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Sárosi Bálint: Authentic Folk Music. This is the text for Sárosi’s (born in Transylvania, 1925) presentation in 2006 when he officially took his seat as a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Arts. He refers to Bartók’s three categories of folk songs (A, B, C) and argues against the notion that: “Hungarian nóta (composed folk-like songs) are of lesser value, or are even worthless and damaging”. Later on Sárosi says: “Folksong – is what the folk feel is their own song – not what is in the text books or popularizing publications…it is valuable because…it is part of tradition, expresses a situation, a mood, a memory, it relaxes, conveys a message, eases tension and last, but not least: it amuses and entertains”…He also examines the national music movement (roughly the last half of the 1800s), Gypsy musicians and the Gypsy band and their functions and place in Hungarian society and Hungarian music history.
Interview with Sikentáncz Szilveszter – president of the [Hungarian] Heritage Children’s Folkore Association. The Association was founded in 1990 to help secure and support the existence and organization of children’s and youth folk dance groups following the changes of government at the time. The Association started with 29 groups and 44 individual members. Today there are 150 groups and 80 individual members in Hungary and Hungarian communities outside of Hungary’s borders. This year some 60 events (festivals, competitions, etc) are planned in over 30 locations. The interview also discusses the importance, and ups and downs of building a community in a dance group. By Fodor Zsófia.
Kóka Rozália’ series: On History’s Path – diaries, letters, memories. Here is a segment from the life of the below-mentioned Lőrincz Gergely: on the period between 1941 and 1945. After arriving from Bukovina in 1941 with his family, they lived for three and a half years during WWII in the village of Istenes (today Meggyes/Višnjevac) in Serbia’s Bačka region. At the end of 1944 they had to flee from Istenes. They were placed for several months in the village of Szikics/Lovćenac (Serbia), then transported to the town of Baja (Hungary) in February of 1945, when Lőrincz Gergely was 13 years old.
Bukovina Life Stories – Kóka Rozália’s new series. Lőrincz Gergely’s lifestory. He was born Nyisztor Gergely in the village of Istensegíts/Țibeni in Bukovina, Romania in 1932. When his family was expelled from Romania with the other Bukovina Hungarians in 1941 – the Hungarian authorities changed his family name to Lőrincz because they thought Nyisztor didn’t sound Hungarian enough. As an adult he emigrated, lived and worked in Yugoslavia, Belgium and Germany. While still living in Germany he decided to write down the old Székely words and expressions he remembered. There were enough of them to fill a book which was published in 2014, entitled "Székely édesanyám sok szép szava” [My Székely mother’s beautiful words].
Instrumental Dance Music of Transylvania’s Nyárád/Niraj River Region. The Niraj (Hungarian: Nyárád) is a river in the Gurghiu Mountains, Mureș County, northern Romania. This is a study of folk music collection work done in this region by Seprődi János in 1908 and Bartók Béla in 1914: “...when examined in relation to one another they provide the most complete picture of traditional dance music at the time.” Basically the traditional cycle of dances done then was composed of: csűrdöngölő (or verbunk – a men’s dance), and couple dances: jártatós, forgatós, sebes csárdás (locally the dances were known by a wide variety of names). The dance music was played on violin, cymbalom and clarinet with or without other stringed instruments. “...The effects of modern life and culture began to change the traditional music (instruments used, the bands) and dances in this region, as all over the Hungarian language area, starting from the second half of the 20th century...” By Salamon Soma, Lecturer - Folk Music Department, Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.
A story about a street in the Transylvanian village of Szék known as "Székely utca”. Until the mid 1980s, twice a year (around Pentecost and before August 24th – Saint Bertalan Day) artisans arrived from the village of Korond (at least 100 km to the east) by horse drawn wagon to sell the famous Korond pottery, which was essential in every Szék household THEN. Unfortunately that time has passed. By Széki Soós János.
Hungarian photographer Molnár Zoltán’s photos from his series called "Víz” [water] are presented in this issue of folkMAGazin. These were taken between 1999 and 2018 in Brazil, France, Turkey, Spain, Macedonia and Hungary of people who live near water – about their connection to water in nature, to the rain forests, to the world and life. The aim of the series was to show man’s relationship to water and ecological systems on the individual or community level. By Molnár Zoltán.
Interview with architect, ethnographer Kerner Gábor (born 1951, Miskolc, Hungary). He grew up Miskolc and as a teenager began working at the Miskolc City Planning Department. He moved to Budapest (circa 1970) and was hired to work at the Hungarian Historical Building Protection Agency, where he worked for two decades. During this time he was also an avid participant in the dance house movement. In 1989 Kerner moved to the village of Kővágóörs in Western Hungary’s Káli Basin where he had bought and restored a peasant house. He lived there until 2017. In Kővágóörs he was active in local government and numerous projects for preserving local architecture. There is discussion of being considered a “newcomer” in the village milieu. Now he lives in the town of Keszthely. He describes a recent project surrounding his new publication co-authored with Szilágyi Mária (2019) on traditional architecture of the larger Szeged region which extends into three countries: Hungary, Serbia and Romania. By Grozdits Károly.
New Publication: Almási István: "Most jöttem Erdélyből” [I just arrived from Transylvania]. Almási István, a Transylvanian folk music researcher who was born and still lives in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, Romania – where he completed his studies, was a student of Jagamas János and an employee of the Folklore Institute. His first collection trip was in 1953 to the village of Türe in Transylvania’s Kalotaszeg region. The book contains 17 studies – from amongst Almási’s recent lectures, papers, publications. It was published in Hungary by the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA) in 2019. Two recommendations by Domokos Mária and Fehér Anikó.
Bartók Béla: Gypsy music? Hungarian music? (Hungarian folksongs on the German music market) (excerpts) "...what you know as Gypsy music, is not Gypsy music, because it’s Hungarian music: newer Hungarian folk-like composed music, which is played by Gypsy musicians (because, according to tradition, playing music for money is not an upper class thing). The reason this is Hungarian music, is because almost without exception, it was composed by Hungarian gentlemen...”. "... the folk-like composed music and the peasant music have influenced one-another, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t differentiate one from the other...” ”...the simplest village Gypsy musician plays completely differently from a musician that plays in a city Gypsy band...” From a lecture given by Bartók to the Hungarian Society of Ethnography and was published in Ethnographia 1931 . XLII. 2. Reprinted in 1966 in a collection of Bartók’s writings by Zeneműkiadó, Budapest.
The dowery’s role in Moldavian Hungarian marriage custom. This discussion of doweries and inheritance customs is based on the fact that traditional life in Moldavia is all connected to farming. "In Moldavia...generally the youngest boy inherited his father’s house, the father built houses or helped build houses for the rest of his sons; the daughters were married off. This system was known in Moldavia from feudal times...The groom brought real estate (a house and land, or the means to procure those)...” to a marriage. In some places however, the flax growing land was exclusively inherited by the women. There is mention of how collectivization (under Socialism) affected these traditions since family lands became state lands and could no longer be inherited. By Halász Péter.
Traditional Hungarian foods – Toffee-nut wedding cakes called "Grillázs” or "Pörkölt torta” are made of cooked sugar and nuts which is artfully formed into elaborate shapes such as: baskets of flowers, flower crowns, hens and baby chicks, house and garden, a stag, kissing pair of doves, etc. This article estimates the appearance of these cakes in the peasant tradition at approximately 1900. The master of ceremonies of the wedding brings in the groom’s toffee cake. The new bride smashes the cake. The more pieces it breaks into, the more years the couple will live happily together. Communities in Hungary still known for this tradition are Lajosmizse and Tápióbicske. By Juhász Katalin.
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French folk music researcher and hurdy-gurdy player Claude Flagel died on February 25, 2020 at the age of 88. As a young man he moved from Paris to Belgium where he lived for the rest of life. He was a singer and virtuoso hurdy-gurdy player, performer and music teacher. He collected, researched, promoted and supported not only French and Walloon folk music, but folk music from all over the world. In the 1960s he discovered the folk music of the Carpathian Basin and befriended Novák Ferenc when the Bihari Ensemble was on tour in Belgium. Soon after, Flagel came to Hungary, where he was introduced to Hungarian folk musicians, singers, dancers, folk music researchers and instrument makers and went along on collecting trips to Transylvania. Over the years he released records of Hungarian folk music, made documentary films, invited Hungarian groups to Belgium to perform and organized Hungarian folk dance workshops in Belgium. His enthusiasm and support for Hungarian folk music culture was recognized in 2017 with the Bársony Mihály Award. By Novák Ferenc "Tata".
Recommendation: Sántha Emőke: Kis pacsirta (2015). ISBN: 9789730194999. Published in Transylvania by the Kallós Foundation in Válaszút/Răscruci, Romania. A CD of 34 traditional songs especially for children from Transylvania’s Transdanubia, Mezőség, Felcsík and Kalotaszeg regions and from Moldavia selected by Kallós Zoltán himself before he died. By Fehér Anikó.
Interview with Hungarian folk singer Sebestyén Márta. Had there not been an epidemic, in mid April 2020, Márta would have celebrated 45 years performing with an anniversary concert in Budapest. Here the talented Márta muses on the early days of the dance house movement, young people of the dance house movement today, the family she grew up in and her need for freedom in her work. "I don’t even feel the forty-five years with music....music has given me a continuity. The pure passion of the 16 year old Márti and the joy I still feel today when singing; if that didn’t exist - I would stop singing...” By Grozdits Károly.
Kóka Rozália’ series: On History’s Path – diaries, letters, memories. This writing begins with Rozália’s short summary of the history of the Bukovina Székely Hungarians from 1764 – 1777. After the 1764 massacre in the Transylvanian village of Mádéfalva/Siculeni, some 8000 Székely Hungarians fled to Moldavia, from there in 1776-1777 many families went on to Bukovina and established 5 villages. All of these places are situated in today’s Romania. Here, Bőte Péter (born 1899 Istensegíts/Ţibeni, Bukovina) tells the story as he heard it, of how his village of Istensegíts was founded in 1776-77. Then Gáspár Simon Antal (born 1895. Istensegíts, Bukovina) tells the story as he heard it from the old folks - of how the village of Andrásfalva/Măneuți was founded. As told to Kóka Rozália in 1969 and 1972 respectively.
Life in the village in Bukovina circa 1930. There are two stories here. One is about supper for a very poor family with five children. The supper consisted of polenta with curdled milk, which had to be eaten with the greatest of care and thus appreciated because there was so very little of it to go around. The other story is about neighbors helping out another neighbor who was physically unable to cut the grass in his own field. He mentions the good feeling of working and talking with friends in the process of helping someone out. Excerpts from Lőrincz Gergely: Székely édesanyám sok szép szava [My Székely mother’s many lovely words] Budapest, 2014.
Authentic Folk Music "...Traditional song is not only valuable because it is pentatonic with a descending melody line and perhaps rich ornamentation...but mainly because it’s good for something. It is a part of a custom, expresses a situation or mood; it reminds us of something, calms us, carries a message, relieves tension, and last but not least it entertains us...We cannot discuss traditional Hungarian folk music, folk song or ’nóta’, without emphasizing the role of the Gypsy musicians...The earliest data we have on Gypsy musicians in Hungary is from the end of the 16th century...the music of the Hungarian national movement which accompanied the national dance became inportant from the last third of the 18th century; it had to be virtuoso...the really great period of the Gypsy musicians began after the revolution of 1848-49...but traditionally the Gypsy musician serves: he makes every effort to accomodate the guests. A good Gypsy musician plays his genre tastefully...In Transylvania amongst the village Gypsy musicians there is no trace of the so-called Gypsy-style distorted/exaggerated rhythm...because they play music for dancing..." Excerpts from Sárosi Bálint’s presentation for taking his seat at the MTA Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Arts in 2006.
Students in the Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology of Szeged University went to Transylvania to do field collection work in the spring of 2019. Their goal was to collect material in the region known as Orbiaszék in the far southeastern corner of the Carpathian Basin – in today’s Covasna County, Romania, near the town of Kézdivásárhely/Târgu Secuiesc. They stayed in the village of Csomakörös/Chiuruș, and did collection work in two villages: Gelencse and Haraly/Harale [tiny villages with a Hungarian majority of inhabitiants] and visited several other communities in this rural area where "the roads are not paved and modernization has hardly arrived". Report by Zöldhegyi Villő.
"Swearing – a bad habit the Hungarians have...very long ago Hungarians didn’t use the Lord’s name in vain...most people blame the Turks for the fact that Hungarians swear, but this is not true...When we look at old reported crimes from the Hungarian provincial cities, a third of the fines are for swearing...but by the beginning of the 1800s, swearing was no longer a crime. It spread like wildfire and quickly evolved...” By Györffy István first published in 1922, republished in 1983.
In October 2019 Muzsikás Ensemble performed with guests Kacsó Hanga and Szerényi Béla Jr at the Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodhpur, India. Patrons of this festival are Sir Mick Jagger and Gaj Singh, Maharaja of Merwar-Jodhpur. At the same time two Hungarian photographers Henics Tamás and Kása Béla, old friends of Muzsikás, happened to be in India on a trip photographing traditional musicians and herders in the Rajasthan and Gujarat regions. The photographers were fortunate to be able to meet up with Muzsikás and see them perform at the festival. By Henics Tamás.
The Anthology of Children’s Folk Dance Groups was held in February 2020. This is a showcase of the best folk dance choreographies for Hungarian children’s groups of 2019. Seventeen children’s dance groups were selected to perform at the event held in Szeged, Hungary. "...both on and off stage children are sincere" and this shines through in their performances. Host of the event, Sikentáncz Szilvester said, "...this is not a genre, not a segment of our culture, but our culture itself...it needn’t be guarded, it’s not a prisoner; needn’t be nursed, it’s not sick - instead it must be learned and relearned again and again, and handed on to the next generation.” Report by Fodor Zsófia - includes list of ensembles and choreographies presented.
"A Banda” [The Band] is the name of a folk dance performance by the Háromszék Folk Dance Ensemble and Heveder Band of Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania. The piece - written by Könczei Árpád and Könczei Csongor, directed and choreographed by Könczei Árpád - portrays a wedding, the now legendary bands and traditional dance culture of the Mezőség village of Magyarpalatka/Pălatca in Transylvania. “A Banda” was first performed in 2013; it was redone in 2017. In February 2020 the Ensemble takes it on tour in Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria. Review by Redő Júlia.
Háromszék Folk Dance Ensemble and Heveder Band from Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania performed their dance and music piece entitled “Banda” in Vienna’s MuTh Theatre on February 20th 2020. The piece choreographed by Könczei Árpád presents the traditional music and dance culture of the Transylvanian village of Magyarpalatka/Pălatca. The Vienna performance was organized by Piroska Ferenc of the Transylvanian Hungarians in Austria Association, and Kilyénfalvi Gábor of Vienna’s Délibab Dance Ensemble. "…Fluff free….today’s stage performance was contemporary though unquestionably tradition-based and to our greatest pleasure it beautifully fulfilled its stated mission...” Report by Henics Tamás.
Interview with Sebestyén István – Master of Hungarian Folk Arts. Born in 1955 in Hungary, the youngest of 10 children of a Bukovina Székely family, Sebestyén István carries on the family and Székely tradition of telling tales and singing. "...with my songs and tales I hope people find a better mood..." He is a member of the Székely Association of the village of Kakasd, Tolna County, Hungary, and sings with the Csillagösvény Folk Song Circle. His favorite singer was his mother who "...was not only a beautiful singer, but every note rang straight from her soul". He has released 3 CDs ( "Tréfás székely fonó", "Serkenj, lelkem" and "Szegény ember bőrpuskája") and in 2017 a book entitled "Hálaadás", and is the recipient of numerous awards. By Kurucz Réka, Dec 2019 Kakasd, Hungary.
Remembering Palóc folklore researcher Nagy Zoltán who died on March 5th, 2020. He was born in 1938 in the village of Zabar in Hungary’s Nógrád County and dedicated his life to collecting folk tales in his native Palóc region. His entire collection is housed the audio archives of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, manuscripts are housed in the Museum of Ethnography and the complete collection is also in the Salgótarján Library. Some 15 volumes of his collection work have been published. He was the recipient of numerous local and national awards recognizing his lifework. By Janurik Tímea.
Szőttes Chamber Folk Dance Ensemble received the Hungarian Heritage Award in Budapest in December 2019. Szőttes is based in Pozsony/Bratislava, Slovakia. Their mission since their founding in 1969 has been to search out, present and cultivate Hungarian traditional cuture in Slovakia. They give between 50 and 60 performances each year all over Slovakia, perform regularly at festivals in Slovakia and Hungary, and have travelled to perform in many other foreign countries. Printed here is a summary of the group’s history which was presented at the awards ceremony by dr. Takács András.
Folk dance philosophy. The great Hungarian folk dance researchers applied linguistic theories to the study of folk dance. This article is an exercise in referring to folk dance as ’mother tongue’. The discussion of traditional Hungarian dance, particularly of the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania, leaves out the word "dance" early on; using only "mother tongue" instead. From the beginning of the dance house movement (early 1970s), the traditional village dance masters have been referred to using the scientific term "informant" and it’s their dance knowledge that is considered relevant: the pure, authentic source, in comparison with which, all is measured and judged. By Bethlendi András (Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, Romania. March 31, 2020).
Interview with saxophonist, clarinetist Borbély Mihály upon recent release of a new recording with his band Borbély Műhely. The new record is called "Grenadilla" after the dark wood used to make clarinets and tarogatos. Recently the Hungarian portal JazzMa.hu voted Borbély the best in 3 categories: saxophone, alto sax, clarinet. So, Borbély plays great jazz, but in dancehouse circles he is also well-known for the 4 decades or so he has been (and still is) a member of Vujicsics Ensemble (folk music of former Yugoslavia and Southern Slavic minorities in Hungary). By Nagy Szilvia (first published in Pomázi Polgár Feb. 2020).
The Traditional Hungarian Kitchen and Quarentine Cuisine. During this time of pandemic with its grocery shopping limitations, some begin to think about old cooking practices. The Hungarian pantry of 100 years ago stored: flour, grains of all kinds, beans, onion, garlic, dried peppers, saurkraut, home canned foods, jams, dried fruit, seeds, honey, eggs, fat, bacon, sausage, smoked meat; in the celler were potatoes, root vegetables and cabbage along with seasonal garden vegetables, etc. Peasant household and kitchen practices in Hungary began to change drastically from the end of the 1960s with the appearance of the gas stove/oven, refrigerator, and freezer. Eating what was in season at the moment went into decline. Traditional recipes and cooking tips suggested for quarentine cooking: oven Palóc bean soup, taragon soup, bean soup, sour soup, haluska, sausage dumplings, fried bean patties, potato casserole, kolach, sweet raised-dough squares. By ethnographer Juhász Katalin.
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Reccomendation: Dr. Akócsi Katalin: Régi konyhák falvédői [Old Hungarian Kitchen Wall Hangings]. The volume presents 307 examples of kitchen wall hangings from the collection of Dr. Akócsi Katalin, with analysis by ethnographer Dr. Pilipkó Erzsébet and photos by Kövesdi Róka Lajos – published by the Csopak-Palóznaki Unified Calvinist Religious Community in 2019. Most of the folk kitchen wall hangings are hand embroidered, typically have text and a picture, and fall into 3 categories: (1) those depicting everyday household ideals; (2) those that illustrate themes from popular folky songs or historical events; and (3) those with religious texts and blessings. By S. dr. Lackovits Emőke, ethnographer.
On History’s Path – Kóka Rozália’s column. A letter from ’Ferenczi János minor’ on behalf of the ’orphaned Hungarians of Hadikfalva’ (Bukovina) to Count Széchenyi István written in 1846, describes the Bukovina Hungarians’ hardships since moving to their village some 60 years before. Ferenczi János requests help and support from Count Széchenyi. The letter is written in old Hungarian of the period. The Székely Hungarians that fled the massacre of Madéfalva/Siculeni (Transylvania, today in Romania) in 1764 had previously enjoyed a certain prestige and elevated position as border guards. However, when they were allowed to relocate in Bukovina some 10-20 years after the massacre, they were reduced to the level of serfs.
Interview with ethnographer Juhász Katalin. Researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Ethnography, Katalin is regular contributor to folkMAGazin. She tells about her life and career. Born in the town of Gyoma (Eastern Hungary), after completing elementary school, she studied to be a textile industry engineer in Moscow. Upon returning to Hungary she was obliged to work in that industry for 5 years. In the meantime she had learned to play double bass and had gotten involved in the dance house movement. Following her interest in folklore she went to university and got a degree in ethnography. She also play in a band with her bagpipe player/ethnographer husband Szabó Zoltán. Her areas of interest and research have been numerous, amongst them are: Vallon French ballads, children’s rhymes, Christmas customs in Budapest, traditional cuisine, tradition in the community of Csömör, Hungary. By Grozdits Károly.
New recording: Berka Ensemble – Csángó négy évszak [Four seasons of traditional Csángó life]. A kaleidescope of Hungarian Csángó music from Moldavia reflecting the four seasons in traditional Csángó life. For the last 12 years Berka has been playing for Moldavian dance houses every two weeks at Fonó Music Hall. They are a solid, active, popular Budapest band dedicated to traditional Csángó music. And they’ve done their homework. This is their third recording.
The region known by Hungarians as "Zoboralja” (meaning: at the foot of Zobor Mountain) is located slightly northeast of the town of Nyitra/Nitra in Western Slovakia. Today there are 13 communities that consider themselves to be part of the Zoboralja ethnic region where Hungarian culture is layered in with local Slovak culture. Just one of the archaic customs preserved there is the Szent Iván Day (midsummer) fire jumping. There are fears that Hungarian culture will be completely disappear into the surrounding Slovak culture. For example in 1913 Kodály wrote that Vicsápapáti/ Výčapy-Opatovce had 1226 Hungarian residents and 113 Slovaks; in 2001 there were 1959 Slovak residents and 145 Hungarians. There are people in the region actively involved in supporting and keeping the Hungarian heritage alive. Amongst them are Tóth Klára, Tóth Borbála, Ladányi Lajos. Unfortunately Tóth Klára succumbed to complications from the COVID 19 virus at the age of 49 on May 17, 2020, leaving a great hole in the hearts of the Hungarians of Zoboralja. By dr. Gerzanics Magdolna.
Stories of life in Bukovina – Kóka Rozália’s column. Excerpts from – Lőrincz Gergely: Székely édesanyám sok szép szava [My Sweet Székely Mother’s Many Beautiful Words]. Bukovina Kiadó, Budapest, 2014. Two stories: one of courtship at Easter time when a boy trying to win a girl’s favour over another boy, takes her swinging. The second story is about a young man who arranges to kidnap the girl he wants for his wife (with the girl’s consent). Both sets of parents had planned more economically advantageous matches for their children and forbidden the marriage. Kidnapping or ’stealing the girl’ was the method of the time for avoiding an arranged marriage. These stories are related in the local dialect.
Interview with double bass player Mohácsy Albert ’Berci’. Berci has been a part of the dance house movement for 35 years. He moved to Budapest in 1989 when there were dance houses every night of the week. He describes his life as a professional folk bass player, first with Méta Ensemble, now with Dűvő. He was also a founding member of Heavy Méta and Magyar Vista Social Club – doing Hungarian folk-based rock. He worked at the Hungarian Heritage House for 10 years as a folk publications coordinator and editor. He teaches music, judges at folk competitions and counts himself amongst the fortunate to have been able to meet, learn directly from, and play with some of the master traditional village musicians – many of whom have already passed away. Amongst his comments on the dance house movement: „...[in the 1980s] the whole thing had a sort of ’opposition undertone’– today it’s more of a form of entertainment...now there are folk pubs instead of dance houses...” He wonders what sociologists might say on how „... a mainly intellectual layer of urban [Hungarian]society took 20th century village culture and made it their own – and how the whole thing became a city sub-culture...” by Gőbölös Gábor (amozgastorvenye.blog.hu 2020 May 20.)
Hungarian Academy of Dance – Folk Dance Department. On June 9th, 2020, eighteen young professionally trained folk dancers received diplomas on schedule from the Hungarian Academy of Dance. Unfortunately the gala final exam performance showcasing the dancers (usually an integral part of the graduation process) could not be held, due to restrictions imposed because of the corona virus epidemic. The five year training program at the Dance Academy in Budapest turns high school aged youngsters who like to dance, into professional folk dancers with a university level degree. Printed here is the address given by director of the Folk Dance Department, Hortobágyi Gyöngyvér on June 9th.
Contradictions in Hungarian Peasant Culture. The colorful and lavishly decorated folk costumes and other objects of folk art seem contradictory to the impoverished circumstances of the folk artists that made them. This short article discusses this paradox, said to have evolved as a result of economic changes of the 19th century that caused an upswing in the life of the Hungarian peasantry. By Jávor Kata. First published in: Kis magyar néprajz a rádióban. RTV-Minerva Budapest. 1978. (P. Vas János’ column – presenting old writings on subjects relevant to MAG readers)
Christening traditions in Roman Catholic Hungarian villages of Moldavia. Discussed are: customs around who and how many people became godparents, their relationship to the parents of the child and to the godchild, what the godparents’ tasks were/are, how names for the baby were/are chosen, who performed christenings in the absence of a priest (sometimes it was the midwife), how long after birth a child was christened, what was eaten and when was the christening feast held, etc ”...when godparents left taking a newborn baby to be christened, they said: ”God willing, dear mother of the baby, we’ll be back soon: we are taking a heathen and will bring you back a Christian...” By Halász Péter.
Crown of Thorns. The story of a husband and wife in the traditional Hungarian village of Szék in Transylvania, Romania. At some point (presumably sometime after 1990) the wife, Amál decides to seek work cleaning houses and/or caring for the elderly in Budapest, as many women from Szék have done and do. Her husband remains at home in Szék. She’ll return home to Szék every few weeks. Amál finds that rural village life and habits of the average Szék family are different in many ways from the life and household habits of the Budapest city people she begins to work for. To be continued... By Széki Soós János.
National Association of Hungarian Gypsy Musicians. A brief report on associations established in Hungary between 1901 and 1940 for the protection of rights and musical interests of Hungarian Gypsy musicians and for their representation with the authorities. These organizations also published newspapers for shorter and longer periods. There is mention of a 1938 collective agreement signed between the Association and the Hungarian Association Artist’s Representation. The agreement aimed to improve the economic situation of Gypsy musicians. The Association eventually fell apart due to disagreements between the Association (which was led by the lead violinists) and the other band members. By Hajnáczky Tamás.
Grozdits Károly is a contributor and editor of folkMAGazin. He writes here about his own family: his grandfather’s story. His family was from "Felvidék" or Upper Hungary, meaning Hungarian communities in today’s Slovakia. He is on the trail of some unexplained family history. His grandfather Grozdits Gyula had been head gardener (a respected position) on the Semsey Estate in the town of Semse/Šemša (near the city of Kassa/Kosice, Eastern Slovakia). As a soldier during WWII he was taken prisoner and held in a prison camp near Szeged in Hungary. After the war he did not return to Semse to join his family. Grozdits Gyula hung himself on the day his grandson Károly was born, but no one told Károly about this until he was in his twenties. Of course he was curious: Why? Recently Károly found reports from 1943 newspapers about a suspicious hunting accident in Semse, wherein his grandfather accidently shot another hunter.
Traditional Hungarian food – roasting meat on the open fire: the most basic way to cook meat is to skewer it and roast it outdoors. Hungarians, also, have been doing this for centuries and summer is a good time for it. Fish, chicken, pork, rabbit, steer, lamb and game are discussed with suggestions for roasting times, method, placement over the fire, seasoning (simple: salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika) and types of skewers/spits (wood, metal). A cook book by Hungarian sociologist Erdei Ferenc from Makó is heavily referred to. By Juhász Katalin.
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Women’s Traditional Costume: Jobbágytelke. This writing focuses on the costume worn on holidays and for dance. Jobbágytelke/Sâmbriaş is located in the Marosszék region of Székelyföld, Transylvania, Romania. Today it is located in Maros County/județul Mureș and is part of the Székelyhodos/Hodoșa municiple district. The author got much of her information from personal ethnographical interviews conducted mainly between 2003–2005 with village residents. The costume, made originally of home-made, handwoven fabrics changed here too, gradually over the 20th century with the appearance and increasing availability of factory-made fabrics and city fashion. There is mention of the dance house movement’s positive influence on appreciation of their local costume. Today the local costume is worn mainly by the local folk dance group, for holidays and other folklore events. By Dóka Krisztina.
Soundman, bicyclist, rower. The late "Zaki" – Zakariás István was for decades a well-known sound engineer for classical, folk, electric music in Hungary. He worked for Hungarton, ZA-KI Sound Studio, SZONYA CD Bt. Etnofon, Sony and others. Not to list the bands and musicians who worked with and respected him. Not only a good soundman, he was also an inventor, sportsman and Kiss Feri’s long-time friend. By Kiss Ferenc.
Cultural Heritage Days – happens every year in the third week of September. It is held in Hungary in different locations each year in order to present various communities with noted cultural heritage. UNESCO formed the international agreement for protecting cultural heritage in 2003. Hungary joined in 2006. "By establishing the UNESCO agreement they wish to stimulate the need to preserve intellectual cultural heritage, so that the importance of cultural heritage will be acknowledged and known on a local, national and international level..." Mainly this is an effort to protect and preserve the kind of heritage that is no longer spontaneously handed on and is in danger of dying-out in its natural habitat. By Dr. Csonka-Takács Eszter.
Working with Rosta Kati – conversation with Gryllus Dániel, Sebő Ferenc, Szomjas György, Jantyik Csaba, Jantyik Zsolt . These gentlemen remember the work of the recently passed away Rosta Kati. She worked closely with all of them, with Halmos Béla and many others; as producer and organizer for festivals, concerts, publications, film, TV. Much of her work focused on folk music and the dancehouse movement, but she also worked with other music genres. She had endless energy, good taste and got things done – always promoting the work of others, rather than herself. A few of the projects she worked on: Kaláka Festival, "Új Régi Hang" series of documentary films on master traditional musicians (directed by Halmos, Szomjas), "Betyárjáték" theatre production, and many, many more. In Kati’s own words: "…better to honor someone’s life and work, than their death." By Jantyik Csaba.
The Halmos Béla Estate – more than 300 folk music photos from Béla’s collection are now available online. These are pictures taken by him over more than 4 decades of activity in the dance house movement and doing traditional music field collection work. The complete collection containing more than 5000 photos was purchased by the Hungarian Heritage House – and now they are in the process of digitalizing them. See announcement in Hungarian for links to the photos.
Intensive Folk Dance – "yoga–folk" is a method devised by a Hungarian dancer with a masters in teaching folk dance from the Hungarian Academy of Dance. It aims to teach Hungarian folk dance to adults on an amateur level and incorporates yoga into the classic folk dance training and warm-up exercises. "I have selected exercises that most effectively develop the specific skills necessary for Hungarian folk dance." "Yoga…is the opposite of the jumping, stamping and dynamic movements of folk dance: we also work with yoga’s slow, static body positions.." "...yoga and folk dance, in body, mind and spirit complement and support one another nicely through their differences." By Horányi-Pirók Panka. www.intenzivneptanc.hu
Old writings still interesting today – P. Vas János’ column. Here are 3 short pieces by Morvay Judit: Old Women (according to old peasant law: if someone doesn’t work, they don’t deserve bread); The Extended Family (a tiny thatched roof house with various farm buildings often housed an extended family of 20-30 people); Generations (the behavior of village folks ’some time ago’ was strictly regulated by the rules of the community – each age group had to live up to certain expectations). These pieces are about old ways that were tough, but practical for the impoverished, rural society. From "Kis magyar néprajz a rádióban". Budapest, 1978.
Szilágyság melodies’ kontra and double-bass accompaniment. Szilágyság/Sălaj is a region in Western Transylvania. Ethnographically it is a transitional area between Transylvania and the Hungarian Plain. It is located in the Northwestern corner of today’s Romania. Many Hungarian ethnomusicologsts agree that in terms of folk music, the region belongs to Transylvania because of: the vocabulary of melodies, style of playing the stringed instruments, accentuation in the dance melodies, and the counter rhythm used. The playing style of two musicians: Boda Vilmos "Dándáló" (four-stringed viola) born 1927, and Varga Sándor "Pengő" (double bass) born 1929 – is examined here. Both musicians are from the village of Szilágynagyfalu/Nușfalău. Types of melodies examined: figurázó (a legényes – a type of men’s dance) verbunk /lassú csárdás (men’s dance/slow couple dance), ugrálós (fast couple dance). By Árendás Péter. – Preview from a publication soon to be released by Hungarian Heritage House: Szilágysági népzene [Folk Music of Szilágyság]
Budapest’s Gypsy musicians’ movement at the turn of the century. In the early 1900s the Association of Hungarian Gypsy Musicians was formed by active musicians themselves. They also established the Hungarian Gypsy Musicians’ Magazine and then organized the Five Hundred Gypsy Musicians Concert at Népszínház (People’s Theatre) in Budapest’s 8th district. There were also efforts by Radics Béla to establish a pension fund for Gypsy musicians. An agency for Hungarian Gypsy bands was also formed in an effort to help the musicians’ economic situation. In 1909 a "nóta" (composed Hungarian folksy style popular music) contest was held – the list of winners was published in the magazine. The organization and magazine both closed in 1910. By Hajnáczky Tamás.
Imaginary conversation with Kodály Zoltán – this is really more like an interview, short questions are asked; "Kodály" answers. Through this format we get information about Kodály’s work, what "he thinks" about folk music as a curriculum (apparantly at the Academy of Music- though not stated), his music teaching, what is folk music’s role in formal music training, what can be done with folk song today, folk music arrangements, how can one build folk music into life today, whether being able to read music is important for folk musicians, what could be done in the 21st century to make sure the ’old culture’ doesn’t fade away without a trace… and then…even, what "he thinks" about world music. By Fehér Anikó.
New recording: Pendely: Debrecenbe’ nyílik a virág (FA 451-2 Fonó, 2020). Afterschool music instruction for children in Debrecen includes an active and award-winning children’s folk chorus known locally as the "Pendely family”. Led by music teachers Tóth Lila and Sáriné Szebenyi Judit, the children learn and sing according to the dance house method of folk music instruction, getting their material and style as directly from traditional master singers as possible. This record presents a selection of the chorus’ repertoire from various Hungarian regions and villages in Hungary, Transylvania and Slovakia.
Kóka Rózália’s column: Stories from life in old Bukovina. A story about a winter spinning party. Girls of marriagable age in the village met in a villager’s house on winter evenings to spin together. At some point the boys arrived with some alcohol and a musician. They told jokes and tales, sang and danced, and this was where certain courtship rituals were carried out. In this story, a boy has decided he likes a particular girl, so he tells his father he wants to carve a spindle for her as a present. By this, his father knows his son is serious about the girl. The boy takes the spindle to the spinning party to present it to the girl. She accepts the gift and everyone knows that the two like one another, now no other boys will approach her, and it may even end in marriage. At a spinning party when a girl dropped her spindle, a boy would rush to pick it up for her because he may get a kiss in return. When the party ended, the boys gave money for the musician. By Lőrincz Gergely – related in heavy dialect.
Mrs Nyisztor Bertalan, János Rozália was born in 1897 in the village of Székelykeve/Skorenovac today in Serbia’s South Banat District (Voivodina). She died in 1991 in Majos (Bonyhád), in Hungary’s Tolna County. Of Bukovina Székely origin, she was locally known as an excellent traditional singer. Sometime in the 1950s when Kodály Zoltán went to ask her if she would sing for him, she sent him away, exhausted and afraid he was just another communist that had come to confiscate the little food they had left… finally in 1983 she was named Master of Folk Arts, and in 1988 sang on a recording edited by Sebő Ferenc called: Bukovinai Székelyek Magyarországon. By Kóka Rozália.
Conversation with Legeza Márta – basket weaver. Legeza Márti works at the Hungarian Heritage House and she has a passion for the craft of basket weaving. She is now an expert on everything about basket weaving in Hungary, has travelled to study basket weaving traditions in other European countries and won a grant from the Hungarian Academy of Arts to seek out master Hungarian basket weavers and learn from them. There is discussion of whether handcraft traditions are only something from the past, or should they be re-thought for today’s every day life. Interview by Grozdits Károly.
Proper conduct for women in traditional life of the Carpathian Basin. Examples are taken from traditional communities all over the Hungarian language area. In general the discussion applies to peasant culture in the past, before the disintegration of traditional life. Many of the rules stated are supported with example sayings from embroidered wall-hangings, texts of songs, tales, ballads. Rules for women’s behavior were more strict than for men’s. A good woman: didn’t gossip, didn’t talk much, served her guests, let the man go first, didn’t laugh loudly, didn’t argue with or say no to her husband…her place was in the home. Before WW II women had a secondary role in society. Rules varied for little girls, unmarried young women, married women, older women. By Werschitz Annamária.
Traditional Hungarian cuisine: "Folk grill". This is a discussion of shish kebab – in Hungarian: saslik, zsiványpecsenye or rablóhús – all referring to small bits of meat skewered on a stick and roasted over the hot coals of an open fire (or can be cooked in a frying pan with a bit of oil). The meat is best when cooked to crispy on the outside remaining juicy inside, and can be pork, veal, chicken, lamb, etc. Some put small pieces of baconfat and/or onion between the pieces of meat on the skewer. Some meats may need to be marinated. It appeared in Hungary sometime in the last half of the 1800s, probably from the Caucasus; then later on via Russian influence. This dish became a popular restaurant menu item between the two world wars, served with fresh bread, potatoes, rice, salad, etc.. By Juhász Katalin.
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Lakatos Mónika singer with the groups Romengo and Cigány Hangok has just received the 2020 WOMEX life time achievement award! Here she talks about being a Hungarian Gypsy, about tradition, passing on tradition, singing in the Gypsy language, music and their recording called “Romanimo” which contains the ‘rhythmless’ listening, ballad-like old songs sung in her family’s community - which is where she began to sing and learned her songs. With the Romanimo recording they wanted to share this kind of song that ‘comes from a place deep down’ and to remind today’s young folks in the Gypsy communities about this genre and their heritage. Interview by Grozdits Károly.
Examining ‘Kun’ or Cuman identity in Hungary with regards to activities of the Kun Association. “The Cumanians, also known as Polovtsians or Polovtsy were a Turkic nomadic people in the western part of the Eurasian Steppe. After the Mongol invasion (1237), many sought asylum in the Kingdom of Hungary.” While true Cumanian roots are difficult to demonstrate, the field research for this article was carried out in the town of Karcag, Hungary in 2012 amongst people who consider themselves to be Cumanian. Results included: there is a distinction made between Kiskun (small Cuman) and Nagykun (large Cuman); there is mention of Cumanian mentality, Cumanian outlook on life, Cumanian physical features and affinity for horses. Some things thought of as being connected to the Cuman Hungarians are: the Komondor dog breed, the Cumanian gate, Cumanian lion, the yurt, lamb stew, Cumanian mounds. By Werschitz Annamária.
Wings and roots. A melancholy story about someone returning to visit their native village (presumably in Transylvania) after having left to find the world…re-visiting a favorite tree, familiar cracks in a wall, family memories and wondering if the village would die out. Then finding children, swallows and hope in the courtyards. A short, short story by Kacsirek Ottó.
Kozák József: [The skin bagpipe in Europe]. A volume summarizing results of several decades of research on the origins of the ’skin bagpipe’. Author reccomends more research attention to the primitive or archaic bagpipe types. Announcement includes lengthy bibliography. By Kozák József: “A bőrduda Európában”. Vácduka, Hungary. 2020. in Hungarian.
“Hungarian and other Traditions” is the name of a YouTube channel established and maintained by Török Béla (code name: Old Boy) a retired Hungarian electrical engineer whose hobby has become videoing at folk events in Hungary. He posts his videos on YouTube and has a significant number of viewers both in Hungary and abroad. He likes to video at folk festivals particularly when there is folk dancing. This hobby didn’t start from a long-time interest in the dance house movement or folk music; it evolved as a pastime in retirement, not a source of income. He mentions some issues with posting this kind of content on YouTube. Interview by G. Szabó Sarolta from October 12, 2020/ ritmuseshang.blog.hu
Salute to Dsupin Pál 1963–2020 – folk musician, folk music researcher, music teacher, instrument maker, teacher at the Folk Music Department of the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. He was a resident of the village of Noszvaj, Heves County, Hungary. His main subjects were performance, teaching and repertorie of traditional shepherd’s flutes. He did folk music collection work in Bükkszék (Hungary), in the Gyimes, Mezőség and Felcsík regions of Transylvania, in Moldavia and in Noszvaj. He published recordings of traditional music from those areas and made a recording with Berecz András “Hazakísérlek”. Printed here is Juhász Zoltán’s eulogy from his funeral on Oct, 3, 2020 in Noszvaj, Hungary.
New recording: POKLADE: Balkántransz. A Fonó release. 2020. Poklade band members met at the tambura music school in the southern Hungarian town of Mohács studying under legendary tambura musicians Versendi Kovács József, Tiszai György, Peti Kovács István. This is Poklade’s second recording, they formed the band in 2010 and have since conquered the clubs and Serbian dance houses.
Old writings still interesting today – P. Vas János’ column. …three short pieces from „Kis magyar néprajz a rádióban” [a bit of Hungarian folklore on the radio]. Two describe water’s significance in Hungarian and Balkan folklore: water means life, fertility, renewal; it cures. Water has magical cleansing power, it ensures health, wards off misery and misfortune. It has a particularly important role in the Christmas and Easter holiday celebrations. There were customs about just how, who and when they could handle water. Fire also has an equally important role in folk customs everywhere. Fire has a double edged importance: it is of integral importance for everyday life, but can also cause harm, and so is connected to fear as well. There were places the fire was fed with a bit of flour or dough before baking the bread. Fire also functioned as a spell breaker and for cleansing. By Erdélyi Zsuzsanna, Kiss Mária, Pócs Éva. Budapest 1978.
Timár Sándor’s first collection trip to Romanian communities in Hungary in 1954 July 17–27. A description of his dance ethnography collection work done during that 10 day period. He visited 13 villages along the Hungarian-Romanian border collecting information about Romanian folk tradition, names of the dances, who could dance them, origin of the dances and the dance’s role. Most of the reports he made mention need to return for recording music and film documention of the dances. Later that year he returned to Méhkerék, Elek, and Magyarcsanád to film the dances, etc. The location of documentation in the archives from these collection trips is provided. This information highlights another side of Timár’s work: field collection work on traditional dance, whereas he is very well known as an artistic director of folk dance ensembles, choreographer, and for his method for teaching Hungarian folk dance. Report by Timár Sándor’s son, Timár Mihály.
Ethnographic photos from the Kallós Zoltán Collection. 450 photographs from Kallós’ vast collection of photographs have recently been posted on the Hungarian Heritage House Médiatár website. The photos were taken between 1956 and 1983 in Transylavania and Moldavia during collection work done by Kallós and Martin György. Selected photos from the collection are printed in this issue along with excerpts from the film “Balladák filmje” directed by Gulyás Gyula and Gulyás János filmed between 1983–1989 about Kallós’ extraordinary life. Kallós Zoltan (1926–2018) was the Transylvanian inspiration and resource person for the táncház movement. He was a lifelong collector of Transylvanian and Moldavian traditional music, song and folk art. His collection is preserved by the Kallós Foundation based in Válaszút/Răscruci, Romania.
Kóka Rózália’s column: Stories from life in old Bukovina. Two stories for the All Saints Day and Day of the Dead season. One is an account of what happened when a young neighbor in the village died unexpectedly, the way church bells were rung when someone died, the talk amongst neighbors and the wake.
On History’s Path – Kóka Rozália tracks the fates of Székely Hungarian families relocated from Bukovina. From Istenes/Višnjevac to Majos (today a district of the town of Bonyhád in Tolna County, southwestern Hungary). This is the story of Mrs. Szőcs István – whose parents were Székely Hungarians from the Bukovina village of Istensegíts (today Țibeni, Romania). They had been relocated to Višnjevac (in the North Backa district of Serbia) in 1941 where Mrs. Szőcs was born in 1943. Then in 1944 during World War II her family was expelled from Višnjevac and ended up in a labor camp in Szikics/Lovćenac. By spring of 1945 her mother had died. In Hungary in 1946 and her father remarried and she was sent to a foster home. She was fortunate, her adoptive parents were also originally from Bukovina, they were kind and gave her a good home. Later, in the 1980s Mrs. Szőcs made contact and made friends with the Serbian family from the house in Višnjevac where she was born.
Examining some elements of the peasant scale of values and morals amongst the Hungarians of Moldavia. The main factors affecting the scale of values in this ethnic group and rural society are: shame and conscience. Specific areas discussed: stealing (especially stealing food from the fields), community manifestations/phenomena (community shaming or approval/disapproval), collective offering of help (mainly within the network of extended family and neighbors), handwork/handcrafts/traditional handcrafts as life-quality improving factors (making of roof shingles and other practical objects from wood, barrel making, basket weaving, ceramics, leather crafts, furriers), being raised with a strong work ethic, inheritance, distortions of peasant values. By Halász Péter.
Review: „A visai Kőris alatt” Mezőség music and dance. This was the title of a concert in February 2020 at the Hungarian Heritage House in Budapest, of traditional music and dance from the Mezőség region of Transylvania concentrating on the village of Visa. There was to have been a record release concert for the recording of this material in April of 2020, which was cancelled due to the Corona virus pandemic. The record release was finally held at an event on October 17th 2020 in the village of Szentgál, Hungary. Musicians: Koncz Gergely (violin), Fekete Antal Puma (kontra), Liber Endre (kontra), Havasréti Pál (double bass). Dancers at the Hungarian House event were Szappanos Tamás, Defend Irén, and several couples from the Bartók Ensemble. Highly recommended by Henics Tamás.
Food and tradition. Continuing with the “folk grill” theme, this issue discusses international versions of shishkebab, focusing particularly on this meal of bits of meat marinated, then skewered and roasted over a fire as done in Uzbekistan, Republic of Georgia and Armenia. In these countries lamb meat is the most popular for shishkebab, though every kind of meat is used with the exception of pork. The recipes are very similar to one another. The various kinds of flat bread, salads, seasonings and condiments eaten with this dish are mentioned. There is also a recipe for Georgian skewered and roasted eggplant with sheep fat and mint which is meant to be a side dish for meat shishkebab. By Juhász Katalin.
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Interview with directors of Urban Verbunk Dance Ensemble Tóth Judit and Moussa Ahmed. Urban Verbunk is based in the town of Gödöllő 30 km northeast of Budapest. Both directors began folk dancing in the Muharay Elemér Folk Dance Ensemble in Gödöllő in the early 1990s. Urban Verbunk does its own version of folk dance theatre. “We present folk dance in an urban way…” “I would like to make tradition livable in a form that can be authentic in 2020 too.” “Those that criticize us…cannot accept that for the stage, folk dance is a device (a tool) that is used…why can’t folk culture be both a valuable asset and a medium (a tool) for expression?...” Urban Verbunk is Hungary’s newest professional ensemble (8 dancers). The professional ensemble practices in the mornings, in the afternoon the directors are busy with administrating and teaching folk dance to more than 290 local school children (including a program for disadvantaged Roma children). By Grozdits Károly.
Interview with Laposa Julcsi an award winning fiddler, folk musician, music mediator and music teacher from Southwestern Hungary’s Zala County and/or the so-called ‘Muravidék’/ Prekmurje the area of Slovenia along the Mur River. She has recently completed a project publishing 34 folk songs for children from her native area: 17 Hungarian songs and 17 Slovenian songs. The project won support from the Slovenian Hungarian Inter-Regional/European Regional Development Fund as a ‘folk music heritage project’. By Kertész Dalma.
Winter tales by Mikszáth Kálmán “…just between you and me, of course I agree that St. Nick is a saint, but I don’t think he is much of a gentleman. …no matter how we paint the picture, he’s nothing but a spy, a common spy. Before sending out the presents for Christmas, he sends Jesus down to earth to check which children are obeying their parents and which aren’t…Nicholas is cunning, he asks the servants, and even the beasts, the birds and the grasses and they all answer because, after all, he’s a saint…” From the 1880s, source: mek.oszk.hu
Short story: Sounds of the Delta (excerpt). A tale about a military barracks in the Danube delta region (Romania) about a Captain Vlagyimir who finally froze to death and his daughter Mitti who went away for a while then returned with one of the soldiers and a baby. As it turned out soldiers under the Captain’s command were guarding the secret cemetery that held the remains of political prisoners who had died doing forced labor harvesting reeds in the delta. By Lokodi Imre (born 1960) writer and journalist originally from the Transylvanian village of Mikháza /Călugăreni.
Kerekes Band – interview with founding member Fehér Zsombor about the path this band has taken over the past 25 years. The band members describe themselves “city boys, but with strong family ties to the countryside” (Fedémes, Palóc region). Zsombor’s parents participated in Hungary’s revival movement. For the first 10 years band members collected original traditional music in the countryside (mainly in Transylvania’s Gyimes region) and played for dance houses, following the ‘classic’ recipe for dance house movement bands. Then came the questions: “…we listen to the music and stories of the master village musicians – their stories; but what is OUR story? Do we play their tunes exactly like they do, or do we have our own history?” When the director of Periferic Records (a Hungarian progressive rock label) approached them about making a record – providing the sound of rock and roll would be included – the band was ecstatic. Since then, that is the path their music has taken. Interview by Jávorszky Béla Szilárd published in Mandiner. 2020 Nov. 26.
Conversation with Timár Sándor. Timár (born in 1930, turned 90 this year) comments on his first memories of dance as a toddler at home in Szolnok, dancing in Molnár István’s folk dance group "SZOT" in the early 1950s, starting the Bartók Ensemble in 1958 and 22 years directing that group. He also talks about being hired to direct the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble in the early 1980s and 16 years with that professional ensemble. After that he and his wife Böske founded and directed Csillagszemű children’s group and Timár Chamber Folk Dance Ensemble which they have taken all over the world. Interview ends with remarks on passing Hungarian folk dance on to further generations and his method for teaching folk dance. By Fehér Anikó (interview from the year 2000).
Old writings still interesting today – P. Vas János’ column. Beliefs surrounding, and magical strength of ‘the spoken word’: this is a piece about Hungarian incantations and curses. Examples from the Bible and from folklore are provided. One example of a curse: “May your wash water turn to blood and your towel catch fire”; or another well-known one: “May you be eaten up by gangrene”, usually translated as simply: “damn you!”. By Pócs Éva from "Kismagyar a néprajz a rádióban". Minerva. Budapest, 1978.
Reviews of 4 recently released CDs. "Yes, the ’album’ format is still the basic cultural distillation….” Recommended are: Kollár-Klemencz László’s chamber ensemble’s "Ég az erdő" (the forest is burning) which he says is, "folk music but like all truely good productions…it sums up the essence of culture”. Ötödik évszak’s record of "acoustic city music" uses texts by poets and French/Hungarian singer Izabella Caussanel’s voice against a solid base of Budapest folk musicians. Lajkó Félix and Band "…the band supports Lajkó’s creative ego without breaking it apart …listening to Lajkó one doesn’t think of elements of thought, rather it’s impulses, flashes, elements of atmosphere, emotional runs…elemental energy…a plentiful cavalcade". Finally Dalinda’s new record of folk accapella "Átjárók" is praised: "…successful arrangements of traditional folklore… the best folk album of the year so far” by singers: Paár Juliana, Tímár Sára, Nádasdy Fanni. From Rácz Mihály at: langolo.hu 2020 November 26.
The Jászság is a region located approximately 60 km east of Budapest in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County. Since 1994 there have been conscious and concerted efforts to maintain and encourage appreciation and knowledge of local Jász heritage. This article tells mainly about the project of reconstructing and re-introducing local costume. First materials from the Jász Museum on local dress in the region in the 19th century were studied, then came the search for appropriate textiles, finally local seamstresses began to sew the costume pieces and then entire sets of costume. More and more local residents became enthusiastic and had costumes made. Nowadays many local families wear the Jász costume for celebrations, weddings, local holidays, etc. By Bathó Edit, ethnographer and director of the Jász Museum.
Summary of the Hungarian Heritage Youth Folklore Association’s activities in 2020 – its 30 year anniversary. The annual Children’s Folk Dance Anthology, a festival showcasing the best children’s groups and choreographies of the previous year, was held in February in Szeged, Hungary. Due to the pandemic only two (Budapest and Tata) of several regional solo folk dance competitions planned for the year actually occurred. Regional children’s folk dance festivals were able to be held in Szekszárd, Bük, Szeged, Kecskemét and Veszprém despite compromises for health concerns. A camp for nurturing young talent in folk dance was held at the end of June in Szamoskér. 48 folk dance teachers met in Gyenesdiás in early September for a professional conference. In the early fall smaller festivals were held at several locations in Hungary under the heading of the National Dance House Festival. Report by president Sikentáncz Szilveszter and Fodor Zsófia.
Kóka Rózália’s column: Stories from life in old Bukovina. A description of the Christmas tradition known as “Csobányozás” referring to the custom of going from house to house performing a pageant play telling the story of Bethlehem – as done by the Székely Hungarians in the Bukovina village of Istensegíts/Țibeni sometime before WWII. The priest, cantor and other leading men of the village would meet in November to plan who would take what part in the play. They looked for upstanding young men with ‘no black marks in their life’ and good singing voices, and an unmarried girl for the part of Virgin Mary. By Lőrincz Gergely.
On History’s Path – Kóka Rozália tracks the fates of Székely Hungarian families relocated from Bukovina. The manure hauling workparty – about a time in the winter of 1951 when Bukovina Székely men in Tolna County gathered to help haul manure. This was the period when the Hungarian government was forcefully encouraging people to hand over their farms, livestock and equipment and join the agricultural cooperatives. The folks from Bukovina had had enough after more than ten years of continual displacement and loss; some simply gave up and went to work in the mines.
Moldavian Csángó Hungarian Christmas traditions. The Moldavian Csángó Hungarians are Roman Catholic and their Christmas traditions follow those religious customs, with "perhaps fewer outside influences…". Discussed separately are the advent; Christmas eve (Dec 24th, the end of the fast, preceded by lots of cleaning); the house to house Bethlehem passion plays and caroling that went on until the new year; Christmas, December 25th (when ALL work was forbidden); Saint Stevens Day; Saint John’s Day; the so-called “rolling week” between Christmas and New Year’s. Some of the more remote Hungarian Csángó villages did not add a Christmas tree to their celebrations until after 1990 – while in villages with more outside influences Christmas trees appeared in the 1960s, and it is seen as a custom brought from the west. By Halász Péter.
“Listen to the song “Elment a madárka” [The bird has gone] today in memory of Ménes Ágnes. We share the pain and mourning of her husband, Éri Péter and his family! God grant Ági peace, and comfort to her family! We bid farewell to a wonderful person, a friend, and Muzsikás’ creative partner, our records and beautiful concert stage decorations carry her mark. God bless you dear Ági! Rest in Peace! Hamar Dániel, Sipos Mihály, Porteleki László” posted 2020 Nov. 5th on Muzsikás’ facebook page. Ménes Ági’s distinctive, dazzling humor, her legendary jewelry workshop studio and artistry, her collaboration in [Molnár Gyula’s] productions at Szkéné theatre in Budapest; folks gathered around her and her family, a community personality she would scope out people and draw them into the fold: “…Ági’s key opened up the folk circles to me, the decorative gates of the dance-house jungle, entrance only to men-folk in boots and moustache. I had neither, but Ági took me by the hand and sat me down in a corner. She is well respected here…” “…magazine editor, a few pieces written together, illustrations, graphics, three plays, set decoration, adventures large and small, the rare pleasure of creating together, and what else does Ági do? She laughs and laughs, and makes you laugh.” Excerpts from Molnár Gyula Olasz’s letter of farewell to Ménes Ági (1954–2020) read at her funeral, November 20th, 2020, Tordas cemetery, Hungary.
Food and tradition – continuing with the theme of folk grill, this time exploring variations of grilled ground meat popular in Hungary, Romania, the Balkans and Turkey as home garden grilled food, street or fast food. Many kinds of ground meat are used: lamb or mutton, pork, beef – often a mixture of meats mixed with spices and a bit of baking soda. They are served with mustard, ajvar or other sauces, mayonnaises. Known under many spellings and in various shapes as: kebab, kjufte, cevapcica, mics, pleskavica, döner kebab, etc. By Juhász Katalin.
New CDs: BAHORKA: Pletykázó asszonyok [women talking] – Bahorka group does improvisational Hungarian folk theatre. Here they tell stories like women trading local gossip; but what they have actually done is put Weöres Sándor’s poetry to music. Singers Balogh Melinda, Horváth Sára and Kaszai Lili, with a host of good folk musicians. A Fonó release 2020; Cserepes: The Big Slalom. Cserepes Károly has created another interesting album of world music using recordings of traditional music from various locations in Eastern Europe. He places the recordings in unusual surroundings using digital technology. "The original recordings interact and converse with one another; a new musical fabric comes into existence….” He incorporates music from Maramures (Transylvania), the streets of Prague, northern Slovakia, Serbia, the Vlachs and central Hungarian Gypsy music. A Fonó release, 2020.; Tímár Sára: "Feljött immár az a csillág" – A ’solo’ recording of traditional Hungarian songs for the Christmas season by Dalinda Ensemble member and Junior Prima award winning singer Tímár Sára, accompanied by a group of excellent Budapest dance house musicians. Released by Gryllus Kft. 2020; Arató Band: Vízmelléki prímások [Vízmellék Fiddlers] Fonó 2020. Traditional music of Transylvania’s Vízmellék region: Arató Band revives the style, melodies and sound of the fiddlers of the Kis-Küküllő/Târnava Mică area. Names of lead fiddlers in the region were: Káló "Cuppa" József of the village of Héderfája/Idrifaia; Bolha Zoltán of Bonyha/Bahnea; Fagyula János "Gyurica" of Vámosgálfalva/Gănești and Kozák József "Ţăr" of Ádámos/Adămuș. Arató Band: Tóth Luca Réka (violin, voice, whistling), Sándor István (kontra, primkontra, dance), Földesi János Jr. (double bass) and guests: Hetényi Milán (voice) and Liber Endre (cymbalom).