creation of his self-portraits, as well as those of the famous figures of the Nyugat. In 1908, at the time when the Nyugat was launched, Rippl-Rónai József had already become a nationally known painter. Quite a few years had passed since Ady Endre, writing from Paris, published the erroneous information about him that he had wandered around with Gauguin in his youth. The notions of impressionism, l’art pour l’art, symbolism and Art Nouveau that Nyugat was trying to implement in literature had already been experienced reality and personal artistic feat in Paris for Rippl-Rónai. But official artistic policy did not want to accept innovation in the area of the applied arts either. According to a report by one of the contemporary newspapers, the former Prime Minister Tisza István “had to leave a retrospective exhibition of Rippl-Rónai in haste in order to avoid, in his own words, puking himself.” One of the contributors of the Nyugat addressed an open letter to Tisza: “If you found yourself scandalized by the work of Rippl-Rónai, it is little matter. Because—and I would like to, once more, apologize here—even Tisza István is too small to hammer Rippl-Rónai into an any lesser artist than he really is by even a tad”. The artistic and human harmony between the contributors of the Nyugat and Rippl-Rónai is witnessed by, among others, the portraits the painter made of the artists of the magazine. However, the Nyugat team not only impacted his art: following their example, the painter himself took an attempt at writing, and not even without any success at that. He penned his memoires in 1911, which were published in an issue of Nyugat. His living conversation-like narrative, his perceptive, vigorous style, and his, at times, dialectal Hungarian elevated him into the position of honorary author. Regardless of his disclaimer in his Foreword, whereby he was only “tricked” into this undertaking, and no matter that it was an open secret that the manuscript had been proofed by writers of the highest rank, Kosztolányi Dezső, the great literary personality of the times, wrote about the work: “Rippl-Rónai is more than a mere expert, more than a great painter. The fact that he is also a writer—and an outstanding one among other writers at that—I have known since his memoires and have felt it in my heart always that he is a poet, magical, whimsical, witchy—whose kind is rare and far between on the face of this earth.

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Nyugat and the Bookart

Not only content but form related renewal and modernization can also be associated with Nyugat, as well as with the book publisher appearing as a novelty in parallel with the magazine. Not only in their themes and style but also in their outward appearance did the books brought out by the publisher differ from their run-of-themill contemporary counterparts. The launching of Nyugat as well as the Nyugat Publisher represents an important landmark not only in the history of modern Hungarian literature but also in the renewal of the art of national book publishing. The editors took note of the processes of modernization that had been taking effect for decades throughout Europe, whose English and German representatives presented the demand for books not only of clearly legible printing and typeface but also strove for the unity and harmony of the text and the illustration and the style of the cover and the internal pages. An important part of the program of Nyugat consisted in effectuating “the highest of aesthetic aspects�; therefore, the artists belonging to the circle of friends of the magazine, using pioneering palettes in their tools of expression, created colourful covers for the published volumes. This is the time when hardcover, leather-bound, gilded, and oftentimes sizable and expensive artwork was replaced by the soft-cover, easily held, affordable but sophisticated execution of bookbinding aimed to facilitate everyday reading.

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Mann Dániel

Based on the exhibition at the Petôfi Literary Museum entitled

The Sandlot ”Long Live the Sandlot”

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“The Sandlot…You who do not live wedged among the tall buildings, you do not even know what an empty lot means to a child in Pest. This is his Plains, his desert, his flatland. It represents vastness and freedom to him. A piece of land defined on one side by shabby plywood, and whose other sides are confined among the looming firewalls of buildings towering to the sky. A tall, four-storey building looms over the Paul Street sandlot now too, full of tenants, perhaps none of whom knows that this bit of land once meant youth itself to a handful of poor children from Pest.”


Molnár Ferenc

The Paul Street Boys turned 100 years old last year. Molnár Ferenc, the writer, was twenty-six years old when, sitting on the gallery of the New York Café, began to record his experiences from childhood and school years at the request of his teachers and publish them in instalments, as a serial novel. Among the characters we find the writer himself, his friends, kids from the neighbourhood and classmates. Franklin Publishers brought out the novel in 1907 in two forms: an illustrated version with captions for children, and one without illustrations and captions for grown-ups. The story addresses every generation, expressing eternal human values. Molnár Ferenc made his first step to world fame in 1907. In addition to “The Paul Street Boys”, his drama “The Devil” also met with great success. From 1908 onwards, his theatrical plays were staged in a number of towns (apart from Vienna and Berlin also in Italy and the United States). He achieved his greatest success with “Liliom”. After its opening night in Budapest in 1909, the 1912 performance followed in Vienna. In 1934, Fritz Lang filmed the drama, and it also served as the basis for the Broadway musical Carousel (Körhinta). His critics, too, readily admit that Molnár was a virtuoso of the stage. ”He was one of those who redeemed the stage from the romantic fuss and paraphernalia of the opera … incorporating the spectator into the performance. He wrote irresistible roles and arranged irresistible situations.”

From the threat of National Socialism, he fled to Switzerland in 1937 and to New York in 1939. In America, defying his serious depression, he wrote screenplays and theatre plays. “House of Wax” was presented on the Broadway in 1949. Molnár died in New York. “The Paul Street Boys” has been published in 37 countries, from South America to Japan. In some countries, it is still featured on the list of required or recommended readings of schools. The most exciting of all is the history of the publication of the Italian version: more than 30 translators were working on it, there have been several editions, and it would be justified to say that each Italian city has its own “The Paul Street Boys”. The Empress of Japan mentioned it as one of her favourite readings as a child, and when visiting Hungary, about Hungarians she said to the media: everyone here is a Nemecsek Ernő or a Boka János. The work has not only become well-known as a book: over its centenary career, it was adapted as a silent film, a “talkie” film, as well as a film series. The famous American director Frank Borzage’s film entitled “No Greater Glory” premiered in 1934. But the greatest success was Fábri Zoltán’s film version in 1968, featuring, in addition to the crème de la crème of Hungarian actors, a number of English characters also. This was the first Hungarian-American co-production, also nominated for Oscar in the category of “Best Foreign Film.” “It was truly an amazing success. The memory of one master shoemaker by the name Józsika József survived, who happened to be the greatest pseudo-Nemecsek. He presented his own story so credibly that the 8th district municipality gave him an apartment and wrote it in his name. That the decision was contested, and the apartment was taken away. The trial was such a huge event at the courthouse that tickets were sold for the hearings. Those who recall the story said everyone was downcast to hear it when it turned out that it was not the real Nemecsek sitting there. They would have much preferred to hear that the truth of the story was revealed.”

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T he P aul S treet B o y s • film 1 9 6 8

A Pál utcai fiúk (The Paul Street Boys), 1968 Director: Fábri Zoltán Director of Photography: Illés György Photographer: Domonkos Sándor

“The Paul Street Boys” came to suspected something of the laws of adult life. …It was never solely about ball and field. They say Nemecsek contracted pneumonia for his home- land. What a sweet, enchanting sentence. There are no grandiose, theatrical sentences in the novel. Freedom, solidarity and betrayal, loyalty, unforgiveness and forgiveness. Enormous concepts and emotions are discussed here. We often say, “Oh those grand emotions, they make for grand literature.” Could there be a more risky undertaking in literature than creating a scene with the death of a child? We could be drowning in tears. But we aren’t. We are daunted. Molnár depicts everything through the eyes of the children. Even death. Children cannot comprehend. They file out to the courtyard in Fábri Zoltán’s film, which is a favorite of mine even today, and imitate the doctor. They limp around. And are happy for the sunshine”. (Excerpt from an interview with Komáromi Gabriella The Paul Street Boys research scholar).

Compulsory readings are not normally children’s favourites. The few exceptions, however, include “The Paul Street Boys”. Why? As for the reasons, we could only come up with plain banalities. But if we mention the Sandlot, the Red-shirts, Boka or Nemecsek Ernő, every Hungarian would immediately reply: Oh, yes … and recall this classic story of warfare, treason, heroism and self-sacrifice. Just like we are doing now. Children play on the Sandlot of Paul Street every afternoon, until it turns out that the rival gang hanging out in the botanical garden, of which Ács Feri is the leader, are plotting a siege and have determined to occupy the playground. The boys, preparing for the enemy’s attack, elect Boka as leader. All the boys are given a rank, only the skinny, blond boy, Nemecsek Ernő, remains a private. Geréb, who was also aspiring for the leader’s position, takes revenge by joining up with the gang in the botanical garden. When Nemecsek Ernő falls under suspicion of betrayal, to prove his faithfulness, he recovers the Sandlot’s flag that was stolen by the enemy. However, in the course of carrying out his brave deeds, he cannot avoid bathing in the ice-cold water of the pond in the botanical garden and contracts pneumonia. On the day of the battle, Nemecsek, lying in bed with a fever, abandons his sick-bed to take part in the fight. In the end, it is him who subdues Ács Feri, the enemy’s feared leader. At Nemecsek’s death-bed, members of both gangs salute, but the victory is all in vain, as the Sandlot eventually becomes taken away from the children.

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hancements to Europe’s largest city rehabilitation program. A café has been opened in memory of Molnár Ferenc in one of the buildings, while the one adjacent to it, not being of cultural heritage, has been demolished, and such a sandlot has been created in its place which, according to the plans, will be kept permanently. So much had been completed last fall. In order to ensure that, it could be used by children as a playground, it had to be refined to conform to today’s regulations—a wooden castle has been built of the famous log piles (which has become Hungary’s largest unique wooden toy), whereas the shack has been transformed into a functional guard post – in order to keep the still quite rascally children of the neighbourhood at bay. In a surprising gesture, the entire text of the novel has been printed on the walls which were erected from the remains of the demolished buildings of the neighbourhood; the picket fence has been created from the wooden beams of the former buildings. “He rushed, then ran towards the gate. He fled from here, from this unfaithful piece of land, which they had defended at the cost of so much suffering, so much heroism, and which now was abandoning them so traitorously for the call of bearing a huge tenement building on its back for ever. “He once more looked back from the gate, as one who was leaving his home for ever. And in that vast pain that gripped his heart at this thought, only a drop, a tiny drop of comfort was mingled. If poor Nemecsek didn’t live long enough to see the delegation of the Puddy Society deliver the gang’s apology, he didn’t have to see his home, the one he died for, taken away, either.”

The Sandlot, there in that world depicted a hundred years ago, was lost for the children forever. But the preservation and impartation of the values formulated at that time were set forth as the objectives of the company which, a hundred years later, recreated the world of the Sandlot and everything it meant in its time. The purpose of the seven young private investors—among them the owners of the legendary WestBalkan—was the creation of such a “Sandlot District” that would revoke the atmosphere of Józsefváros of the golden days, while at the same time, would play an increasing role in the life of Budapest as a cultural and touristic center. With the creation of the Corvin Promenade, a modern inner city is born out of the old, infamous 8th district, with a new face. The area extended in 2-8 Tömő Street situated in the middle of the new district is ensconced among buildings of cultural heritage, whose atmosphere and function are worthy en-

The first catering unit will open permanently, after this year’s test operation, in the third building, housing a youth hostel and a night club. The area is planned to be visited on field trips by elementary schools teaching their pupils about the novel, and the students will have to battle for the Sandlot, not with sand-bombs, which would violate EU regulations, but with the laser weapons provided for the purpose. Finally, if all goes well, a concert hall extending to the entire size of the property is to be build under the fourth building, which is also scheduled to be dismantled. The lot will be covered with grass, bushes and trees—whose leaves¸ come fall, may be knocked off just a few days early by the drum base resounding from underneath. “And the next day, when the whole class sat in their still, solemn silence, Mr. Rácz ascended to his platform slowly and ritually to deliver his eulogy of Nemecsek Ernô, and to call the class to gather the next day, wearing black, or at least some sort of dark attire, in Rákos Street, Boka János was staring blankly at the desk in front of him, and, for the first time, it began to dawn on his childish heart what life, whose sometimes striving, sometimes sorrowful, sometimes happy servants we all are, really meant.”

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Home to Writers, Artists and Filmmakers:

Cafés in Old Budapest

Artists, scientists, filmmakers, celebrities – all are people who have become key personalities of one or another cultural area of twentieth century Hungary. As we are reading the stories, we come to realize that there is one thing linking each of them; time and again we come across the same names: the names of cafés. Aside from the acts of everyday life like flirting, love, politics and business deals, present in these cafés was also Life itself, with all the stakes it carries, in all its immense depth and utter lightness At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Budapest was often dubbed the city of cafés, as there were more than 550 cafés operating in the capital.


The famous New York CafĂŠ today


The terrace of the Japanese Café From the collection of the Petôfi Museum of Literature

Some liken them to the agora in Athens, others to churches. The only sure thing is that for generations of artists, scholars and scientists, cafés had become New York, the decisive experience of their lives, a source of inspiration as well as the place Japán, for creation.

Centrál, Abbázia, Hadik,

are just a few of the best-known ones from the early twentieth century. In them, it was possible to work, make business deals, discuss politics, chat, meet ordinary as well as extraordinary people, eat, listen to music, and perhaps the most important: it was possible to play. Obviously, the popularity of cafés also had some practical reasons. Unlike the confined flats that were hard and costly to heat, the spacious, warm and The New York Café around the turn of the century

lavishly lit cafés attracted people. All in one place! — could have been the commercial slogan of the cafés as the services they offered were rather wide-ranging. Budapest cafés were competing as to which of them had the widest variety of newspapers. The record at the beginning of the century was held by ”the most beautiful café in the world”, the New York, whose supply of newspapers included, apart from Spanish and Czech papers, also the most expensive fashion magazines from London and Paris, as well as around four hundred provincial newspapers. There also were cafés that operated a lending library. Some patrons had their letters sent to the address of the café, they could have their writings typewritten (there was an ”everyone’s typist” service), customers could buy theatre and cinema tickets, envelopes and postage stamps, and flowers and books were also on sale.

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Life, of course, must be loved and enjoyed Games must be played

The balconies of the New York Café today

A barber’s shop and a pawn shop also operated in the New York for a while. At that time it was possible for somebody to sit down in a café without a penny in their pocket. They could read the papers, drink a few glasses of water, have good conversations with others, and there was nobody to scorn them off the place. Writer and poet Kosztolányi Dezső even drew up a ”schedule” of who were attending the cafés at a given time of the day: ”There is time for office clerks (seven to eight in the morning), lawyers’ time (eight to nine thirty in the morning), doctors’ time ( nine thirty to ten thirty), lower middle class-time (twelve thirty to three in the afternoon), familytime (four to seven in the afternoon), siesta-time (seven thirty to eleven), nightlifers’ time (eleven at night to two o’clock in the morning), artists’ time (two to three thirty in the morning) and salesmen’s time (at all times).” And, oh, yes, the cafés were open day and night, as it could be deduced from the above schedule.

Cafés were given the right, as early as the nineteenth century, to set up billiard-tables in their shops, in fact there was even a regulation that made it compulsory for them. The name “coffee house” could be used exclusively by establishments equipped with billiard tables. The first chess competition was also held in a café. One of the peculiarities in the history of cafés as well as that of chess is the correspondence match played from May 1843 to March 1845 against the chess-players of the Café de la Regence of Paris, the world’s most renowned chess café. The Budapest players won so triumphantly that the match got entered into the 500 Master Games of Chess, published in London, 1952. Chess owes a lot to the composer Erkel Ferenc, also a coffee house patron and a prominent chess player, who filled the post of the Chairman of Pesti Sakk-Kör (Pest Chess Club). All the cafés of Pest had one or more gaming rooms. In addition to chess and billiard, various card games, tombola, dicing, and dominoes were also popular. And, of course, the cafés were also the ideal scene of endless battles of intellectual games. At the regular table reserved for Karinthy Frigyes, who was game for all games and contests, the most popular were Twenty Questions and Collect Words. Cut-throat competitions developed in palindrome, which is the collection of words and sentences that also make sense from the end backwards, and in verse games. They frequently played the sonnet game, of which the core is that one player gave the fourteen rhymes in advance, and the others had to add the rest of the lines, that is, write the sonnet itself. Every day, or at least once a week, there was music in some of the cafés. Aside from the famous Hungarian Gypsy musicians, until the first World War there also played the Serb tambourine orchestras, and the women orchestras, whose reputation was dubious though, but which were rather popular with the male audiences. The reason why the Gypsy orchestras gained overwhelming victory over any rivals was that, in addition to the folk songs and the popular melodies, they could already play the brand-new songs from the newest operas and operettas on the day of their opening nights at the theatre, while they also played marches, waltzes, polkas, and, from the turn of the twentieth century, jazz, too. In a word, they played all kinds of music available at the time. A separate genre was represented by the café pianists, who were also all-round musicians. Many young talents began their careers in this manner, like, for example, the renowned film music composer Brodszky Miklós (author of several Oscar-nominated movie soundtracks) did in the bar of the New York.

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T he greater part of café guests used the café as their workplace, a large number of short stories, poems, novels and newspaper atricles were written there.

The idea of Nyugat, the decisive journal of the twentieth century also conceived in a café, and subsequently, the café was the scene where young talents were discovered, where fellow writers kept contact with one another and where they had access to domestic and foreign information. In most places the café supplied paper, pen and ink, and, in general, everything had a single purpose: that creation was not hindered in any way. The favourite café of painters and sculptors had been Abbázia until the owner made them angry of himself. The patrons of the café were in the habit of cutting the illustrations out of the expensive art magazines. The café’s owner got angry, he had a rubber-stamp made and stamped this on every endangered magazine page: ”I stole this picture from the Abbázia Café”. The answer was not delayed for long. A couple of days later, the artists wrote on the wall of the five-storey café building with white paint, and large letters: ”I stole this house from the high prices of the café”, then moved their headquarters to the Japán Café, just one block away. There they were kept in higher esteem, as the owner was a great supporter of arts. He was happy when the painters, when short of cash, used their paintings to pay. The Japán had been named after its decorative wall tiles. Its famous table societies consisted of journalists and poets, artists and the representatives of the Pest artist circles. Some of the best-known painters of the era like Szinyei-Merse Pál, Lechner Ödön, Ferenczy Károly and Rippl-Rónai József also appeared here regularly. Thanks to the owner’s idea it was possible to order a so-called ”corrective coffee”, which meant that the poorer customers were entitled to a portion of ”corrective sugar” to their coffee, ”corrective poppy” to their pasta, and all that free of charge. In the New York one could order the so-called writer’s platter, which consisted of some cold cuts and cheese, and the writers consumed it at a very beneficial price. Just like the customers, the cafés’ owners and headwaiters were also legendary figures. Not only did they supply stationery and loans to their guests, but they often got them jobs as well. Of course, the question may be asked, what was their business in welcoming the often insolvent artists? A wise old café owner said the explanation was simple: where artists attend, there also attend fine girls, and where fine girls attend, there attend rich men, too. But it was more than a marketing ploy, the headwaiters of the New York often made life-long loans, got jobs for many hungry writers, their love for art was superior to all financial gains. The Japán was also frequented by Rejtő Jenő, who can be truly awarded the title of ”the writer with the best humour”. His publisher was seated in the building opposite the café, where his manuscript was paid for by the line. In the café Rejtő had a cup of black coffee, then tore off three or four lines from the already prepared text, which also included the tip. The headwaiter then went over to the publisher and cashed the cheque.

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From the

New York Café to world fame The New York has been referred to as the most beautiful café of Budapest, or, as some insist, of the world, several poems and short stories were written about it, even its keys were thrown into the Danube, so that it could never be shut down. But then it was stopped and reopened again. It is operating even today and it is still beautiful. One contemporary writer said the most interesting guest he saw in the New York was a seal. ”There was some entertainer in the Royal Orfeum, making shows with seals. One day, after dinner, he brought one of his seals with him to the café. The seal was riding on a taxi right to the entrance, from there it crawled up, across some chairs, on top of a table, and there it lay resting. Apart from seals, famous artists and writers, however, the New York was also frequented by filmmakers and scientists whose names later became well-known the whole world over. Kertész Mihály, alias Michael Curtiz, the world-famous director of Casablanca, secretly placed the New York Café in his main work, Rick’s Café in Casablanca shows several parallels with its counterpart in Pest. ”Sometimes I have the impression, writes the already famous Michael Curtiz from Los Angeles, that I’m not living among mansions in America, I just keep staring at the hands of the clock in the New York Café on a misty morning.” Korda Sándor, today known as Sir Alexander Korda, then an unknown young man from the countryside, only dared to admire the stately building of the New York Café from outside. Four years later it was there that he edited the film magazine Pesti Mozi and his career as a film director also started there. One fine morning, gathering his courage, he stepped up to the number one actor of the National Theatre, who also happened to be in the café, introduced himself, then asked him to undertake the chief role in a war movie just in the making, which he was directing. He said they had enough money, cameras and everything that was necessary for the shooting. His entré was so successful that the actor immediately said yes and the following day he turned up at the shooting site, on a railway station, where, by mere accident, hussars were marching, as it had been promised. Korda asked his fresh star to join the hussars, waved to the cameraman, and so Sir Alexander Korda’s first film, starring a leading actor of Hungary was started, with hundreds of unpaid stuntsmen in the background. Many of the business whizzes of the Hollywood film industry like Adolf Zukor or Friedmann Vilmos, alias William Fox, also set out from the New York in Budapest. And from the actors having attained world fame, Lugosi Béla, who had earned himself an entry in the world history of film in the role of the Count Dracula, also started here. Wigner Jenő (Eugen Wigner), Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the leading mathematician of the twentieth century and ”the father of computer science”, Neumann János (John von Neumann) were both café fans. Neumann missed cafés so much that he was planning to open one in America. He insisted on spreading them among the Americans. ”But Johnny, his American colleagues warned, those people in Princeton wouldn’t even know what to do in a café.” ”That’s no problem, he replied, we’ll hire a couple of European colleagues to sit about on the terrace all afternoon, so that the locals can see how to do it.”

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Szinyei-Merse Pál Lechner Ödön Ferenczy Károly Rippl-Rónai József Rejtô Jenô Kertész Mihály (Michael Curtiz) Korda Sándor (Sir Alexander Korda) Wigner Jenô (Eugen Wigner) Neumann János (John von Neumann) Czukor Adolf (Adolf Zukor) Friedman Vilmos (William Fox) Lugosi Béla Babits Mihály Karinthy Frigyes Kosztolányi Dezsô


T he Centrál Café:

a magazine and a marriage being born

From 1905 the management at the Centrál Café was taken over by Mészáros Győző, who put great emphasis on intellectual life at the café. It was at the well-known Round Table of the Centrál that Kiss József was editing the newspaper A Hét, the magazine considered to be one of the predecessors of Nyugat. ”What a strange newspaper. It is read in cafés , and it is written in cafés. Is it perhaps written in cafés because it is read in cafés? Or is it read in cafés because it is written there? I could never clarify this problem. Nearly eight years ago the Centrál Café in the downtown was the headquarters of A Hét. Every Friday and Saturday dubious-looking gentlemen, who would never turn up there on weekdays, occupied different corners of the café. They were sitting around over a glass of beer for long hours, writing line below line on their uniformly cut sheets of paper. They were men from A Hét. The swarming, the noise, the sentences randomly spoken and caught in the air or the thick cigarette smoke did not seem to annoy them, it looked as if it had been their natural habitat.” Later, this was the place where the literary journal Nyugat was founded, and the place to which it returned from the New York Café in 1920. One of the countless café anecdotes tells the story about Babits Mihály, ”the woman-hater”(one of the most outstanding prominents of Nyugat, later its editor for years) proposing to Török Sophie, his future wife. ”This funny proposal took place in the Centrál Café, under close scrutiny of the Nyugat table. (…) Aranka (wife of the writer Karinthy Frigyes), the lovely, beautiful and eccentric woman looked at me lovingly, as if accepting me in the secret society of writers’ wives, then left us alone and rushed on with the happy excitement that she knew in person the fiancée of Babits, the woman-hater.”

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Újhold, the newspaper of the youngest Nyugat generation was also edited in the Centrál, this was where young writers had their gatherings and drank their coffee made from chicory but seasoned with genuine milk, following World War II. Café owner Mészáros Győző writes about changes in coffeedrinking habits and new types of cafés established after foreign models, about their new image and atmosphere, as early as 1935: ”In the past cafés used to be home, resting place and asylum to many. Since those days they have increasingly become business, in the cold, modern meaning of the word. The old-fashioned, patriarchal forms of life common in the old times are gone. The friendly and informal relationship between the coffee house proprietor and his apprentice has turned into the controversial relation between employer and employee, a guest has become a business partner, just as the world has gone through considerable changes, and the warm and bright colours of the old cafe have turned grey. Today’s café is developing in new directions, diverting from its centuries-old paths. The number of old-style cafés is diminishing, being replaced by the successors of old French Café-Danse, Café-Chantant, Café-Spectacle and Café-Restaurant, Anglo-American Café-bar, Italian Bottega del Café and German Kaffee-Konditorei, all in renewed forms, adapted to today’s conditions. Whether the new path is the right path, and how this development will eventually work out, would be too early to say as yet, the whole world being in the state of transition.” How coffee-drinking habits and the clientele and atmosphere of cafés continued to change after 1935 – would be another story to tell, what’s for sure is that newspapers determining the spirit of an era are no longer edited at their tables, the key role they used to play in intellectual life is long gone. The two most famous ones, the New York and the Centrál have been reopened after long years out of operation, thus giving us a chance to take our share in that bygone but unforgettable world of cafés.

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“It’s not enough to be Hungarian.” “But it may help.” Czukor Adolf (Adolph Zukor)

Hollywood in Hungarian

Hungarians who played an important role in establishing Hollywood, such as Adolph Zukor, William Fox and Joe Pasternak, emigrated to the United States at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The next big wave of emigration began in the early 1920s, when several hundred left Hungary either directly for Hollywood or via Vienna, Berlin, Paris or London. The following generation of noted artists reached America after the 1956 revolution. The founders of Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox film studios, the director of Casablanca, the cinematographer of Easy Rider, the script writer of Basic Instinct and the producer of the Rambo and the Terminator series … they are all Hungarians, the majority of whom were born in Hungary.


Kertész Mihály (alias Michael Curtiz), the famous director of the movie “Casablanca” was born in Hungary where he also spent his first 31 years

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The First Generation

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Adolph Zukor: (born Czukor Adolf). The former president of the internation-

ally famous film studios Paramount Pictures Corporation, was born in the village of Ricse, Hungary. Without speaking the language and with 25 dollars sewn in his coat sleeve, he was 15 when he emigrated to America in the hope of a promising new life. He did all sorts of jobs. He worked in the fur trade, in furrier’s shops, then using the experience he had gained opened his own fur workshop. He first saw a film at the age of 20 and immediately recognised the good business opportunities in cinema. In 1912 he founded the Famous Players studio, the predecessor of Paramount Pictures. Four years later Zukor merged his company with that of film producer Jesse L. Lasky to establish America’s most important film studio of the time. The Famous Players-Lasky Corporation was founded and following many name changes became Paramount Pictures in 1935. The company produced several thousand movies and television series. According to legend, there was a notice warning job seekers in Zukor’s office: “It’s not enough to be Hungarian.” Then he would add verbally: “But it may help.” In 1948 Zukor was awarded the Oscar prize for Lifetime Achievement.

William Fox: (born Friedmann Vilmos) first saw the light of day in 1879 in the village of Tolcsva, Hungary. He was nine months old when his family emigrated to the US. He began working as a launderette apprentice and later as a dyer in New York. In 1908 he opened a moving picture theatre on Broadway. At the beginning of the 1910s he was already living in Hollywood as a producer and cinema owner. In 1915 he founded Fox Film Company, which took the lead in the American film industry during the First World War. The prominent 20th Century evolved from Fox Corporation and Twentieth Century Pictures, the two companies merging in 1933. In 1928 Fox switched over entirely to producing sound films, resulting in enormous success and profit. However, the great world economic crisis destroyed the whole Fox empire at the beginning of the 1930s. William Fox went completely bankrupt, losing even his company. He died a poor man. Nevertheless, the Fox Company is still one of the world’s most important film studios.

Joe Pasternak was born Paszternák Jakab in Szilágysomlyó, Hungary. He emigrated to the US at the age of 19 and began as an assistant with Universal. Then he was commissioned to make sound films in German for Universal in Berlin. From 1928 he was the production manager of Deutschen Universal. Pasternak returned to the United States in 1936. He went over to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the middle of the 1940s, producing films for broad cinema audiences, making a conscious effort to produce entertaining films of quality. He was nominated for Oscars as a producer three times. His most significant films include “Three Smart Girls”, “One Hundred Men and a Girl”, “Anchors Aweigh”, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”, “Ten Thousand Bedrooms”, “The Opposite Sex”, “Love Me or Leave Me”, “The Merry Widow” and “The Great Caruso”.

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Joe Pasternak in the middle


Sir Alexander Korda at a shooting

The Second Generation

Sir Alexander Korda (originally Kellner then Korda Sándor). The noted film

director and producer Korda was born in Túrkeve, Hungary, in 1893. He became the number one name in Britain’s film industry, although he never really learnt English well. He started out as a film critic and was one of the pioneers of Hungarian cinema journalism. He was the top film producer in Hungary for five years, then from 1919 he worked in Austria and later he founded his own film production company in Berlin. He alternated working in England and Hollywood. In 1932 Korda and his brothers, the director Zoltán, and the painter and production designer Vince, founded London Film Studios. “The Private life of Henry VIII” brought him world fame as a director and at the same time was the first internationally successful film for Great Britain. It was a purely Hungarian production (Korda Sándor was the director and producer, Korda Vince the set designer and Bíró Lajos wrote the script). Charles Laughton, who played the king, was awarded an Oscar. “That Hamilton Woman” with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in the leading roles also enjoyed sweeping success in the US. The film is about Admiral Nelson and indirectly pointed to the danger Hitler presented, functioning as a propaganda film to call the attention of Americans to the necessity of entering the war. The highly acclaimed film even reached the Soviet Union, Churchill himself taking it to Moscow. Korda Sándor was knighted, also with Churchill’s advocacy. Many films testify to Korda’s greatness as a producer. Without the list being complete, they include “The Ghost Goes West”, “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, “The Thief of Baghdad” and “The Jungle Book”, adapted from Kipling’s story and directed by Korda Zoltán. The film, with music composed by Rózsa Miklós, was nominated for four Oscars. In recognition of his outstanding work for the British film industry, in 1992 the British Film Academy established an award for the best British film, naming it the Alexander Korda Award. The huge “Etyekwood” film studio being built in Etyek near Budapest bears the name of Korda Sándor.

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Crawford and Cukor

George Cukor was born Cukor György in 1899 to a family of Hungarian immigrants in New York. He rose from assistant director to become one of the great directors of Broadway, from where the film industry, looking for new talent, enticed him. In the 1930s he directed such box office hits as A Bill of Divorcement with Katherine Hepburn, Dinner at Eight and Little Women (he was first nominated for an Oscar prize for the latter). He also directed the film adaptations of David Copperfield, Romeo and Juliet and Camille, in which Greta Garbo played the title-role. By the end of the 1930s he was among the best paid directors. This was when he made “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman, a film nominated for seven Oscars. In 1954 Cukor directed his first colour film, the musical “A Star is Born” with Judy Garland. However, it was “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn in the leading role which brought him really big success. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, of which it received eight, including George Cukor winning the ‘golden trophy’ he had long deserved.

George Cukor was awarded the “Oscar” for “My Fair Lady”

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“Casablanca” Director: Michael Curtiz

Michael Curtiz

(Kertész Mihály) the director was born in Budapest in 1886. He graduated from the Academy of Drama and played a few minor roles. It was the time when the early films of the Lumière brothers were beginning to be shown and Kertész immediately saw the future potential in cinema. His first film, “Ma és Holnap” (Today and Tomorrow) was made by 1912 and it was also the first full-length Hungarian feature film. The following year he went on a study tour to Denmark, returning to Hungary in 1914. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 he moved to Austria, leaving Hungary for good at the age of 31. “Sodom and Gomorrah”, the most famous of his films from the period, was made in Austria and Germany. Kertész emigrated to the US in 1926, changed his name to Michael Curtiz and began to make box office hits – action-packed Westerns, biographical, historical, adventure and melodramatic films, as well as literary adaptations – “Adventures of Robin Hood”, “Dodge City”, “Captain Blood”, “We’re No Angels”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Mildred Pierce”. The most famous of them all, “Casablanca” with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in the leading roles, was nominated for eight Oscars of which it was awarded three, including the prizes for Best Film and Best Director.

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Rózsa Miklós composer

Rózsa Miklós the composer was born in Budapest in 1907. His music is mainly known from the cinema, but he also composed for other genres. Terry Teachout, music critic of Time magazine, included his Violin Concerto Op. 24 among the 50 most important pieces of the 20th century. In addition to continuous commissions from Hollywood, Rózsa regularly gave classical concerts. He was a rather special figure in the world of cinema, remaining faithful to being a Hungarian all along. He was widely “acknowledged” for being unable to adjust to the American way of life, seeing through the hot Californian summers in dark suits. Although he stipulated very special conditions for his film music work, no producer thought of looking for someone else. Between 1937 and 1981 he composed the music for a total of 90 films. He openly despised several of his colleagues who lacked experience in music. Rózsa composed his first film music for “Knight Without Armor”, featuring Marlene Dietrich in 1937. He soon became the most noted film music composer, in Hollywood and worldwide. His work was awarded three Oscar prizes for the soundtracks of “Spellbound”, “A Double Life” and “Ben Hur”. In addition, he composed music for “Quo Vadis”, “El Cid”, “Julius Caesar”, “The Jungle Book”, “That Hamilton Woman”, “The Thief of Baghdad” and several other outstanding films.

Lugosi Béla the most memorable Dracula in cinema history, was born Blaskó Béla in 1882 in the Transylvanian village of Lugos. He was involved in the events of the 1919 Soviet Republic and subsequently had to leave Hungary, moving to the United States in 1921 by way of Vienna and Berlin. Although he was amnestied in 1926, he never returned to his homeland. Lugosi got the title role in “Dracula” in 1930. The film, directed by Tod Browning, was the most noted and successful adaptation of the Dracula story, and also the most frightening movie of its day. This was followed by roles in several thrillers, including the figure of Frankenstein. Someone allegedly asked at his funeral: “Perhaps we should pierce his heart with a stake, just to play safe.”

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Easy Rider, the movie that brought world fame to Kovács László, cameraman

Kovács László cinematographer. In 1956 Kovács and his cameraman student friend and later colleague, Zsigmond Vilmos, filmed the events of the revolution with a camera hidden in a shopping bag. After the uprising they left Hungary with nearly ten thousand metres of film containing their shots of the demonstrations and armed clashes. Having fled to Austria, they turned the material into a film, which was broadcast by CBS in 1961. Kovács first worked in Austria, then with Zsigmond Vilmos left for the United States in 1957. His career there began with difficulties. He developed films, made portraits and ID photos, and worked in insurance. He became a cinematographer in 1967. He was the director of photography for “Easy Rider”, which made his name famous worldwide. Following this, Kovács was the cameraman for several box office hits, including “New York, New York”, “F.I.S.T.”, “Ghostbusters”, “Crackers”, “Mask”, “Ruby Cairo”, “Miss Congeniality” and “Two Weeks Notice”.

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The witches of Eastwick: Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer Director of Photography: Zsigmond Vilmos

Zsigmond Vilmos

was born in the town of Szeged and rose to become an Oscar-winning cameraman and director. “The Hired Hand”, directed by Peter Fonda, was his first serious film, which he made at the age of 41. His second joint film with Steven Spielberg, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, won him an Oscar. Besides this, his most significant cinematographic work includes “The Witches of Eastwick”, “Sliver”, “Maverick”, “Assassins”, “The Crossing Guard”, “Intersection”, “Melinda and Melinda”, “Jersey Girl”, and “The Black Dahlia”, for which he was Oscar nominee in 2007.

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The Basic Instict

Joe Eszterhas star script writer, was Andrew G. Vajna born Eszterhás József Antal in the village of Csákánydoroszló, Hungary. His family left Hungary during the Second World War when he was still a few months old and later settled in Cleveland. The script of F.I.S.T. with Sylvester Stallone in the leading role made him widely recognised. Then he wrote “Flashdance” and “Music Box”, which were followed by his most important work to date, “Basic Instinct” starring Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas (he received a record fee for the script). Other significant works of Joe Eszterhas include “Nowhere to Run”, “Sliver”, “Showgirls” and “Jagged Edge”.

emigrated to the US with his parents in 1956. His noted films as a producer include “Rambo (I-III)”, “Total Recall”, “Air America”, “Renaissance Man”, “Terminator (I-III)”, “Die Hard With a Vengeance”, “The Scarlet Letter”, “Nixon”, “Evita”, “Basic Instinct” (I-II) and “I Spy”. Vajna is the producer of several Hungarian films and often visits Hungary.

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rex Tvarosek Tamás

Matthias Renaissance Year 2008

W hy the Year of Renaissance? Because 550 years ago, on 24 January 1458, Hunyadi Mátyás, was elected king of Hungary on the ice of the River Danube. He would occupy the Hungarian throne for 32 years until 1490. The 15-year-old monarch strove to establish a strong royal power, reformed the treasury, developed the organisation of the state and recruited a mercenary army (the famous Black Army) from enormously high taxes. With respect to foreign policy, he divided his attention between the Ottoman threat and his endeavours in western Europe. The medieval Hungarian state experienced its golden age and became a dominant European power during his reign. A public survey has revealed that the majority of Hungary’s citizens would entrust the country to him even today.


matthias

T huróczi János:

Chronica Hungarorum 1488, T heobald Feger, Erhard Ratdolt. Augsburg, Pergamen. Thuróczi János (d. c 1488-89) summarised the history of Hungary up to 1487. It was printed in Brno in 1488, then in Augsburg in the same year. The publisher dedicated the Ausgburg edition to King Matthias and the dedication of the presentation copy printed on parchment was inscribed with gold paint. Today it is the first known print made in gold paint. The same application was used to illuminate the picture depicting a scene from the Saint László legend and the frontispiece. In addition, the volume also contains several coloured xylographs portraying Hungarian kings and battle scenes.

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“Matthias the Just”. When a visitor admires the Buda Castle, he or she would not even think that in the 15th century one

of Europe’s most prominent Renaissance courts could be found here. Hunyadi Mátyás was one of the most outstanding monarchs of the period, perhaps of the Renaissance. The Renaissance is regarded to have lasted in Italy, its cradle, from the middle of the 15th to the end of the 16th century. It appeared in other European countries with a delay of some decades or even a century. Hungary was the first to join in the several century development of the Renaissance. There it lasted from the middle of the 15th to the middle of the 17th century, or to the end of that century in some parts of the country. Besides the long-established relations between Hungary and Italy, reception of the new style was also promoted by the many Hungarian students who attended Italian universities at the time, as well as the intensive political and economic relations Hungary maintained with a number of important Italian courts. King Matthias’s reign is surrounded by many legends, yet it is a fact that he was one of the most enlightened and significant rulers of his age. He was born the second son of Hunyadi János, Transylvanian voivode in Kolozsvár (in present-day Romania). As a member of one of Hungary’s prominent families he had an excellent education, his tutors being the two outstanding humanist scholars of the period, Grzegorz z Sanoka and Vitéz János. He spoke Latin well and read widely. Soon after his father and brother had died he was taken to Prague as the prisoner of King Ladislas V. Following the king’s death his family’s supporters in Hungary appointed him to the throne and in 1458, not just anywhere, but actually on the ice of the Danube he was acclaimed king. The young monarch began his reign energetically. In addition to engaging in major wars with the Holy Roman Empire and spreading his rule westwards, he supported culture substantially and established a prominent humanist court. He fought wars all his life and gained sizeable territories from the then Bohemian Kingdom. Moreover, he assumed the Czech royal title and also occupied some parts of present-day Austria. During the wars with Bohemia Matthias allegedly wanted to scout the military situation in disguise but was captured. However, he cleverly claimed to be a stableman and managed to escape. This story gave way to a plethora of anecdotes, legends and popular tales about the king in disguise who visited his subjects, outwitted tyrant landlords and distributed justice everywhere. Thus several Hungarian folk tales refer to him as “Matthias the Just”.

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T hat he was a great organiser is sure. During one military expedition he was forced

into the Castle of Boroszló (now Wroclaw, Poland). Before the enemy had been able to blockade the castle, Matthias had all the food gathered from the vicinity and set out his light mounted cavalry to harass the enemy with continuous forays. The starving besieging forces under constant attack finally gave up and sued for peace from the King inside the castle. Matthias was a noted humanist and Renaissance monarch. Renaissance artists worked in his courts in Buda and Visegrád, and Renaissance constructions were carried out in many parts of the country. The king read a great deal and was regarded a highly educated man at the time. He received and hosted scholars in his court, taking part in symposia and his intelligence often captivated them. Thus it was almost natural that the great Renaissance scholars visited King Matthias’s court at least once. They dedicated poems to the king and glorified him. Of course, he was pleased and never ungrateful, supporting scholars with large sums. Matthias recognised he could gain much advantage from the intellectual bustle in politics and therefore he made use of the services of scholars and artists who visited and kept contact with him, thus creating a whole propaganda machinery. This intellectual prosperity increased when he married Beatrix of Aragon from Naples. Matthias’s attention then turned to the Italian Renaissance entirely, since many Italians came to his court with the queen. The king was famous all over Europe for sponsoring the arts. Not only sculptors, painters, poets and writers surrounded him but also musicians. Matthias was especially fond of Latin music. He maintained his own orchestra and choir, not only for ecclesiastical purposes but also for entertainment. The court was also an excellent gathering place for scholars – German and Polish astronomers, as well as scientists from Europe’s humanist schools. King Matthias intended to found a large university in Buda, so he planned huge constructions, though was not able to see them accomplished. He actively supported talented young people who wanted to study abroad – many Hungarian students went to Italian and other universities in western Europe.

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The

Memory of the World

Bibliotheca Corviniana UNESCO has initiated the “Memory of the World” in order to take stock of and preserve the most valuable part of the world’s intellectual legacy, in addition to its natural and cultural heritage. Hungary has three items considered worthy of being included in the list so far – one is the codices or Corvinas, which have remained from King Matthias’s famous library. T he Bibliotheca Corviniana, which used to be the second largest collection of books after the Vatican Library in Renaissance Europe, consisted of volumes written for King Matthias and included copies of the period’s most important works.

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T here is no direct source indicating when Matthias consciously began collecting books. He must have had his own books already in youth and those together with the books of the royal court became the basis of a collection, which imperceptibly began developing into a real library. Matthias and the Hunyadi family were descended from the Roman Corvinus kin, therefore the corvus, the raven, often appears in depictions and hence the origin of the name of King Matthias’s codices. His library was called Bibliotheca Corviniana. He managed to have assembled a large library as early as the beginning of his reign, yet the collection was really extended only after the death of Vitéz János and Janus Pannonius (the first Hungarian poet known by name), since the king merged their libraries with his own. His corvinas were mainly made by Italian masters and were beautifully bound, richly decorated masterpieces, dealing with themes fitting the spirit of the times. Matthias often commissioned works on history and philosophy. Writers and translators worked in his court and there was an illuminators’ workshop operating in Buda. T he Corviniana not only represent the attempt to express excessive grandeur in appearance, the king also wanted to establish the most outstanding library, something extraordinary in its content. Hardly half a year before Matthias’s death, Bartolommeo della Fonté wrote from Florence, “… just like in everything else, the King’s intention is to overshadow other sovereigns with regard to this library” and according to his opinion, “he will definitely surpass them”. In any case, during his lifetime no other library like his could be found north of the Alps. Not long after Matthias’s death in 1490 the library began to diminish. During the reign of succeeding monarchs and the wars fought against the Ottomans the library entirely ceased to exist. Scribes, illuminators and artists working in Buda departed. However, the process of collecting books did not come to an end, since new libraries were constantly being established in provincial mansions and episcopal sees, thus keeping the Renaissance alive during the troublesome centuries and leaving an intellectual heritage for future generations. Today the National Széchényi Library collects the codices and is trying to re-establish the Bibliotheca Corviniana from the items which remain.

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Hieronymus: Commentarii in epistolas S. Pauli c 1488 Florence, Parchment


Hieronymus:

Commentarii in epistolas S. Pauli c 1488 Florence, Parchment The work contains the commentaries of Saint Jerome (d. 420) on the epistles of Saint Paul. The illuminations is the work of Gherardo and Monte di Giovanni. On the left side of the double title page is a list of contents and in the ornamental framing on the right side, between Matthias’s emblems, the royal arms can be seen at the bottom, the Hunyadi arms at the top, as well as portraits of Matthias and Beatrix.

Augustinus, Aurelius:

De civitate Dei 1470-1490, Naples, Parchment The codex has a red velvet binding with enamelled and gilded silver clasps. The arms of Hungary and of Matthias’s family can be seen on the clasps. Little remains of the original velvet and silk binding; the clasps may have caused its destruction, since the Turkish troops occupying Buda probably regarded the bindings with precious metalwork as the greatest value in the royal library. The codex, containing Saint Augstine’s (d. 430) historical-philosophical work, was returned to Hungary as a gift of Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1869.


Philostratus, Flavius: Opera - Philostratus, Lemnius: Imagines 1487-1490, Florence, Parchment

Bonfini translated the work into Latin for the royal library in 1487. The codex reached Buda from Florence in Matthias’s lifetime, but the leather binding with architectonic ornamentation bears the arms of W ladislas II. The Philostratus Corvina is one of the most finely decorated manuscripts of the royal library and its title page has the greatest wealth of decorative elements in the all’antica style: medals, cameos, architectonic elements, mythological scenes and a triumph. Some scholars consider that the person holding the triumphal procession is Corvin János, an indication of Matthias’s idea for succession. A portrait of Matthias can be seen among the medal portraits of Roman emperors in the ornamental framing on the left hand sheet.


Music To the End of Times Agócs Gergely

...The project lasted four years. During that time, 112 bands were hosted by Budapest’s Fonó Music Hall and recorded in their studios. Each group usually spent four or five days in Budapest. Of the music recorded a little more than half represents the folklore of the Hungarians. The rest is the music belonging to the cultures of other ethnic groups in the region. Since singers and dancers from the various villages often accompanied the musicians to Budapest, the collection also includes vocal and dance documentation. The recorded audio, video and photographic material comes to more than 1,800 hours and the archived documents from this project are considered to be the largest uniform instrumental folk music collection in Europe...

Photo: Kútvölgyi Mihály


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At the ‘Last Hour’ Recordings Dance house

Hungary has spent the past two years celebrating Bartók Béla’s and Kodály

Cselényi József and Agócs Gergely

Zoltán’s work. During these anniversary years, there has certainly been more mentioning of folk music, and the larger concert halls have hosted more productions that, at least, vibrate more sympathetically with the genre. But today one cannot simply talk about concerts of folk music, since even the most diverse trends in music allude to folk music more and more often. However, we encounter real folklore or our most authentic traditional music less and less often on Hungarian stages. When, from time to time, we are able to bring an authentic, traditional village performer to the stage in a folk music production, thereby calling attention to this kind of music to an audience wider than just a small circle of specialists — then success is almost always inevitable. At these times, the reviews — if there are any at all for the genre — sing high praises, oftentimes emphasizing the importance of tradition contentedly acknowledging that, once again, we have done justice to ”respecting the past.” Then once again we realize what we are obliged to do. A good piece of writing can say in a thousand ways that the past — which is now gone — is beautiful, valuable, illuminating, moving, or touching. The exacting observer may notice, however, that traditional performers are physically and personally present at such folk music concerts; consequently, not as representatives of the past but, rather, of the present. Though many times they are old, they are here amongst us.

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Existing in the present (Heidegger), they are representatives of a cultural milieu which cultured European public opinion on music, has been busy burying for the past 100-150 years now. Of course, the ethnographers and ethnomusicologists have contributed to the public opinion which constantly wants to put figures of folklore in the past. Already in the first period of Hungarian folk music research (similar to trends in ethnography in other regions of Europe), the notion of being in the “24th hour”, the last moment, was assumed. Researchers in the field so often hear the cry ”Oh! but, in my time...” — that is, they met with the opinion that the situation of the moment was only a pale impression of a vanished, fabled golden age. The past, even in the past, has also been inclined to put a gloss over the truth. From there the view quickly formed and became widespread that folklore is sentenced to death and is already, in fact, the attribute of a vanished time. Nevertheless, if we take a good look at some slice of folklore, it is “living history” which has certainly presented itself by virtue of some strange situation from the wax-works of a lost Eden (Milton). As if, here in Central-Eastern Europe, an attribute of our history would be the coagulation of certain historical moments. Since then it has become cliché to articulate the decay of tradition, and we are obliged to gaze wide-eyed at today’s folk music researchers and naively ask the question, ”Is there anything left to collect?” Yes, there is. The Hungarians have a distinguished reputation worldwide in surveying folklore traditions, especially folk music traditions. In 1895, Hungarian ethnomusicologist Vikár Béla was the first one in Europe to use the phonograph to make recordings of folk music. A collection of 3,000 original folk music melodies from Vikár’s phonograph recordings made in the field was presented at the Hungarian pavilion of the Paris World Fair in 1900. Bartók and Kodály, the great forerunners and first generation of folk music researchers, certainly inspired other generations of researchers. Until his death in 1967, the master himself, Kodály Zoltán supervised the scientific research on folk music, and in that period many outstanding young researchers joined the ranks of folk music researchers. Work started by the Folk Music Research Group at the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences resulted in transcription and classification of several hundred thousand folk melodies. This remarkable scientific achievement and accumulation of technical knowledge for social use revealed, at the same time, an ambiguous picture. Folk songs until the end of the 1960’s were, for the most part, circulated in written music or in recordings of arrangements by Budapest performers; thus, the stylistic features of the regional performers, as more important than the melodic line, remained concealed. The original objectives earmarked a survey of the most archaic vocal tradition. It should be noted here that recording the music of bands of five or six members was for a long time technically impossible to implement. Documentation of the instrumental music tradition was way behind documentation of the singing tradition, and this disproportion was reflected in the dissemination of folk music in staged and media forms. The workshops for the official interpretation of folk music and folk dance have been the big Hungarian 2002. Gyimesbükk-Tarhavaspataka, Bíró Viktor flautist State folk dance ensembles with their accompanying bands and Transylvania choruses that followed the Soviet model of idealized uniformity.

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At the “Last Hour” Recordings

The big turning point was the unfolding of the so-called ’dance house movement’ at the beginning of the 1970’sthe development of a Hungarian model for preserving tradition and education, which was carried along with unexpected enthusiasm.

Photos: Halmos Béla

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At the “Last Hour” Recordings

The “dance houses” were established as youth clubs in city recreation centres, where folk dance or folk music material based on folklore research and field recordings was taught by trained dance pedagogues. Well-known Hungarian folklore researchers took part in this process. The dance house method was developed under the guidance of folk dance researcher Martin György. Alongside of this, in the circles of young dancers and musicians it became the general practice and theory that folk dance, traditional singing, bagpipe playing, shepherd’s flute, cimbalom or stringed instrument playing could only be learned properly, in an authentic way, in the villages of a given region and directly from the traditional village performers. Thus, alongside of a club life focused on the folk arts, a “movement” of going to the villages and documenting folklore also developed. What the young people found in the Hungarian villages in the region (at the time the collection work extended to villages of the Hungarian minority and neighboring ethnic groups in Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Ukraine) changed their lives. The newly found tradition created a storm in Hungary’s cultural life. In Hungary in the 1970’s, the life, history and culture of Hungarians living in communities outside of the Hungarian borders created after WW I was a taboo subject. The socialist-realist interpretation of tradition built a model, however, that was difficult to accept and identify with for the Hungarians living within present-day Hungary’s borders. For those involved in the new wave of Hungarian music and dance folklore the “dance house generation” the authentic folk music and folk dance provided a true self portrait and straightforwardly acceptable system of identity coordinates, as opposed to the official bogus, phony, government imposed world of cultural politics. In the social reality of the period, it wasn’t surprising that this dance house movement and the paradigm that developed here came to be, within a short time, interpreted as an anti-government.


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The young people of the dance house, after immersing themselves in the world of traditional culture, no longer believed in the power of new winds that swept everything away, nor in the ideology of an ended history. Instead, they believed in the continuity of cultures and the value of identity and salvaged priceless musical treasures for succeeding generations through the ever-spreading field collection work. Piece by piece they fit together the mosaic of a self-portrait which they thought had been lost. They realized this in the nick of time. The disintegration of the state socialist government also brought the expected changes in Hungary. The restrictions on travel were lifted; it then became possible for the folk arts fanatics to freely visit those regions in which foreigners’ movements had been forbidden or heavily monitored by the previous political power. The villages of the Csángó Hungarians are located in such a zone in Romania. As the easternmost group of Hungarians, their traditional material and intellectual culture is so archaic that one who visits there feels like he or she has travelled back 150–200 years in time. In the 1990’s, audio-visual data recording technology developed in leaps and bounds, while at the same time methods and systems used for summarizing folklore research were developed that also made it possible to interconnect with other kinds of collections and databases. Unfortunately, the consumer society model also gained headway at the time, and the consequences of that social cultural process flooded Hungarian society. We had to wake up to the mentality of the new times, and the local communities, writhing in the trance of consumerism and convenience, now had to pay their respects to the new Material belief, with no need for an autogenetic mode of expression. We had to realize that, in the global sphere, culture is not the sum of common societal values and a system of symbols but, rather, the basis of action for ”the suppliers and consumers of the cultural product”, And, at that time, we felt the symphony of the new life resonating in the dissonance of the masses. This is when it occurred to experts in the new wave of the folk music revival that the professional workshops of Hungarian folk music research should be urgently brought together to do a comprehensive documentation of the traditional music culture of the last active generation of village music dynasties. The documentation should be done systematically, with uniform technical parameters using professional digital sound and visual equipment. In the 1990’s in villages in the Carpathian Basin, the last musicians still playing traditional music on folk instruments were approximately sixty-five to seventy years old. Unfortunately, we all saw what they had been saying repeatedly since our ”discovery” of folklore - that the advance of the consumer society system would bring something to an end. It became clear that, before long, a thousand-year-old period of instrumental music tradition would come to an end. The final hour had truly come.

Mesterke Gergely bagpipe player, Külsôkerecsin, Moldva 2003. Antim Ioan “koboz” player, Livezi, Moldva 2000

A few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a cultural centre was founded in Budapest on the initiative of a private businessman. The centre undertook the representation of traditional music culture. The institution was established in the newly reconstructed warehouse section of a defunct factory and was named the Fonó Budai Zeneház – Budapest’s Fonó Music Hall. In September of 1997 they began working on the “Utolsó Óra” or “Last Hour” project at the Fonó. The basic idea of this undertaking was to document the melodic vocabulary of a traditional band representing a different village or smaller region every week. Through detailed documentation and studio recordings, it would be possible to demonstrate that in the Carpathian region there is an interconnecting, uniform, archaic instrumental musical language.

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In the late Baroque period,

the composed music for string ensembles was also folklorized in Hungary. The sound of the “Four Seasons” or the “Brandenburg Concertos” wasn’t taken on in folklore anywhere else in the world, not even in the lands of the great Baroque powers (France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom). Formations combining violin-viola-double bass–woodwind-”cimbalom” (the word “cimbalom” itself is the Hungarianized version of the Italian word “cembalo”) - or variations without a wind instrument player or the cimbalom – have definitely become part of the music folklore of the Carpathian Basin (also in the neighbouring regions of Moravia in the Eastern Czech Republic and the Gorale region of Southern Poland). The region’s other well-known feature is that the Gypsy minority are specialists in serving the music needs in the villages and often play the music of four or five ethnic groups living next to one another. The Hungarian folklorists, folk music researchers and folk musicians felt it was their mission to salvage that music, while at the same time emphasizing the cultural reciprocity that this music represented. The project intended to keep alive the music of the Gypsy musicians who play string instruments in Hungarian, Slovak, Ruthenian and Transylvanian Romanian villages all over the region. The project also included the vocal music folklore existing in the region and the more archaic instrumental culture of the wooden flute and bagpipe, which are traditionally found amongst the shepherds. The “Utolsó Óra” or „Last Hour” program wished to present the valuable, colourful tradition which calls forth a millennium and a half of cultural history. And it was a success. The project lasted four years. During that time, 112 bands were hosted by Budapest’s Fonó Music Hall and recorded in their studios. Each group usually spent four or five days in Budapest. Of the music recorded a little more than half represents the folklore of the Hungarians. The rest is the music belonging to the cultures of other ethnic groups in the region. Since singers and dancers from the various villages often accompanied the musicians to Budapest, the collection also includes vocal and dance documentation. The recorded audio, video and photographic material comes to more than 1,800 hours and the archived documents from this project are considered to be the largest uniform instrumental folk music collection in Europe. The directors of the “Last Hour” project were also interested in making the recordings available to the general public, reaching beyond the small community of folk music researchers and ethnographers. The most beautiful melodies have been selected for release in a series of CDs for general distribution. Researchers from the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences also took part in the organization of this project. In addition to private capital, a great deal of financial support for the project also came from the Hungarian National Cultural Heritage Ministry. But the money, the professional knowledge and the organizational efforts would not, in and of themselves, have brought together the results described here. Necessary for the success of this project were the commitment, kindness and good nature of the elderly, many times in poor health, village people. Most of them passed their knowledge over to the equipment in the studio, knowing that this would probably be their last visit to Budapest. They played music and sang with a devotion and enthusiasm that few of the great performing artists on the concert stage are capable of . This is what shines forth from these recordings. Photos: Halmos Béla

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The studio recording work for this project was completed in September 2001. The name “Utolsó Óra” – “Last Hour” – has, unfortunately, proved very pertinent. One of the musicians while here in Budapest for the recording sessions died on the street in front of the Fonó Music Hall. Since then, other extraordinary musicians that came here to Budapest to participate in this project have gone on to join another band in heaven. We the students can only hope that what came from the beautiful old hands of our masters and has been saved with the help of the studio technology will be important to future generations.


Fazekas Gergely

Small Country musical superpower

Masters and Their Students

from Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music Photos: Hajdú József


There is hardly

a chapter of the music history of the 20th

century that can be written without mentioning Hungarian musicians..

The composers, conductors, violinists and pianists that have come out of Budapest’s Academy of Music have played a determining role in musical life, not only in Hungary, but the world over — since so many emigrated: some voluntarily, others in the wake of political pressure. Hungarian musicians and musicians of Hungarian descent represent an ongoing tradition of music education which began with the first students and master staff of the Academy of Music when Liszt Ferenc founded it in 1875. The notion of establishing a Hungarian national Academy of Music was first conceived in 1869. Six years later, it opened its doors, though still a rather modest institution. The decades following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise were perhaps the most intensive period in the history of Hungary’s capital city. The until then sepraate settlements of Pest, Buda and Óbuda were joined to form the city of Budapest — which quickly became one of Europe’s most progressive, exciting and effervescent metropolises. The Academy of Music began functioning on October 14, 1875 in a flat in the heart of the city on the banks of the Danube with five professors and 38 students. The director was Erkel Ferenc, a prominent personality in Hungarian music. Earlier he had been music director of the National Theatre, the conductor of the Philharmonic Association, and his name is also connected with the formation of the Hungarian National Opera Liszt Ferenc was president of the Academy and led master courses in piano, mostly in the winter months when he was residing in Budapest. During that period of his life, Liszt lived in and divided his time between Rome, Weimar and Budapest. One of his students in that first school year was the pianist Thomán István, a great talent and perfect representative of the Budapest Music Academy’s 130 year tradition. Liszt’s student, Thomán went on to teach the most significant pianists of the turn of the century, the young Dohnányi Ernő and Bartók Béla, along with the most influential master piano teacher of the beginning of the 20th century, Székely Arnold. Amongst Székely’s students was Kadosa Pál, who later on in the second half of the 20th century taught legendary Hungarian pianists such as: Kocsis Zoltán, Schiff András and Ránki Dezső.

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Enterieur, Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music

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Founder of another important ”dynasty” is the world famous violinist Hubay Jenő. In 1886 they invited him to return home to Budapest to teach at the Academy of Music. He had been teaching at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels but immediately accepted the invitation and returned home to teach at an institution of lesser fame, though of more importance to him. He taught there until his death, educating a generation of violinists still influential to this day in passing on the ”Hubay school” and it’s aesthetic principles. World famous violinists emerged from his classes, such as Szigeti József, Székely Zoltán, Fenyves Loránd and Végh Sándor. In the same period as Hubay, David Popper arrived at Academy of Music to found the cello department. Born in Prague, Popper had been cello soloist at the Vienna Opera and later became a celebrated virtuoso. Popper taught cello as well as chamber music, and it is because of him that chamber music has been important ever since for students at the Music Academy. By the turn of the century, in accordance with the plans of its founders, the Budapest Music Academy had ascended to the forefront of European music education — due to the efforts of the two world renowned musicians, along with Hans Koessler, the forefather of 20th century Hungarian composers. In 1882, when he took up his professorship at the Music Academy, Koessler, who belonged to Brahms’ circle of friends, was not regarded as one of the most advanced composers, but he was a remarkably thorough teacher. Amongst his students were Dohnányi Ernő with the late romantic style and Bartók with his more daring experiments. Also a student of his was one of the most well-prepared musicians of the first half of the 20th century, the legendary chamber music teacher and composer Weiner Leó. Kodály Zoltán who over the course of his extraordinary career became a national teasure, was also Koessler’s student. Kodály was the most important link in the long line of 20th century Hungarian composers and the teacher of Farkas Ferenc, who in turn educated many important composers. Farkas was an unusually cultured musician who knew every nook and cranny of composition, and his huge life work – the product of some 80 years of activity — spanned nearly every genre of music. Two of his most important students were Kurtág György and Ligeti György: two defining figures in the music history of the 20th century. Like many of his generation, Ligeti also accomplished his career in exile. Periods of adversity compelled significant artists and performers to leave their country; their new homes, or their homeless state, then brought them artistic and/or box office successes - a unique historical paradox. Many emerged from Hungary during the period of tribulation in the 20th century. As Nazism swept forth between 1933 and 1944, many musicians left their homes for various reasons – as did Bartók and Dohnányi. A significant number of artists emigrated during the time of the Communist takeover after the war in the second half of the 1940’s, and then after the 1956 revolution as well. The numerous difficulties and serious mental burdens of defection changed personal paths of life, unleashed creative energies and marked the fates and perspectives of succeeding generations of Hungarian conductors. The seven greatest Hungarian conductors of the century: Reiner Frigyes (Fritz Reiner), Széll György (George Szell), Ormándy Jenő (Eugene Ormandy), Doráti Antal, Solti György (Sir Georg Solti), Fricsay Ferenc and Kertész István – all took very different routes but arrived at the peak of the 20th century’s performing arts. All of them — with the exception of Széll — were students at the Academy of Music in Budapest. The most important symphony orchestras of our time, no matter where in the world, have all had a ”Hungarian period”: Solti and Reiner in Chicago, Ormandy in Phildelphia, Széll in Cleveland all raised the genre of symphonic music to a new level. Doráti in German and English orchestras; Kertész (who died at a young age) with the Vienna Philharmonic; Fricsay with the legendary Berlin Orchestra; all carried on the golden age of symphonic music.

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The entrance of the Academy of Music, established by Liszt Ferenc

Of course, there were many that stayed home, proving that irrespective of politics, a person could still be both artistically and professionally successful in Hungary. Here it will suffice to mention two artists: the phenomenally talented pianist Fischer Annie – student of Székely Arnold and Dohnányi – and Ferencsik János, who, as chief music director of the Hungarian State Concert Orchestra and the Budapest Opera House, conducted unforgettable concerts. The dazzling list of names above could, of course, be extended with other conductors, pianists, violinists and composers — Hungary has always had an abundance of musical talent, even in its leanest periods.

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Just What Is the Secret of the Budapest’s Academy of Music

Just what is the secret of the Budapest’s Academy of Music, and what could be described as a characteristically Hungarian performance tradition — will probably remain unfathomable. Attributes such as impeccable technical preparedness, being cut out for making beautiful music, sensitivity to minute detail and unconditional faith in the arts are generalities. The great names in music of people that have been educated in Hungary for more than a century - all had very different personalities, habits, mannerisms, working practices and aesthetic views. So perhaps it is unnecessary to make a point of national characteristics. The alma mater of many great artists was founded by Liszt Ferenc who, above and beyond his nationality, was a citizen of the world a cosmopolitan, who became a national symbol for Hungarians, though he didn’t speak a word of Hungarian. All of Europe was at his feet, from Paris to Rome, Saint Petersburg to London. Liszt’s entire career proved that music is a universal language, a unique language through which people are able to open up and understand one another – regardless of national affiliation.

Liszt Ferenc among his Hungarian friends

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Enterieur, Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music

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“The Jungle Book” Director: Kovács Géza • Puppet and Set designer: Boráros Szilárd


Láposi Terka

of the

The Scene Parallel Worlds

Prologue The “explorations” of recent decades have brought about a rich diversity in the art of Hungarian puppetry.

Since the beginning of the 80’s, young, creative art groups with open, cosmopolitan sentiment and the desire for world experience instinctively launched artistic processes whose have effects can be felt up to this day. Thus, they broke the state’s relatively monopolistic, government funded puppet theatre structure and culture. Unique, dense forms of expression, self-signs, philosophical and artistic concepts — these were sought after, and artists strive to identify them in each other’s work even today. They leave their marks robustly on their creations. A conscious world view is voiced tersely in all levels of their performance. Seeing and hearing them, it becomes perceptible even to the audience that it is good to discover and seek, as well as to find sense and potent ability.

It is a privileged moment in which the renowned creators—Boráros Szilárd (Hottó), Grosschmid Erik (Kecskemét), Kovács Géza (Kecskemét), Rumi László (Budapest)—of today’s Hungarian puppet art can and do co-exist. A series of works, grown beyond local significance and capable of carrying on a dialogue with life, have emerged from the fecund orchestration of their art. Living through their creative journey of a quarter of a century and standing amazed at their “life sets” we can say that trends have been born in the wake of their art; they have led to the restoration of the disintegrated fibre of the spirit. Their art is not of negation but, rather, of statement, expectation and permission. They are “explorers” who, discovering the various dimensions of life even individually, proclaim the life-giving power of playfulness. They seek the values and tools of art, theatre and the puppet theatre in such a way so as to present to us their own points of directions and weighting opportunities. Kovács Géza and Rumi László are puppet directors and puppet artists, Boráros Szilárd and Grosschmid Erik are puppet set designers. We had a talk with them. About what? Let me respond with a quote from Valère Novarina, a remarkable figure of contemporary French theatre: “Theatre is the edifice of thought.” And if we accept that premiss, let us continue with the thought that puppets, objects and shapes are the wrap around the soul. The dialogue, then, was not about the process of creation but, rather, about “the piece of art torn from the artist.” In this case, the puppet show is a “piece of art”, as a unique manifestation of theatre, where the embodied spirit requires a multi-level analysis. The layer that is the most distinctively attribute of the genre, the “object”, is the use of puppets. What differentiates the puppets from all other objects around us? Its exciting, ancient “plus” that brings deep layers to the surface is its physical manifestation of the soul carried within—its aspect akin to incarnation, the breathing in of the spirit. The metamorphosis and complete transformation of this object can only be done in play. Thus, each puppet carries an independent, soul-breathed existence in the play. So, after all, how should we begin?


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“Suttogó fûzesek” (Whispering Willows) Director: Kovács Géza Puppet and Set Designer: Boráros Szilárd

“A helység kalapácsa” (The Hammer of The Locality) Director: Árkosi Árpád Puppet and Set Designer: Boráros Szilárd

Boráros Szilárd: Let’s talk about the Theatre! Grosschmid Erik: The theatre? That’s a completely unnatural state of being. Hundreds of people cram into a dark space, into each other’s aura, in order to watch many other people who sweat in the limelight. Boráros Szilárd: Why are you being ironic? This is not an unnatural state of being! Think about folk theatre, where the desire for common experience and simultaneous entertainment is the propeller. Grosschmid Erik: Has theatre, perhaps, originated from folk tales and storytelling? Boráros Szilárd: I don’t think so! In my opinion, initially, its purpose must have been making contact with the ancient ancestors. I have thought about this quite a lot: What is theatre? I think it is the scene of parallel worlds. The parallel worlds are among us. Everything is around us in the present that has always existed independently of time. Theatre helps us manifest that, to make it visible. It needs us, “theatre-makers”, to make this all incarnate. I try to manifest what has integrated, through my emotions, into a vision from all of the worlds thus far. I give space to the parallel worlds. This is theatre. Kovács Géza: Both theatre and puppet theatre have a sort of initiation rite calling. Man has been “tossed” into the world, and in this “tossing,” he has begun to make connections and to seek: Where have I come from? Where have I arrived? What is my relationship to all of this? This state of “being tossed into the world” can be experienced in the puppet theatre. Boráros Szilárd: Yes, theatre begins where we try to embody a notion, to give it a shape. Let the notion speak in the body. Kovács Géza: But if we look further, away from the present, we can see that it is not only our present state that is considered in theatre. The whole ritual of this process is within us. By nature, puppetry has preserved much more of this ancientness than live theatre today. The way you are faced with a puppet provides answers to existential questions. Something operates in a puppet which deeply moves you. Boráros Szilárd: It is because puppetry is multi-layered. Kovács Géza: And because puppetry has preserved much more of the questions and suggestions about making contact with the ancestors.

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“Sellôének” (The Singing of Mermaids) Director: Rumi László Puppet and Set Designer: Fekete Dóra “Álomjáró testvérkék” (Dreamwalking Little Brothers) Director: Kiss Rita Puppet and Set Designer: Grosschmid Erik

Boráros Szilárd: I identify with another in live theatre also, but puppetry uses an object, a puppet, for this transformation. Thereby, it can run through a much wider palette. Puppet theatres treat space just as freely today as real theatres and open-air performances. It can treat the other art forms as a partner of equal rank, as it can use anything for an equal rank conveyance. Kovács Géza: However, in it, theatricality will always remain, as it was so accurately described by Kovács Ildikó (puppetry director, Kolozsvár 1927–2008): the moment of creation. In puppetry, you can detect and experience the moment of creation, the fantastic, utterly unique moment of incarnation, in the way a puppet begins to talk to you. This is special for both the audience and the artist. This art form, indeed, is about our existential being and our soulful connection to God, the Creator, and to creation. Grosschmid Erik: Every creative art represents an act of creation, but theatre is created by man to man directly. Man, as the prop, cannot be missing in this process. Sculptors and painters handle physical matter differently from artists with a theatrical mindset. Perceptions are triggered on an entirely differently level here. I can see a man in front of me, even if he is moving a puppet. Humans, as the quintessential material factor, puppets carrying souls are present. Láposi Terka: Who is the player in a puppet show: the Word incarnate in matter or the Word expressed from matter? What is a puppet? Boráros Szilárd: The Word itself embodied in matter. Grosschmid Erik: This cannot even be separated. Word, which is the most important, exists between the actor (the human) and the puppet. The cooperation between these two brings out the essence from each. But let’s not forget the fact that the audience is present. And Word, uttered, meets the audience. It is not enough to conjure Word out of a physical object; if there is no audience to address, there is no theatre. Theatre as creative art is connected to humans and their presence on many levels. Kovács Géza: Theatre is making a connection.

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“A Fülemüle” (The Nightingale) Director: Rumi László Puppet and Set Designer: Bodor Judit

Láposi Terka: Why do you make puppet theatre? The notions that elevate the dignity of man, sensitize his art, stimulate his desire for creativity can all be detected in your creations. It is still exciting to know what the core is that motivates you. Géza’s theatre-making work and his directorial activities thus far reveal a sensitive exploration of the radiance of Life and the “transparency of existence”. Szilárd, while creating, safeguards many around himself as an axis. He likes creating art incarnate when surrounded by a theoretical, spirit-filled, talkative workshop atmosphere. He moves spaces around himself both in reality as well as symbolically. In Erik’s art, his most captivating is his knowledge of material and playful light-heartedness. His apparently limitless creativity explores incredible “isms”. His work thus far can be considered feast for the eyes. Rumi’s art is lyrical, poetic and mytho-poetic. One of the most refined, defining aspects of his theatre is continuous polyphony. The images, the visual elements, the words, the movements and sounds are intertwined with the multi-level layers of thought unceasingly. A creator who sees the whole, whose theatrical gestures are also reminiscent of the spiritual teaching evoking ancient knowledge. In the past quarter of a century, a dynamic cohesion has been operating around and through you. So. Why are you doing it?

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Boráros Szilárd: I feel I have seen a parallel world which has been captivating me. These worlds are in me, which I must make manifest. For me, puppetry is the perfect medium to accomplish that. Here is an important landmark of my life, the “Whispering Willows” performance (Szombathely, Mesebolt Bábszínház) that Géza and I staged together. Géza created a story from Gypsy fairy tales, and we began to think. The most important thing in this process was that we were able to fill it with personal experiences and spiritual thoughts. It became credible because it had been made personal. It means me, as well as represents us. The essence became refined. When creator and creator come closer, when tensions between them disappear, when we are able to view and feel, even on the level of words, the world which we are trying to turn into a theatrical play, the impact will also be much more complete. It will be more radiant and affect the audience all around. Láposi Terka: Géza, when you are on stilts, can you actually channel all this? Virtually all of your ritual plays performed in the form of street theatre are actually moving images of ancient, archaic worlds and myths. What happens up there? Kovács Géza: Beyond the technical development, we saw something in these “elevating legs” with Rumi László and Pályi János 25 years ago, which really raise you to a different level. I rise above the crowd, also symbolically. Because what are stilts all about? You step on a higher level, rise above the crowd, and if you operate the right energies within yourself, this higher level will simply begin to create a new community around you. I think that theatre is really creating community, whether it is street theatre, puppetry in a folk fair, or a puppet show in a real theatre. It is important what kinds of tools you use in which way when you strive to make a connection with the audience. Our plays involving stilts have incredibly brought people together, as we were all able to become one in some sort of energy field—we, the players and the audience. Experiencing all this enables me to say that it is utterly important for a well-operating puppet theatre today to contemplate how to become the engine that propels the integration of its audience into a community. State funded puppet theatres today should consider this issue as their salient responsibility. Today, when the opportunity in communal spaces to encounter communal experiences has been reduced to the minimum, puppet theatre must rise to the occasion to fill this function. A creation-community mindset is what creates. Let me cite one example: the way our play Christmas Mystery was created at the Griff Puppet Theatre in Zalaegerszeg. Borbély Szilárd wrote the script, and Rumi László directed Kő Boldizsár’s images. In its spatial perception, its image and musical approach, its script, a mystery play, perfect in its sacredness, was created, which gives impactful experiences and forges communities, evoking desire for these values naturally. Everything we have talked about is reflected by it completely. It is very contemporary in its script and visual art, while reaching back to the medieval games when such mystery plays and moralities operated in their natural power and context. We performed it in churches. In churches of congregations, and only in the prescribed time period. It had a shocking impact.

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“Vitéz Kukoricza János históriája”” (The Story of The Gallant Kukoricza János) Director: Rumi László Puppet and Set Designer: Grosschmid Erik


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Boráros Szilárd: It is important to note what our goal was with this performance. Can today, in the 21st century, a puppet theatre celebrate together with the congregation on a sacred and traditional holy day? This is what we wanted to find out in Zala. Can a performance be created in an operating church facility instead of a built theatre in such a way that the resulting experience be a credible celebration to all participants? Kovács Géza: It was cathartic. The sort of common breathing ensued between actor and audience which created a common energy field. Nothing else was needed, except the creation of a sacred moment in its own environment. Láposi Terka: This “energy field” can be created in a built puppet theatre also, if the spirituality and creative community is such that fulfils its calling with faith and credibility. Rumi László: Credibility? In this world which we live in today, the puppet theatre for me is an asylum: it allows me to play. In the most noble sense of the phrase, I can use all my energies here. Play is the opportunity for “life on a higher level”. I’m interested in play, the exploration, the discovery of new techniques, lights, shadows. Puppet theatre is a miniature universe, where you can experiment freely: create storms and calm seas with SFX experts, and play ball with the stars. You can play in a closed system, with pure rules; that is, to demonstrate the order found in the universe, to reactivate the myth. It is an ideal playground, the last spot of ground where not multinational corporations dictate the rules, which is also what the responsibility of the puppet theatre lies. Because what you put on the stage will form tastes and viewpoints and provide comfort. Kovács Géza: You create a closed world, operate an energy field—and it is not at all indifferent what, with what and how you do, because you can take the child anywhere. Boráros Szilárd: The puppet theatre is the pool of opportunities where you can manifest the created world with richer tools. What I sense in today’s Hungarian reality is that this era has come to an end, this time of visceral, creative road-search. I am not living my days of accumulation; I tend to simplify, to condense—I am interested in the essence of things. I am attracted by the directness of communication. Kovács Géza: The road that our generation travelled resembles most what Kemény Henrik’s family experienced. From somewhere, out of unexpectedness and unawareness, by a mere received impulse we realized and came in awe of what it would be like to play puppet theatre. Our road led through handicrafts, gathering experiences, and making missteps to conscious puppet theatre. We truly discover puppets for ourselves. Boráros Szilárd: The freedom of playing became engraved in us, which made Hungarian puppetry progressive and which, seen from the outside, appeared to skyrocket. Here in Hungary, creators meddled with techniques viscerally, as they had “set off to explore”. They had to begin from deep below, in order to reach down to their ancestors, their mythological, human symbols. Kovács Géza: How wonderful is the kind of breathing together, how peculiar is its psychology, when a man can grab a glass and believe that it is a person. Opposite him sits another man, who believes, through that glass, that it is who that man thinks it is. How mysteriously complex is the entire psychology of puppetry! It does not exist without that awareness. Thus, it is more complex than stone theatre is, where you must create another living human being of yourself (in most cases). Here, you have an object, a puppet, through which you must accomplish all that. Rumi László: The stronger the imagery of your imagination is that you project toward the audience, the more easily they are able to believe that the glass that you have just broken is Ophelia’s death in the performance. If the actor is strong enough, the children will begin to weep—although it was only a glass that was broken, they will know that someone died.

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“Égen-földön mese” (Tales from the Earth and Sky) Director: Kovács Géza Puppet and Set Designer: Boráros Szilárd

Kovács Géza: And not only the children. It can be achieved with adults also. Rumi László: I think the most important aspect in a puppet theatre is not whether the show has been created for junior or adult audiences but, rather, what the different layers of a good performance communicate to the different members of the audience of various ages and cultural and educational backgrounds. Can it draw the spectator into that parallel world which we have been talking about. This is what matters. On the other hand, it is important that we do not downgrade or infantilize the original qualities and archetypes that this genre is called to demonstrate. Boráros Szilárd: We must think in multi-layered puppet shows that span across ages and generations, which address children. They provide well-readable stories, while inviting adults also into the play. The more conscious experience and execution of creation must take place. Kovács Géza: I think that a change in pace in Hungarian puppetry has arrived. We expect our present theatre managers to exhibit recognizable consciousness in their artistic direction. Rumi László: Hungarian puppet theatre has left the baby steps behind; but one thing still has not taken place in Hungary yet. Society has not allowed puppet theatre through the rite of passage to legal age; adult puppetry has no proper social recognition. Kovács Géza: I also think it a lack that no real workshop theatres have been established yet. No real intellectual workshops and the related background structures serving them have been created. I think that to create an image and to train actors and audiences can only be accomplished with a professional creative community, where the team is made up of the director, the writer, the dramaturge, composer, designer, who all work together with a view to the future, projecting a vision to posterity. Today’s puppet theatres must adopt a value oriented approach. Canned culture and sacredness are phenomenal opposites. If you can demonstrate this in a play, you have already won. Láposi Terka: Can it be expressed what you would like to convey to the next puppet artist generation with your theatrical approach? Rumi László: Hm. I am looking for the great adventure in puppet theatre. The theatre is the scenery of the great journey. If I want to explore a phenomenon, like an issue, for example, more extensively, I make a performance of it.

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“A Fülemüle” (The Nightingale) Director: Rumi László Puppet and Set Designer: Bodor Judit

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Boráros Szilárd: I really miss the art. The high level art that characterizes this puppetry art form. If, for example, I want to use marionette-type puppets in a performance on the stage, I know what marionette really means, what kind of semiotic and genetic meaning it carries, how it is constructed mechanically, so how it can and should be used during the play. Láposi Terka: Does the social context in which you live influence you in the development of a creative-intellectual concept? Kovács Géza: You don’t have to conform to the trends of the world either with respect to content and intellect. We do well to try technical diversity on the stage, but it would be irresponsible to proceed towards and serve a canned culture. You must demonstrate quality according to your faith. Grosschmid Erik: I am interested in all kinds of materials that one can hold in his hands or try using. However, I know I won’t just create anything from them, as materials have their own internal (perhaps) spiritual laws. I can use them, but I can’t make just anything from them. Rumi László: What is good in puppet theatre is that it always brings about world redemption—playing does, that is. We have been granted the privilege to create values. The entire world, in the form of theatre, is at our disposal, and our responsibility is to select what we will utilize on this 12square-metres of the countless elements that filter through from the world. In order to become familiar with the systems, everyone should explore the world with us. Play is on the top of values for me. The ways children play always fascinate me—the method, the ease and beauty with which they redeem the world from moment to moment. Láposi terka: What is your view of the future? What kind of puppet theatre would you like to see, to direct? Kovács Géza: Hungarian puppetry and puppet theatre are standing at the threshold: it has come to a point of development. I mean the spiritual, operational and theatre management changes of quality consciousness. A spiritual paradigm shift must take place, as the majority of theatre managers must realize that without spiritual companions their company cannot be further developed. The forms of operation of stone theatre and institutionalized puppet theatre will remain, although the types of formation will also be present that reach back to the ancient, handicraft traditions of the process of puppetry creation. It is not in the themes that they will be traditional but, rather, in their creation methodology. They will work in the form of creative groups. Rumi László: The cultural “moment of inertia” will probably give impetus to city puppet theatres, but the structural change cannot be put off too much longer. Grosschmid Erik: A handicraft workshop is a precondition of the operation of a puppet theatre. Is it possible that renowned directors establish schools, conduct workshops and thus rally their disciples? I would like to establish my own workshop blessed with a guild mindset. Kovács Géza: I have outlined two possibilities for myself. One: the establishment of a company with its own permanent creative team where this team can create the performances (writer, director, designer, composer). The other: A theatre where I am the producer and finance the creation of the performance. I buy performances. I maintain a theatre so creators can bring about performances, which I launch. From that point on, performances live a life of their own.

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“Égen-földön mese” (Tales from the Earth and Sky) Director: Kovács Géza Puppet and Set Designer: Boráros Szilárd

“Bonifác a figurász” Director: Rumi László Puppet and Set Designer: Fekete Dóra

Rumi László: These are completely liveable models. And what would I like? A team that appreciate their puppets and value the money that they receive in support and use it to create good performances. Kovács Géza: I’d like to add to my wish list that if I choose the company establishment, then this man (Rumi) will be the Director, Szili (Boráros) will be the head designer, and (Grosschmid) Erik the leader of the factory. Grosschmid Erik: I’d like to create this complex design and handicraft workshop at Géza’s future theatre. Such a guild factory where the step of physical and scenic materialization of the theatre process the creation from the material, the incarnation into a physical form does not pose any problems. Technique, material, technology, handicraft, and aesthetic quality should go hand-in-hand. Rumi László: Okay, but who will accomplish all this? Boráros Szilárd: We will!

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Epilogue

“Odyssey” Director: Kovács Géza Puppet and Set Designer: Boráros Szilárd

Has the “gist” of what was said been made clear? They express themselves clearly and unambiguously: having learned and gained experience from a quarter of a century of theatrical existence, to create more robustly, revealing the essentials. With faith, delving into the depths of the materials, seeking the three-fold harmony of the spirit, the soul and the body. To penetrate spaces, worlds and irrationality via the understanding of the physical operation and mechanics of the body and the shape, in order to enable us, the audience, to grasp, even if only for a fleeting moment, the place of the spirit, and the flight of the soul. Since their most fervent desire is to involve us, those, who have almost completely forgotten how to play. This interview can be viewed as a partial summary. An increasing amount of courage is required to face the processes, both here in Hungary as well as abroad. Of those who know that a globalised world (would) require a globalised culture; of those who even slightly perceive that the expansion of spiritual space is obvious; of those who, looking around, sense the continuous revaluations, wire-crossing and extinguishing of things even within the arts on their own skin; of those who seriously experience the fact that we live in the culture of forgetfulness; well, of those can be expected some scrutiny and inspection so they can face (at least from time to time) their own present state of being. It can only be expected.

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Orosz István

If you incise it, anywhere, random There will always be a moment in the fabric of time A still image captured on its plate Where an arrow a heart is about to penetrate You probably remember Zeno of Elea, who invented witty situations to support his theory that perceptions received by the senses are misleading. The paradox of the unmoving arrow cited in the verse, which has become quite well-known, may be an appropriate point of departure for me to talk about the connection between my work and time. Zeno’s tale about the arrow is, of course, only second to one even more famous: the well-known race between Achilles and the tortoise, at the end of which the light-footed hero lumbers away in defeat, with the symbolic arrow of shame in his heart—not mentioning the even more real arrow that penetrated his heel. Now we only have to picture on single flying arrow; its target is of no importance for now. At any given moment, the arrow is at a certain point in space in the sky. This moment has no volume in time, so the arrow is actually at rest. Thinking along the same line, one can realize that the arrow remains still in the subsequent moments also. Since this can be asserted to be true for any moment in time, Zeno argues that the arrow does not move at all: its flight is only mere illusion. As a practicing animator, I face such phenomena every day. If perchance I were to animate a flying arrow, I would have to draw a perfectly still one on a piece of paper. Then an another arrow on another piece of paper, which appears the same as the previous one, but not the same. Theoretically, we could draw as many as we want by making the distance between each really tiny. Zeno, apparently the father of animation, divides time into many “nows”—somewhat similarly to the way we interpret space in the tale about the tortoise as always “here”. We arrive at these certain “here” and “now” by dividing the dimensions of time and space infinite times, until they cease to be a continuum. In other words, Zeno reduced the incessancy of time—as well as the continuity of space at the same time—to the sum of an infinite number of slices of time and space. But a discontinuity in this case means “timelessness” and “spacelessness”, following his train of thought, we would have to deny the existence of not only movement but that of time and space as well. Sometimes I think that paradoxes deemed absurd and unacceptable by common sense are the most suitable to help us understand more things in the world than we would be able to grasp along the lines of traditional logic. Let’s meet the apparently obvious propositions dubiously and with reservation, and let’s believe that the world can be seen with a different, concealed approach, which may perhaps be more difficult to find, but sometimes even the search encourages us with more enthusiasm. Can the path of the arrow be intercepted, can time be rolled back, can mistakes we believe irremediable be undone?


The Library

copperplate etching 2005.

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Shakespeare theatre copperplate etching 2000.

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orosz

istván

landscape

of

time

I was born in 1951, as one among not too remarkable ones in a remarkably unre-

Shakespeare theatre viewed from the right at a shallow angle

markable year, whose heroic emptiness I can exemplify with the title of the emigrant Hungarian writer, Arthur Koestler Arrow into infinity. The book, which happened to be written in 1951, was not published in Hungary. I used to look at a picture with horror and for a long time, as a child. There was an album among my parents’ books, and in it a picture with an arrow. If I recall correctly, my mother’s name was written in the top corner of the cover page, although I am certain that my first memories connected with the book date back to the time before I could read. An older man with a kind face was sitting in a forest, extending his arm in protection towards a deer that seemed actually to be running to him to find shelter. Among the trees—and I can still see the image—another man appears, who is targeting the deer with his arrow. The image is horrific already, but what captured me the most, what made me flee from this picture while at the same time some compulsion was drawing me to it was the following. The one with the meek face, while he is waiting for the deer with a forgiving patience for that arrow to be shot, this peaceful, deer-petting man already had an arrow in his heart. The same arrow that the evil one had not even shot. I can remember now who the meek martyr was: Saint Giles Benedictine friar perhaps, the mentor of the lame and the leper; but I have to admit that the vision of the un-shot yet already deadly arrow still haunts me. I may even have dreamt about it. Or was I only wishing that a dream would turn back the sequence of events that we think natural? Dreams are capable of doing that, perhaps even operating by turning back time. Time travels from the future to the past; the clock turns right to left, if you will. Who hasn’t been woken up with a start by some sudden noise that resounded in the dream as the origin of a lengthy series of events? How else could you explain that if not by the reversal of the direction of time, of that proverbial arrow? We are travelling from the future to the past, from the effect to the cause—“our future is diminishing”, the title of Nagy Gáspár’s volume of poems is apropos of our propositions here, as is of relevance the icon-faced father Florensky, the most innocent of Stalin’s victims, who explained the road to God by the theological argument of the reversal of time.

In my films, which have actual extensions in time, sometimes historic questions emerge, bringing up the problem of historic time. I attempted to reverse the linear flow of time in my film “Ah, America!”; I reflected on events of the recent past in “Mind the Steps”; and an attribute of “Landscapes of Time” was the individual demonstration of time. The fragmentation of time and strong, almost emblematic condensation are characteristic of the technique of animation. Events take place side-by-side, connected to each other, condensing time in such a way as space is condensed when seen through strong binoculars, placing near and remote objects side-by-side. When I began my career, I existed in this peculiar, timeless state of being. My generation was separated from the historical past by artificially raised pencils, while it was forbidden to talk about our doubts regarding the historic future. Many defected from Hungary during that period. They went to live with happier nations. The question arose in me whether this could be done in time also — to emigrate to different eras somehow. I pictured myself in the process of historic time. Renaissance, Baroque, Mannerism…

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Columns

copperplate etching 1992.

« TivoLiszt

copperplate etching 199o.

I often heard the expression “read between the lines” at the time, or “look at the other side of the coin”. It was obvious that important works of art had several meanings—but at least two; but it was even more evident to me that the more important one was the less conspicuous one. The correlation between images with double meanings and time is quite apparent. They mean different things when viewed from afar and seen from up close. If one view is a portrait, the other one is a landscape. In these cases, the spectator becomes co-creator; he or she must find the right view. While seeking it, they will have to experience their own coordinates in time and space. They must identify themselves. At times, this is not easy. Real three-dimensional objects may carry different meanings also, when view from different aspects. The majority of my spatial paintings are real stairs at the same time. This spatial form using the manifestation of repetition is clearly about time. Its rungs are keys on the keyboard of time. Columns and series of columns, which are also recurring themes in my paintings, fulfil the same purpose; although, due to their repetitive form, casting shadows and reflections are also types of timeequations. We know the relation between the flow of time and of water—you cannot step into the same river twice—, and, of course, reflections dwelling in water are also guardians of time. It is only one step from reflections to symmetries. I use the plural, because there are many symmetries; their common attribute, however, is that they are in close kinship to time. While I was searching for the relation between my own works and time, I also had to face the Augustinian dilemma: what is time? If it is not asked, I know exactly what it is. When I have to express it in words, however, I find myself incapable. I am a visual artist; so if I cannot do it in words, I can try to draw it. When I draw architectural impossibilities, I am clearly attempting to visualize spatial paradoxes that are never independent of time. They are levels of reality and imagination built on each other, whose intertwined, peculiar kinks often evoke the illusion of infinity—or of timelessness. I have collected—mostly instinctively, I must admit—the visual manifestations of my perceptions related to time in each of my works under various titles found on the annexed pages. Seeing them together, the essential role of time, visualized time, was made obvious to me also only in this way, in the metaphysical aura of their sequence. It may well be that I call it “time” only in lack of a better word. Those who realize that looking into Heraclitus’ proverbial river they no longer see the reflection of their own face may call them melancholy or the enigmatic sadness of geometry, or perhaps the majestic solitude of symmetries, or the eternal doubt dwelling in reflections—or perhaps they will notice the hopeless, Platonic relationship of perspectives to infinity.

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Crossroads

copperplate etching 1998.

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1997.

V&A poster of a poster exhibition in Victoria and Albert Museum


“Through Madame Chauchat’s body Hans Castorp sees, So train us to be our own witnesses.” József Attila: Welcome to Thomas Mann

Surányi Mihály

Kerekes Gábor and us, Hans Castorps Nessim Galéria www.nessim.hu

As the doctor of the Magic Mountain seizes the X-ray image of Madame Chauchat’s body and places it against the illuminator and perhaps murmurs to himself, “Ecce homo”, so does Kerekes Gábor show us the world in which we live. As the doctor is awed by the complexity and structure of the body with which he is occupied, although he knows his enthusiasm must be curbed by accuracy, so can this gesture be grasped in Kerekes’s art. Kerekes illuminates the place where we have pitched our tent, as well as our emotions with which we fill it; he reckons our bodies and thoughts, whether they orbit around a birthday or infinity itself. For him, the outside world is an opportunity whose elements he can use to build an entirely new universe. In such a universe, we must admit, the images of an endless spiral, a system of blood vessels and a linen spinning factory can co-exist.


RO1-12


O.R.-18


Heni


K erekes

As they emerge, recreated, from Kerekes’s hands, they point far beyond themselves; what they truly point towards are our common human treasures. Kerekes appeared in the 70’s, owing to a Voigtlander camera received as a present, and hit a unique note even within the neo-avant-garde generation of the time. He was keenly aware what the type of photography was that he did not want to cultivate. It surrounded him. He wanted something different. He wanted specific, clear, lucid statements in the language of photography. Which is what he has been working on up to this day. He started out as a photojournalist, and magazines quickly noted this fresh-eyed contributor. He continued to work for ten years as a photojournalist, creating such series on the side which grasped, with razor-sharp perception, the prevalent sentiment of the times, all the while surpassing the boundaries of industrial landscape-themed photography, completing it with brand new, unusual and utterly human dimensions. Little of his work as a photojournalist has survived, most of it succumbing to demise during the 80’s when, in the second third of the decade, he did not even pick up his camera for a few years. From the third third of the 80’s, however, he undertook to express in the language of photography all the concepts, objects, notions and ideals that we deem fundamental in our lives.

G ábor

and

us

H ans

C astorps

How can “stoneness” be expressed most accurately in the language of photography? How can a sphere be depicted in such a way that it be valid? He attempted to provide answers to these and similar questions, and the notions whose photographic manifestations he was seeking were, indeed, the notions of alchemy. From the beginning of the 2000’s, in the most literal sense, Kerekes began to view the world from even farther away. He created a world of imagery with the two “Over Roswell” series and the “Fly Off” material, which, by nature, would take a more remote aspect of our world. These are juxtaposed compositions of collages of imagery captured by satellites. No more, no less. Here we are, at the beginning of the 21st century, and these are the patterns that are drawn by our loved/unloved culture on the surface of the Earth. It is inevitable that images of the Nazca lines and their utter mystery are evoked in our minds. Kerekes does not circumvent this kind of mysteriousness; although this is not what he is interested in. Rather, it is the strict geometrical approach, the photography using the mere clippings, and its achievements evoking constructivism. Lucid expression. With respect to its execution and composition, this series is close to the drawings and copper engravings; its world, however, is evidently akin to the line of thought which Kerekes has been representing since the 70’s and 80’s, and whose first images are present already in the lacework-like depictions of the forlorn buildings outlined in the winter landscape. This is the very, strict creative attitude that can be traced since his first images—this perfection of thought and expression, this sense of proportionality that makes Kerekes Gábor, among others, one of the salient creators of contemporary Hungarian photography: an artist, whose pictures can be found in the greatest of collections both in Europe and overseas.

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Head cut


Lines


Stone ball


Flax-mill


Bus stop


“It is a fact that there are many talented Hungarian mathematicians, which can be explained by tradition. This tradition reaches back to the Bolyais. Bolyai János is a cultural hero in Hungary.” Lax Péter, mathematician, Wolf and Abel Prize winner

Oláh Anna

The Polyhistor Bolyais Bolyai Farkas and his son Bolyai János are among the most excellent mathematicians of all time. Bolyai János’s name became known world-wide due to his revolutionization of the thousand-year-old theorems of Euclidean geometry. He describes his non-Euclidean geometry in his work on geometry entitled “Appendix”, which has been nominated by the Hungarian UNESCO Committee to be listed in “Memory of the World.” Three Hungarian works have been inscribed on the list: Tihanyi Kálmán’s 1926 Patent Application “Radioskop,” The Bibliotheca Corviniana Collection, and Tabula Hungariae, Hungary’s first printed map. The Bolyais, however, did not pursue mathematics alone on a high level; they excelled in other sciences and forms of art as well.


He was born

in the Transylvanian village of Bolya in 1775. He could extract the root of a fourteen-digit number in his head at the age of nine, and he was able to speak, read and write in six languages at the age of twelve. His own professors in virtually any discipline of science hoped to see him as their successor. From theology to mathematics, fine arts, languages, drama, and music all interested him just the same. At the age of twenty, he embarked on a journey to study abroad, in Göttingen. The polyhistor professors teaching there, many of whom were renowned scientists and inventors of the time, played a role primarily in providing direction in his obtaining knowledge. Bolyai Farkas spent three years at this university, where the development of a mind for the natural sciences was facilitated by the boundless freedom of acquiring knowledge. Following such introduction, it is no wonder that, in the world of universal discoveries and in an intellectual freedom previously unknown to him, Bolyai gained possession of such scientific preparedness and creative methods that in the beginning of the 1800’s made him an expert in virtually all areas of the natural sciences. According to his son János, in the prime of his life, Bolyai Farkas was the most renowned “gardener, forester, wine-maker, wine-healer, general and electrifying doctor of the sick, so great that, abandoning the regular doctors, many came to him for successful healing”. Returning to his homeland, he implemented on his estate the most up-to-date principles of the end of the 18th century in the areas of geometrics, geology, meteorology, physics and chemistry. Bolyai, in order to improve his wine “proven for all methods of healing”, he describes countless wine production and processing methods that had been used up to this day, although scientific explanation for them was not yet available at the time, they were only used in practice based on tradition. At his teacher’s quarters in a small, arched room in Marosvásárhely, Bolyai Farkas not only taught but undertook to heal the sick also. For decades, hardly had the glass door opening to the garden been closed by a visitor before another one knocked on it. The medical research of Bolyai Farkas is most significant in the areas that require a thorough knowledge of the natural sciences—primarily that of physics and chemistry. He was approached by the sick not foremostly as a physician but as a physicist. What distinguished the healing methods of a physicist from those of a physician is quite obvious. While

Bolyai Farkas

Bolyai Farkas, the mathematician, gardener, wine-maker, furnace-builder and healer

a medical doctor tried to influence his patient’s health with medication, in today’s medical lingo, “internally” , a physicist attempted to do so by the use of some form of tool or equipment, “externally”. In Bolyai’s range of tools, the most prominent place was occupied by some sort of “electric machine”, later “galvanism”, and last but not least “the magnetizer”, which he implemented in his attempts to heal those suffering from neurological or psychosomatic diseases. Heat, light and electricity are such factors which determine and influence the operation of a living organism. Bolyai Farkas was turned into a “miracle healer” by his achievements on the border between biology and physics. In today’s classification, Bolyai Farkas could be viewed as a biophysicist or a bio-chemist. Throughout his life, he monitored his friends’ and students’ health and never failed to draw their attention to the latest innovations and discoveries of medicine, if they could benefit from it. In his correspondence, we find numerous health advice, descriptions of and recipes for medicine, as well as instructions for prevention during times of epidemics. Few are familiar with Bolyai Farkas’s thermology related studies, despite the fact that virtually the only completed, large-volume—over 100 pages—study of his manuscript legacy summarizes his furnace-building activity of nearly a half a century. We can assert that he can be considered the first Hungarian heating-system designer and engineer, the pioneering figure of the engineering literature in the Hungarian language, as well as the creator of the first Hungarian dictionary of heating methodology. His son’s comments suggest that he built some furnaces by his own hands. We can see some of them at the Bolyai Museum in Marosvásárhely. In the course of his life, Bolyai Farkas penned, in addition to those in mathematics, countless comments on the natural sciences, literature, art and music. In many areas, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, forestry and heating methodology, he was a pioneering figure of the creation of a Hungarian professional dictionary. He took an active role in the

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« in the

cultivation of the Hungarian language and public culture gaining impetus throughout Transylvania. He wrote dramas and translated literary works from English to Hungarian. He deemed it important to inform people in the midst of disastrous health-related problems. Among his manuscripts we find writings promoting important knowledge related to infant care, nursing, protection against pests and epidemics (such as cholera). He composed eulogies and speeches for school opening, and he was assigned to greet on behalf of Marosvásárhely the Emperor Franz Joseph during his visit to the city.

Bolyai jános He was born on December 15, 1802, in Kolozsvár (in Transylvania). His father monitored his spiritual, intellectual and physical development with the most modern of pedagogical principles.

creating a new world from nothing

At the age of six, he learned to read

almost overnight; at the age of seven he plays the violin and is taught the German language. At the age of nine, his father commences his organized, regular education by selecting the best tutors from among the university students to instruct him at the house. He had a great sense of languages, while at the same time making breathtaking progress in mathematics. His father enrols him, at the age of twelve, to the college of Marosvásárhely. At this time he is well familiar with two- and three-dimensional geometry, trigonometry, and the theory of conical cross-sections in analytical geometry. On many occasions, his father takes him to his lectures to the older students. In fact, according to testimonies by his contemporaries, he held the mathematics lectures to the higher-grade students in substitution for his father on sick-leave. Farkas had been fostering plans to ask his friend from youth, the famous mathematician of the times, C. F. Gauss, to supervise János’s the professional education. Seeing his son’s extraordinary mathematical talent, his determination is confirmed. At the time of finishing his high school studies, János is merely fifteen years old. At this time, Farkas sends a letter to Gauss in Göttingen, describing his son’s mathematical talent and proceeding to request to place him for a period of three years of study with the Gauss family. No response arrives. No other choice is left but to leave János at the college in Marosvásárhely. One year later, finding no suitable university in Transylvania to match his son’s mathematical talent, Farkas sends his son to the Royal Engineering College in Vienna. According to his professors, János was the most talented in his class. His years in Vienna were memorable to him; he was captivated by theatre and opera. He is said to have been a virtuoso violinist. He began to delve into studying parallels around this time, despite his father’s desperate attempt to divert his attention from the problem. Farkas deemed the efforts unproductive, as his own time and energy had been consumed by them. Still, János spends more and more time with the examination of mathematical problems. Upon conclusion of his studies, he is appointed to the rank of sublieutenant and commissioned to Temesvár (in Transylvania). Two months later, he pens the renowned “Temesvár Lines”, in which he notifies his father that he is in possession of a discovery of world-wide importance. He continues to improve and perfect his theory, and during his visit to Marosvásárhely in February 1825, he presents his proposal regarding the “absolutely true science of space”.

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T he

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Scientific preliminaries Humans

have been interested in their surrounding environment in an increasing extent since the oldest of times. Familiarity with Time and Space, orientation in them, the simpler systems they are comprised of, the relations between them and their recurring regularities has become the indispensable tool of moving, acting Man. In their efforts to study these abstract concepts, ancient philosophers established entire schools. The experiences gained during antiquity were summarized in a volume in the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century B.C. by Euclid in his Elements. Euclid established the “plumb lines”, that is, the basic truths, axioms, and postulates that serve as bases, via arguments and proofs, for ensuing new propositions and theorems, and which made the more accurate and detailed description of reality possible. Thus, Euclid’s studies were the Alpha and Omega of geometry for two thousand years. The axioms he set forth, however, reflect only one possible way of describing reality available through empirical perception. Axioms and postulates are such important statements that we do not wish to prove but accept by convention. We use them for proving other propositions; proving the theorems of geometry would be utterly impossible without them. With the development of the science of mathematics, more and more theorems have been born, which have made the description of an increasing number of natural-scientific phenomena possible. In this way, newer and newer knowledge, branches of science and practical applications could come about. For all of these, the Euclidean axioms served as the premises. However, there is one among them, Axiom 11 (in other editions, Postulate 5), which relates to the establishment of the notion of parallelism. According to one of its versions: “parallel lines are lines lying on the same plane that are, extended infinitely, never intersect.” Doubts arose in mathematicians regarding the parallel axiom, as “infinite” falls outside our perceptible world, and the acceptance as true of propositions about infinity without proof results in doubt with respect to the results of ensuing theorems. Bolyai János, whose mathematical talent surfaces already in childhood, was aware, owing to his father, the problems and thousand-year-old dilemmas related to Euclid’s Axiom 11 and found himself devoting an increasing amount of time to dealing with the problem. As a recently graduated military engineer, he notified his father in 1823 by mail about having found the solution searched for two thousand years and having made a revolutionary discovery. He described his geometric discoveries, in his own words, as follows: “Out of nothing I have created a strange new universe. ” This, perhaps, is the most commonly quoted sentence in the history of Hungarian mathematical science.

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The set of compasses Bolyai János used for drawing the diagrams of APPENDIX. Bolyai Museum, Marosvásárhely. (In Transylvania, now Romania)


The strange new world of

Bolyai János How is Bolyai’s “new world” different from Euclid’s world? Bolyai sensed that the trueness or falseness of Axiom 11 could not be determined. Subsequently, he tried to “take out”, that is, to ignore, Number 11 from among the Axioms used for geometric proofs. He asserted that by these propositions new structures of space can be created (such as triangles the sum of whose angles can be less than 180o), different from those in Euclidean space (where the sum of the angles of a triangle is always 180o). The geometry thus emerging, that is, the one in which Axiom 11 is not used for proving other theorems and which is thus independent of the trueness or falseness of Axiom 11, was named “absolute geometry” by Bolyai. Bolyai János’s theory then cancelled the exclusiveness of the Euclidean view of space, transformed man’s thousand-year-old mindset relating to space and facilitated the elaboration of new geometries. It redirected the development of other sciences also, contributing to the significant scientific discoveries of the modern age (e. g. mechanics, astronomy, physics, space research and philosophy). It is also true, Bolyai János shares his feat related to the establishment of non-Euclidian geometry with the Russian mathematician Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski who, in 1829-1830, published his theory in which he laid the foundations of a similar non-Euclidean geometry. Bolyai János’s absolute geometry includes, in different approaches and value systems, the theorems of both Euclid and Lobachevski. Experts symbolically describe and compare with each other these three kinds of geometries by saying that if Euclid’s theorems are the thesis, Lobachevski’s geometry is the antithesis and Bolyai’s theorems are the synthesis. Although Bolyai and Lobachevski were contemporaries, they never met. Nevertheless, years after their publication, János encountered Lobachevski’s theory, but Lobachevski never knew about his work. Today, the names of both of its founders are remembered by the moniker of the non-Euclidian branch of this science— Bolyai-Lobachevski geometry.

T he Appendix

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Father and son decided to publish the completed work in print. The father, Farkas, had just concluded his own large-scale mathematical work, “Tentamen”. They decided to publish János’s work, which comprised only twenty-eight pages, as an appendix to his father’s work, which is why it has claimed its place in mathematical literature by this title. Farkas sent a copy of this small volume to Gauss in Göttingen with a request to provide an opinion. Gauss never received the volume, so Farkas sent him another copy by one of his students a year later. Then Gauss had no choice left to him but to respond. Here is an excerpt from the letter that profoundly influenced the fate of Bolyai János’s life and which has been most extensively analysed in the history of mathematics.


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The Appendix

“If I commenced by saying that I am unable to praise this work, you would certainly be surprised for a moment. But I cannot say otherwise. To praise it would be to praise myself. Indeed the whole contents of the work, the path taken by your son, the results to which he is led, coincide almost entirely with my meditations, which have occupied my mind partly for the last thirty or thirty-five years. So I remained quite stupefied. So far as my own work is concerned, of which up till now I have put little on paper, my intention was not to let it be published during my lifetime. ... I have found very few people who could regard with any special interest what I communicated to them on this subject. ...it was my idea to write down all this later so that at least it should not perish with me. It is therefore a pleasant surprise for me that I am spared this trouble, and I am very glad that it is just the son of my old friend, who takes the precedence of me in such a remarkable manner.” Gauss, then, did not esteem the work worthy of public acknowledgement and reserved the right of precedence to himself. This caused disappointment to János which he was unable to recover from. Acknowledgement failed to be bestowed on him from elsewhere also; his thoughts, well ahead of his time, remained without understanding. Bolyai János never received acknowledgement for his mathematical work during his lifetime. He asked for his retirement and retreated to Transylvania, to an abandoned village, where he lived as a recluse, hiding from the world, for twelve more years. Bolyai’s epoch-making geometric work came to a demise with his own, vanishing into obscurity. The only copy of the “Appendix” that was seen by a foreign expert was one found among Gauss’ possessions in Göttingen, where it had lain for years without ever being noted. A famous mathematician of the times, J. Hoüel published it in French in Bordeaux in 1867. How it befell on him to take possession of it remains unclear. A few decades after its French publication, the “Appendix” began to attract worldwide interest. In addition to the French, the Italian, German and English versions appeared, as well as, subsequently, ever newer ones. By the 1870’s absolute geometry and the “Appendix” had become known from Rome to Texas, from Tokyo to Zaragoza.

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“For a few years, the attention of the geometers of the whole of Europe has been turned towards the discoveries of two Hungarian scientists, the Bolyais, father and son, which, being thorough studies, provide sharp lucidity on some of the basic, controversial questions of long of geometry. [‌] The significant study recording the real theory of parallels can be attributed to the son Bolyai, and which contains only a fragment of the studies that this deep and original mind has conducted in this issue of great extent and complexity.â€? Baldassare Boncompagni, mathematician, president of the department of mathematics of the Scientific University of Rome

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TABULA APPENDICIS The table of Bolyai János’s freehand drawings that he attached to his own working copy of APPENDIX. Notes on the margin, a diagram inserted later and holes on the page. These suggest that during the plague the book was disinfected by the use of chloride fume.

Salvation T heory It is lesser known that Bolyai János fostered interest in writing an encyclopaedic work also. The title of his contemplated great work was to be “Salvation Theory”. It was to express that he found the purpose of his life increasingly in serving the call of helping humankind to attain more happiness and a higher public good. By the testimony of over 15,000 pages of his manuscript heritage, he opined that a utopist social structure can never be achieved without knowledge and the sciences. To this end, he started out by attempting to organize and classify the sciences. He proceeded along the lines of a treestructure, from the most generic towards the more specific, defining the parameters of ever narrowing, specific branches of science. He called each scientific area a study. He expounded on his theories related to, among others, mathematics, history, the theoretical and applied natural sciences (e. g. tool studies, furnace-studies, candlestudies), economy, arts, and music. Recent studies prove that his ideas related to study correspond with the concept of the knowledge-based society so widely referred to today. He may even have expressed more on the societal significance of knowledge than what is inferred by the notion today. His plans for the work’s publication fell through; he was able to expand on only a few topics. In acknowledgement of his scientific achievements, a crater of the Moon was named after him, and the 1,441th discovered minor planet was also given his name.

“Bolyai János is the greatest figure of Hungarian science; many think he is the Copernicus of ge-ometry. In his 26-page work published in 1831 and generally referred to as the “Appendix” […] he made a revolutionary achievement by the creation of the so-called non-Euclidean geometry. With this work, Bolyai János broke the monopoly of Euclidean geometry and paved the way for humanity to think about space in a different fashion. Through his findings in axiomatic thinking Bolyai considerably formed the history of mathematics as a whole. The development of modern mathematics in the 19th and 20th centuries can, to a large extent, be attributed to Bolyai János’s discovery.” Prékopa András, mathematician, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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THE

Gömböc debuted on the front page of Mathematical In-

Domokos Gábor and Várkonyi Péter

telligencer in 2006. The last time a Hungarian invention, the Rubik cube, was featured on the front page of the magazine was in 1979. “Gömböc” is the first known homogenous object with one stable and one unstable equilibrium point, thus two equilibria altogether, on a horizontal surface. It can be proven that no object with less than two equilibria exists. If placed on a horizontal surface in an arbitrary position the Gömböc returns to the stable equilibrium point, similarly to “weeble” toys. However, weebles are not homogeneous bodies, as they are made of at least two different materials, one of which serves as the weight on the bottom. Gömböc, on the other hand, consists of one homogeneous material, thus the shape itself accounts for self-righting. With the creation of Gömböc, the proposition of one of the most renowned mathematicians Vladimir Igoryevich Arnold was proven, whereby a homogeneous body exists that has fewer than four equilibria. Its inventors are professors at the Department of Mathematics, Materials and Structures at the Technical University of Budapest, Domokos Gábor and Várkonyi Péter. The significance of Gömböc points beyond mathematics, and can be associated to the phenomenon of turtle shells. The Gömböc shape is very sensitive (a small amount of debris, oil, wearing or the unevenness of the surface it lies on will cause it to lose its unique property).


www.gomboc.eu

It is probably due to its sensitivity that spontaneous natural forms (e.g. pebbles) are almost never have this sort of shape. On the other hand evolution seems to have created similar forms: one example is the Indian star tortoise. The highly domed shell helps the animal in self-righting. Gömböc can be considered a sort of “stem-shape”—if we classify shapes by the number and type of their equilibria when placed on a horizontal surface, all classes can be generated from the Gömböc. However, the reverse is not true: the existence of the Gömböc cannot be deduced from the existence of other shapes. This property shows analogy to the “stem-cells” in biology: stem-cells can transform into arbitrary specialized cells, however they cannot be created from the specialized ones. Gömböc has become part of the curriculum at Harvard University, lectures have been presented on it at Cambridge and Princeton Universities, and The New York Times listed it as one of the 70 most interesting inventions in the world. Gömböc will be featured at the Hungarian pavilion at the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai.

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Mezei Ferenc is a Hungarian physicist, and pioneer of finding new methods for neutron scattering, proposed first the idea of the long pulse spallation source in 1994.

Spallation -

the Safe Reaction Hungary stands a good chance for the ESS (European Spallation Source) to be built in Debrecen. The concept of the so-called long pulse neutron sources has been developed by Mezei Ferenc, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Regardless of where the neutron centre is going to be constructed, it is certain that it will be done according to his concept. Similar neutron sources already exist in Japan and the US; however, these are short pulse sources. The performance of these short pulse sources is exceeded by the long pulse neutron source in almost all respects, and it is far more cost-efficient as well. Mezei Ferenc and Rosta L谩szl贸 talk about why neutron research is important, what it is good for, what neutrons can be used for, what spallation means and what the importance of such a research centre is.


What Can Neutrons Be Used For? To put it simply, neutrons can be used for observing atoms and their movement in matters. In other words, by exaggerating a little, processes at atomic level can be filmed. Although atoms can be viewed by X-rays as well, atomic and molecular movements cannot. X-ray is cheaper, therefore it is used more, but it is not suitable for certain things; for example, hydrogen can only be viewed by neutrons. But the majority of what we know about magnetism is also due to neutrons. For example, knowledge about magnetism of matters at atomic level is crucial in computer technology. The most important task of neutron research is the analysis of the structure of matters, and this requires high intensity neutron sources. Neutrons are bound in the atom (it is well-known that atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons). A neutron can be released from the nucleus by nuclear fission (in a nuclear reactor) or by spallation. Producing free neutrons and joining them in a single beam provides the possibility for the analysis of the structures of materials. In all neutron experiments, when a neutron moving in a given direction impinges on an object, it is either absorbed by the object or its direction and its velocity are changed. These three factors can be measured and thus assumptions can be made about the structure of the matter. Since neutrons are neutral particles (they have no electric charge), they can penetrate deep into the matter in a non-destructive way, and thus organic matters can also be examined with high intensity neutron beams without becoming damaged. The benefit of neutron research in brief is that it helps us understand how the micro-world functions. Biology is a very rapidly growing field: 10-15 years ago, the share of biology in neutron research used to be 2-3 percent; today it is estimated to be 15-20 percent. Neutron beams replace X-ray more and more also in medical research. But it is used in many other fields, such as in nanotechnology, the automotive industry, food security and the plastic industry.

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S pallation

-

the

safe

reaction

The Process of Spallation Neutrons, therefore, can either be produced by chain-reaction in nuclear reactors or by spallation. If a heavy atom is bombarded with a very high speed and very high intensity proton particle beam, it will smash or shatter an atom of any weight. This shattering is called spallation. In an atom, the numbers of protons and neutrons are not equal; the heavier the element the higher the number of redundant neutrons is in it, compared to the number of protons. If such a nucleus is smashed, the nucleus disintegrates into smaller parts, the neutron-proton proportion gets more even and free neutrons are obtained. Almost the same results can be achieved by spallation as by fission in chain-reaction; however, spallation can be done to any type of nucleus, whereas fission chain-reaction only works with a few special isotopes. The first step of spallation is to separate the electron from the hydrogen of water (by an ionization process) and thus release the proton. The free proton is then accelerated in a long linear accelerator, and this proton particle, which has a velocity close to the velocity of light, impinges on the nucleus of a heavy metal target (e.g. mercury or wolfram) and explodes it. That is, the process of spallation is done by accelerated protons as a result of which neutrons are scattered in every direction; these neutrons are channeled out through a pipe. Twenty-two neutron beam lines are planned to emerge from the target station in ESS. These neutron beam lines will be lead to a distance of 50-100 meters and during this time of flight the velocity of neutrons can also be measured. Different neutron scattering instruments will be placed on the twenty-two neutron beam lines and the actual analysis of the structure of matter is done by these instruments – used as “microscopes� at atomic level. There is no difference between the neutrons produced in a nuclear reactor or the neutrons produced in a spallation source; however, there are significant differences between the processes. One of the advantages that spallation has over nuclear reactors is that the disintegrating atoms produce neither fissile material (nuclear bombs cannot be made of them) nor highly radioactive waste, therefore it is much more likely to be socially accepted. The other advantage is that the spallation process produces more neutrons, and they are produced in a pulsed way; thus, the nature of analyses of their interaction with matter can be improved. Compared to nuclear reactors, results in research tasks can be a hundred and in certain cases a thousand times better. ESS will enable researchers to carry out experiments that have not been possible before. For example, extremely thin organic or magnetic film layers could be studied or the drug functions in experimental pharmaceuticals produced in very small quantities could be understood at atomic level.

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History of neutron research and the preparation of ESS; that is the European Spallation Source

Originally, neutrons were obtained in nuclear reactors as byproducts. The first nuclear reactor that primarily focused on producing neutron beams and materials research was built in 1958 in Canada. The so far most successful neutron research centre, ILL started in 1972 in Grenoble, and it has produced ten times as many neutrons as the first Canadian centre has. During the past 30 years, a community of several thousands of researchers has been formed that uses neutrons on a regular basis. The aim is to facilitate the work of these researchers on the long run by creating working conditions as good as possible and by providing them with a constant access to neutron sources. At the end of the 20th century, after spallation technology had been developed, OECD, an organisation of developed countries, designated the construction of three research centres; these new generation neutron sources have already been built in Japan and in the US. European reactors have worn out; the oldest ones are 30-40 years old, and several ones had to be closed down already. The Asian and North-American competitions have more developed facilities than the “old continent �. As a result, Europe is very much in need of new facilities that could replace old ones, as well as compete with the new-technology-based Japanese and American centres. The new European facility has to serve the whole of Europe at least 4,000 researchers. Besides Hungary, Sweden and Spain are also competing to host the ESS. The chances of the possible Hungarian location are increased by the fact that no large scale facilities have yet been installed in the new European member states. The concerned scientific areas (material sciences, biotechnology, medical sciences) are well developed in Hungary, the international recognition of our experts is good-that is, chances are high in this competition. The research base and the knowledge are given in Hungary. The concept of the ESS was invented by Mezei Ferenc and the design of the future European neutron source was outlined according to his suggestions. This neutron source is a great deal more efficient than the already operating Japanese or American sources, while its costs and risks are much lower. Debrecen (where the ESS is planned to be built) has a significant base of research and development. Firstly, MTA ATOMKI, the research institute for nuclear research is based here and has been operating successfully in the past fifty years; thus, it can host the team that will start the ESS with considerable scientific background and appropriate experience in operation. And secondly, the University of Debrecen, the second largest university in Hungary, can help host the ESS with an extensive knowledge base, research capacity and supply of professionals.

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The word “coach” has several senses in the English language; one mean-

ing comes from Hungarian. “Kocsi” (meaning, “from Kocs”), refers to cars and carts, which were developed in the town by the same name. The appellation of this contraption comes from the place where it was invented and from where it was derived in other languages, such as kotschi, kutsche in German, coche in French, coccio in Italian, goetse in Flemish, koczi in Polish, koczy in Czech, and kusk in Swedish. The structure of a light, little cart is monickered “majar” (referring to “Magyar”) in the area of the Caucasian and Asia Minor. The title, The Coach, carries all the meanings we represent: Hungarian art and soul. The Coach travels from person to person, from the past to the present, carrying the fame and images of all the renowned Hungarian works of art, scientific discoveries, historical events, literary works, and films, as well as our music, our ethnography; the heritages of the world. It carries its precious cargo throughout the earth, demonstrating all that it used to mean, and what it means today, to think in Hungarian, to be Hungarian.

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Kovรกcs Tibor: Fairy Dance


We believe that the world is one but has six and a half thousand million faces. There are people who make their lives works of art, and others who create to feel alive. Sooner or later everybody will become member of the first group.

The Coach  

Hungarian Art & Soul Magazine

The Coach  

Hungarian Art & Soul Magazine

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