My meetings with a Moldavian soulseer – excerpts from a book about Hungarian Csángó Moldavian woman, Jánó Ferenc Ilona. For 37 years, starting in 1969 Kóka Rozália visited her informant Jánó Ferenc Ilona documenting her visions and important events in her life. In 2006 Rozália’s collection work was published in a book by L’Harmattan in Budapest. „A seer of the dead (soulseer) is a man or woman who according to Hungarian folk belief has supernatural powers and can contact the dead, bring news from them, or can sometimes help with healing…” Rozália first heard about the seer in the Moldavian village of Lészped/Lespezi from other ethnographic informants from Moldavia. When she travelled to Lészped to visit Jánó Ferenc Ilona the first time, the seer met her with the following words, „I’ve been expecting you…my guardian angel told me you were coming. And that you come with good intentions. I can tell you secrets, you will use my words for good cause.” Kóka Rozália’s new column.
Vass Lajos Lifework award. This award is given to those who for decades have been dedicated to preserving, passing on, carrying on Hungarian folk music and folk culture. On October 23, 2021 this award was given to Kóka Rozália active in the Vass Lajos Folk Music Association and director of Érd Bukovina Székely Folk Song Circle for 48 years. The award was also given posthumously to Dr. Gerzanics Magdolna folk music researcher, journalist, supporter of the folk music movement. Announcement by Farkas Márta, vice president, Vass Lajos Folk Music Association.
New recording – „Határtalán férfiének” – the unbounded men’s voice. This recording highlights the Hungarian men’s singing voice and themes that men sang about in the past. There are traditional songs about herders, shepherds, soldiers, outlaws, ballads and historical songs from the southern and southeastern Hungarian language area and Transylvania – mostly from outside the borders of today’s Hungary. The recording features Gubinecz Ákos’ singing recorded with the Tokos, Juhász, Üsztürü, Csádé, Zeke and Tarsoly bands, the Muravidék Chorus and others. Announcement by Gubinecz Ákos and recommendation by Eredics Gábor.
MAGTÁR – Literature and the dance house. Excerpt from a novel entitled „Iker” (meaning: twin) by Transylvanian Hungarian writer, poet, editor Simó Márton which includes description of the early dance house movement in Transylvania. „…the authorities prohibited it, but allowed it. They permitted it, and didn’t. For awhile. Then they stopped it. There were certain elements in the dance house music and in the dance that could be used for ideological purposes, but only if taken out of the original context.” „… the national schizophrenia. The need to create the myth and the past, in a national package of lies…until the people believe it… The [dance house] movement was born in oppositon to this. Back to the roots. Back to the pure source. The mentality of Bartók, Kodály, Lajtha László, Domokos Pál Péter reappeared and Kallós Zoltán’s folk music collection work seemed to align with this mentality.” One of the novel’s main characters, Hunor participated, „…Hunor felt like he was in his element when he went to the dance house. For one thing there were a lot of women there. Which is important for every young man. You could meet and make friends with teachers, university students, nurses, girls studying to be school teacher…”
New publication: Teaching Hungarian Folk Music Fifty Years After Kodály. Editor: Tóth Lilla, 2021 Hagyományok Háza, Budapest/ In Hungarian. This volume contains written versions of nine papers given at a conference held during the 27th Folk Music Festival in Kecskemét, Hungary in 2017. Presenters and titles of papers included in the volume are: Agócs Gergely – Our musical mother tongue fifty years after Kodály; Tóth Lilla – Folk singing instruction methods at the Debrecen Music School; Navratil Andrea – I sing, I sing; Bese Botond – Bagpipe instruction at the Búzaszem School in Göd, Hungary; Dóra Áron – Innovative methods and traditional means for passing on traditional culture; Husi Gyula – Possibilites and problems of teaching zither in children’s cultural education; Szerényi Béla – Methodology for teaching hurdy-gurdy; Rőmer Ottó – Teaching folk violin today on beginning and intermediate levels; Árendás Péter – Teaching stringed instruments in the Folk Music Department at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (Budapest).
In Hungary the Carnival – or Farsang – season begins on January 6th and ends on Ash Wednesday with the beginning of Lent. Traditionally the most exciting celebrations happen at the end of the period – on Shrove Tuesday. Customs contain elements that reach back to European Pre-Christian times. The opinion of the church in the Middle Ages was: „…there is no other day in the entire year when the devil claims so many as his slave under the yoke of evil.” In Hungary, city carnival customs have pretty much died out with the exception of the carnival balls. Many more customs survived [at the time of publication] in the villages. Carnival celebrations include masquerading as spirits from hell/characters from the devil’s celebrations, men dress as women, women as men, etc. By Jávor Kata from: Kis magyar néprajz a rádióban. RTV Minerva, Budapest 1978.
A cigánykirály [The Gypsy King] – was a 1927 Hungarian operetta created in memory of Bihari János the celebrated Hungarian Gypsy violinist and song writer who lived from 1764 until 1827. The operetta was created for the 100th anniversary of Bihari’s death. In 1928 local press described the operetta as: „Hungarian through and through”, „a perfect performance. Revue-like spectacular. Captivating costume. Ballet and dance attractions. Music that speaks to the heart. A pageant of Esterházy hussars and hussar chorus girls. Laughter nonstop from 7:30-10:30”. By Lengyel Emese.
A traditional storytelling revival in Hungary is encouraged, supported and taught by Budapest’s Hungarian Heritage House where courses in traditional storytelling and Hungarian folk tale have been offered every year since 2007. The author of this article, herself a revival storyteller, addresses questions of carrying on the oral traditon within the context of today’s revival story telling movement in Hungary. She is active in „Meseszó Association” whose members are committed to carrying on the storytelling tradition. By Bumberák Maja.
Foods for holiday and every day amongst the Hungarians of Moldavia. „In Moldavia no one ever wrote down a recipe…they didn’t cook according to particular rules.” This article is organized around the following headings: soups, cornmeal/polenta, stuffed leaves, stuffed chicken, „Csiger” lamb offal (innerds) from the freshly butchered animal, „zsufa” (flaxseed gruel), crepe-like sweets filled with cottage cheese and a dumpling-like sweet. It should be noted that the Moldavian Csángó Hungarians lived in poverty surviving mainly by subsistence farming, so they ate what they could produce at home. By Halász Péter.
Blága Károly „Kicsi Kóta” (January 13, 1931 – January 19, 2022) Sötét Patak, Gyimesközéplok/Lunca de Jos, Harghita County, Romania. Blága Károly was a key figure in his community, well known as a good dancer who lived like most others from the traditional forms of subsistence farming and animal husbandry of Transylvania’s Gyimes region. He was well-known also in the dance house movement community as one of the great traditional village dancers. His wonderful dancing has been well documented with films housed in the Dance Collection of the Hungarian Institute of Musicology and in other archives. In 2003 Hungary recognized him with the title of „Master of Folk Arts”. The following was spoken by parish priest father Málnási Demeter at his funeral in Gyimesközéplok on January 21, 2022: „Though we here on earth have lost him, I believe that tonight the Gyimes skies gain another star. For the community gathered here to mourn him, I hope that Kicsi Kóta’s life and death shall become a forging strength and message heard far beyond our Gyimes region and the borders of our country. Rest in Peace.”
Tötszegi Andrásné Varga Erzsébet „Puci Ángyi” (1930–2022) Méra, a village in the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania is well-known for its traditional culture particularly in dance house movement circles. Dancers, singers, traditional costume makers, musicians and much more from this village have been documented by generations of Hungarian ethnographers. The Tötszegi family are prominent members of the village community and are also well-known as wonderful traditional dancers, singers and more. On his frequent visits to Méra, a member of Hungary’s dance house movement often took the time to sit with and listen to two elderly women from the Tötszégi family as they sat on the bench outside the gate of the family home to talk and gossip. Upon the recent passing of the second of the two women, he feels honored to have been able to join them there and talk with them. By Henics Tamás.
The brand new Hungarian House of Music – Interview with operational director Horn Márton. This newly built facility designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto opened in the end of January of 2022. It is located in Budapest’s city park and shall function as a concert venue, exhibition space and music library. There is already „…an exhibition on Hungarian connections to European music history – a concept that will be followed for concerts as well…It is important to present all aspects of Hungarian music culture…[we intend to] bring Hungarian and international musicians together giving proper attention also to both traditional and ‘global music’ (as separate from ‘world music’ that often involves fusions of music from different cultures)…” The institution will house Hungary’s first library of popular music. A staff of 70 run the new institution with Salamon Soma in charge of Hungarian folk music programing. For the first few months they will be functioning in „trial mode”. By Grozdits Károly.
Romengo Ensemble’s record „Folk utca” holds third place on the World Music Charts Europe toplist. Romengo’s music is based on Hungarian Oláh Gypsy traditional music, and features the wonderful singer Lakatos Mónika. The record was released on the FolkEurópa label.
In History’s path – Kóka Rozália’s series: Traditional folk artist Lőrincz Etel was born in 1955 in „Völgység Majos” [in Hungary’s Tolna County] into a Bukovina Székely Hungarian family especially talented in the folk arts. Her great grandmother had been one of Kodály’s informants and so on. Etel learned her crafts from family members who passed down folk information the traditional way within the family. Most of her relatives had not had the opportunity to go to school, but they nevertheless amassed a high level of folk knowledge which they have been eager to pass on. Etel is particularly known for her „festékes” embroidery and linen cloth weaving. She, like her family members have been, is dedicated to passing on the traditions.
Kisné Kovács Zsuzsa: Szeremlei történetek dalokban elmesélve. [Stories of Szeremle told in the songs] Published by the Town of Szeremle, Hungary, 2021. The volume contains folk songs collected in the community of Szeremle on the Danube in Southern Hungary. Most of the songs are classified as „new style” with some „old style” songs amongst the girl’s dances and jumping (ugrós) dance songs. The book also presents local dance traditions, dance types, and history of the local dance group from the „Gyöngyös Bokréta” period (1927) to the present. Announcement and review by ethnographer Mihálovics Ferenc.
Teaching curriculum for Hungarian folk cymbalom in both printed format and online. Both published by the Hungarian Heritage House the printed version was released 2021 (237 pages). The online version has recently been released on the Hungarian Heritage House website. Aimed at both folk cymbalom teachers and their students, it was written by Balogh Kálmán and Szabó Dániel and offers a practical guide to the folk cymbalom knowledge amassed over the last 50 years of the dance house movement. Well-known performer cymbalom player, Balogh Kálmán also teaches in the folk music department at the Liszt Academy of Music. This announcement also includes a short history of the cymbalom in Hungary. By Liber Endre.
Conversation with Tóth János director of the Hungarian Heritage House network project. As a national institution involved in the task of passing on folk traditions, in 2017 Budapest’s Hungarian Heritage House began to organize a network of related institutions with the same goals – in other parts of Hungary and in Hungarian communities outside of Hungary’s borders. Project director Tóth János discusses experiences setting up the branch institutions and perspectives for them in Hungary, and outside of Hungary in Transcarpathia, Transylvania, Voivodina, and Slovakia. „The network was initiated first of all on the basis of expressed community need.” Tóth oversees a department of eleven people involved in implementing and maintaining the project. Interview by Csinta Samu.
Jókai Mária recieves Csemadok Lifework Award. Csemadok is a cultural association of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia. Jókai Mária is retired but still active today. Her work centered mainly in Western Slovakia began in 1955 when she started teaching in a Hungarian school in Kaláz/Klasov, a village in Western Slovakia’s Nitra Region. Her activities often focused on traditional children’s games of the Zoboralja region, seasonal folk customs, folk embroidery, traditional costume. Here she recollects projects with Bethlehem Christmas pagent-play customs, a research collection project (sponsored by Csemadok) in the early 1970s where amateur and professional folklorists joined forces to collect local folklore material. Today she is involved in putting together a regional house museum in the village of Aha and projects documenting local folk costume. By Neszméri Tünde – first published 2022 jan. 30 www.felvidék.ma.
Exhibition celebrating the lifework of ethnographer, folklorist, folk dance choreographer, folk dancer Együd Árpád and his connections to the Balatoni Folk Dance Ensemble. The exhibition is open until April 2022 at the Kálmán Imre Museum in Siófók. Announcement by Lengyel Zsanett.
Food and Hungarian tradition – customs surrounding feeding infants and toddlers. Excerpts from five old publications which include information on customs from the peasant culture surrounding new mothers, breast feeding, weaning the baby and the baby’s first foods. Cited here are: Ethnographia 1899: Richter Magyar István: beliefs about the infant in Németpróna/Nitrianske Pravno (Slovakia). Szendrey Zsigmond – Szendrey Ákos: Magyarság Néprajza 4. 1937: Caring for the infant, breast feeding, weaning. Ecsedi István 1935: Eating habits of Hungarians of Debrecen and the Tisza River regions. Kardos Ferenc 1943: Folk eating habits of Hungary’s Őrség region. Kapros Márta 1986: Customs and beliefs related to birth in the Ipoly/Ipeľ River region (Slovakia). By Juhász Katalin.