Kóka Rozália’s mission in life has been to make the culture, fate and difficult – sometimes tragic – history of the Bukovina Székely Hungarians known – while actively preserving their traditions and culture. This is her own ethnic group and she has dedicated her life to the task. Halász Péter who has worked with her for more than 55 years wrote this tribute to her and her work which appeared as the forward for the book: Kóka Rozália: Bukovina Székely [people on history’s path] (Fekete Sas, 2021.) and is reprinted here in celebration of Rozália’s 80th birthday. By Halász Péter.
From story teller to organizer of a story telling contest: Kóka Rozália. Rozália tells the path of her life – as regards to traditional story telling, her ethnographic work collecting traditional tales, her publications of tales and a more recent project of organizing a yearly story telling contest in Transylvania’s Gyimes region. Kóka Rozália’s ethnographic work began with collecting tales from her Bukovina Székely relatives and neighbors in the village she grew up in: Felsőnána, Tolna County, Hungary. This writing was first published in: Népmesék szóban, írásban, képben. Editor: Tóth Gábor, published by Hungarian Poetry Readers Association. Budapest, 2020.
Choreographer Novák Ferenc Tata’s letter to the editors: Tata reacts to the 2022 special issue of folkMAGazin which marked the 50th anniversary of the first dance house held in Budapest. The special issue included photographs from the travelling photo exhibition called "Táncház 50" and writings on the dance house movement by Sebő Ferenc, Berán István and Both Miklós. Tata writes, "They have committed a serious ethical error in not making proper mention of…the names of those who first had the idea of holding a dance house in Budapest and then made it happen. They are Foltin Jolán, Lelkes Lajos and Stoller Antal Huba – Tata’s students. Tata made his first trip to Szék in 1958 when he was still an ethnography student. Later on, in the late 1960s, he took the above-mentioned students there to see a dance house in Szék. The idea for a Budapest dance house came from that trip. The first Budapest dance house was held in May 1972.
New recording: Balogh Melinda and Bősze Tamás Jean-Pierre "Tündér Ilona és Árgyélus” – Fonó 2022. "They’ve created a magical musical world for the tale…of a tree bearing golden apples that blooms for everyone – you just have to believe in it..." Music is inspired by Hungarian folk music and includes melodies from various regions of Transylvania. Singer Balogh Melinda and Bősze Tamás Jean-Pierre (voice, coboz, drum, hit cello) are featured with Szilágyi Tóni (violin, accordion), Sára Csobán (wooden flute, saxophone), Csoóri Sándor jr. (viola).
With the recent passing of Kossuth Award recipient, acclaimed folk music educator and folk flutist Béres János 1930–2022, folkMAGazin prints this interview from 2015 in which Béres tells about his professional life. He was a dancer, then also flute player with the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble from the moment it was founded (1951), later he led his own folk dance group. From the 1950’s on, he worked actively towards lifting the status and level of folk music instruction in Budapest and in Hungary. Interview by Grozdits Károly.
The artwork of painter Czene Béla – Part Two. Excerpts from a book by art historian Molnos Péter published in 2022 by Móra Kiadó. Recently a large number of Czene’s paintings were ’discovered’ in the family attic. Czene Béla, 1911–1999, studied art in Budapest and in Rome. “Czene’s work looked neither to the west, nor to the east, rather, he drew from the past, from his ancestors in the tiny villages of Gömör, the farms on the Hungarian plain, the peasant towns…” This section tells about Czene’s participation in large exhibitions in Budapest during the first half of the 1940s naming specific works with peasant life themes that he showed during the period. By 1944 his works were “…like rugs or frescos….they grow beyond the canvas and seem to demand a wall”. Czene was able to avoid military service for most of this time (WWII), but was finally drafted at the end of the war. He found a good situation as portrait painter for the commanding officers, but soon became a prisoner of war then escaped just before being sent to Siberia to do hard labor.
Literary Column – Borbála’s Carnival – a short story by writer and journalist Lokodi Imre (born 1963). A story about the returning ghost of Baron Janicsay’s daughter Borbála, and bachelors that can’t sleep at night. Borbála was said to have a greedy, discontented nature and she liked the cowboys on her father’s estate…
A Hungarian Gypsy musician’s WWI journal. Fiddler Munczy Béla Jr kept a journal during his service on the front in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The Munczy family had settled in Western Hungary in the Sopron area at the end of the 18th century as agricultural laborers. Documentation affirms that in the 19th century the family made their living by playing music. Gypsy musicians didn’t have to fight on the front line, they played music for the officers for little or no pay. The journal provides important information on history of Hungary’s Gypsy musicians. Historian and archivist D. Szakács Anita prepared the manuscript for publication. Review by Dr. Hajnáczky Tamás.
New Recording: "Bandázó Mezőföld”. Released by the Alba Regia Folk Dance Association, a group of sixteen people perform on the recording presenting the folk music of the Mezőföld region which is located roughly in Hungary’s Fejér County. The CD was made especially for folk dance groups and folk dance teachers. See announcement in Hungarian for email address to order.
An assignment for students at the Hungarian Academy of Dance has been to analyze choreographies with themes of folk customs. Their task is to explain differences between the source materials and the adaptation for stage. Some more successful analyses will be published in folkMAGazin. In this issue is Pásztor Zalán’s anaylsis of Deffend Irén’s choreography entitled: “Funeral of the Double Bass”. Announcement by Sándor Ildikó.
Sági Mária: A táncház (first published in Valóság 1978/5). Sági Mária examines aesthetic questions posed by the (at the time) relatively new dance house movement. The long article (re-published in two parts in folkMAGazin 2022/6 and 2023/1) relied on studies made at the Sebő Club in 1976 where club participants filled out questionnaires on seven consecutive club evenings. The ‘Sebő Club’ was held at the Kassák Community Center in Budapest’s 14th district. The goal of the Sebő Club was to present ‘city folk music and Hungarian poetry set to folk music’ in a club atmosphere. Sági’s article discusses: Why did the youth (of the time) accept/adopt folk art? The various directions within the dance house movement. How can peasant traditions become part of everyday life for today’s [urban] youth? Could the youth develop a complete world view through folk art? Will folk art lose its content in the process and become something like popular hit entertainment? At the time, thousands of youth were seeking out folk art [in the Budapest dance houses] and trying to make it real. Sági Mária writes on trends and values in Hungarian theatre and culture, sociology, psychology, music psychology, aesthetics, personality, homeopathy and natural healing.
P. Vas János’ column: Old writings still interesting today. Superstition and beliefs from all over the Hungarian language area regarding animals – specifically: sparrows, the cuckoo, storks (stork dung is recommended for a broken foot), the sparrow owl (bird of ill-omen), snakes, frogs, bats (if you’re forgetful, always carry the heart of a bat with you), moles, rabbits, wolves (if you feed wolf heart to your cow she’ll give plenty of milk and butter for seven years). From: From the book by Fazekas and Székely. Magvető Kiadó, Budapest. 1990. (based on Szendrey and Szendrey’s dictionary of superstitions)
The first folkMAGazin came together (including financing and material) through a combined effort in only a month and a half in 1994. It went to press in time for the 1994 Táncháztalálkozó… Participating organizations, groups, and individuals had met and agreed that a magazine for dance house musicians, dancers, and participants was needed. Memories of the process by Nagy Zoltán (folk musician, member of the founding group of editors).
Kóka Rozália’s new series: Moldavian Csángó Hungarian tales. Her first trip to Moldavia to collect ethnographic material was in 1969. After that she went every year to do field work, but in 1995 she went to Moldavia to collect tales for the first time. In the village of Pusztina/Pustiana she collected tales from two woman: Barta Mihályné and László Istvánné. She published the tales collected in her 2019 book: "Aranytojás". This series presents the tales from her book. Reprinted here is a story of a young couple that lived happily with their son. Their next door neighbor was a bitter old woman who would have liked the husband of the young couple to marry her daughter. This is the story of what happened when the old woman lied to the husband about what his wife did all day when he was working in the fields.
New publication: Szilvay Gergely: Józan részegség [Sober drunkeness] – a collection of interviews with participants of the dance house movement. L’Harmattan. Budapest. 2022. In addition to presenting the beauty and richness of Hungarian folk music and folk dance, Szilvay conveys the interviewees’ feeling of responsibility for Hungarian and/or universal culture. Through the interviews focusing on the dance house movement of the 2010s, we also become familiar with the questions that concerned the founders of the movement. Szilvay Gergely (born 1983) has become chronicler of the dance house movement of the present. Szilvay, a journalist with Mandiner media group, holds a doctorate in political theory and has been an active participant in the dance house movement. Review by Rosonczy-Kovács Mihály.
Kóka Rozália’s new column: Kiböjtölés – a folk custom involving several days or weeks of complete fasting and praying to rid oneself of some bad luck or bad feelings, or to wish approriate punishment on someone who has wronged you. In this account an old woman in the village of Felsőnána, Tolna County, Hungary talks about ’fasting out’ the daughter-in-law that beat her. According to the old woman if you do the fasting right, what you wish for, will happen. Between 1968 and 1970 Kóka Rózália collected 150 stories about this custom practiced amongst Székely people in Hungary’s Tolna, Baranya and Bács-Kiskun Counties.
Food and Hungarian Heritage – discusses a TV series of documentary films on traditional dishes and cuisine specific to particular Hungarian villages or regions. The two main organizations that make decisions on the ranking of traditional foods in Hungary are UNESCO and the so-called "Hungarikum" Committee. To be economical, self sufficient and to produce all your own foods is part of Hungarian food culture. Economical winter recipes provided are: winter squash soup with farina dumplings, winter squash casserole, vegetable soup with homemade dumplings, vegetable soup made from the water left over from boiling potatoes, potato gnocchi style pasta, dumpling soup and potato doughnuts. By ethnographer Juhász Katalin.
By Sue Foy