Conversation with Novák Ferenc „Tata” The famously outspoken and brilliant director of the professional folk dance theatre, the Honvéd Ensemble will celebrate his 70th birthday on March 27th. This personality, who has played in key role in Budapest's amatuer and professional folk dance movements since at least the sixties, muses on himself, his work, his children, his life and his plans for the future. Happy Birthday Tata! By Hollókői Lajos
Kocsán László from the town of Jászberény (approx. 60 km due east of Budapest) gives us a sample of his process of reconstructing the local traditional dances of his area. The subject here is the verbunk. The sources discussed are historical references to the music and soldiers dancing this dance and a film of the dance existing in the archives of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences which, since filming in the field in 1952, frustratingly enough no one yet has been able to view it because of a technical problem.
Kocsis Rózsi: My soul is an open book. Confessions of a mother. Autobiographical writings by a peasant woman from a Transylvanian village. Through the prose and poetry of this woman, the reader can learn everything about what the everyday life in a Transylvanian agrarian village is like – from the social system, the traditional crafts and daily work to the inner emotions of a mother in this society with a retarded son. Published in Hungarian by European Folklore Institute and L'Harmattan Kiadó, Budapest, 2000.
A report on the activities of the „Tiszta Forrás” (Pure Source) Foundation and Kincső Folk Dance Ensemble over the five years since their establishment in the village of Zseliz in Slovakia, 30 km north of Esztergom. The work of these organizations over the past five years has brought together a steady stream of people, events, tours, workshops and gatherings, with great successes and results in boosting Hungarian culture in this region. Please note that maintenence of such Hungarian cultural organizations and activities in Slovakia is always tricky, and these groups admit to feeling a bit tired at the moment, probably from the stress of this, despite their prolific and successful past five years. By Mézes Árpád.
Letter to Borbély Jolán „Joli Néni” from Dreisziger Kálmán in Montreal, Canada. After the success of a staging/ reconstruction of a Sárköz wedding for an event in Montreal in November 2000, Kálmán thanks Joli Néni for the wealth of ideas and information she contributed during a bus ride back to Budapest from a Dunamenti Festival in Hungary about eight years ago, when Kálmán first thought up this plan.
Kiss Ida congratulates the Bokréta Ensemble of Montreal, Életfa Ensemble of New York and Dreisziger Kálmán on the Sárköz wedding event held in Montreal, Canada, which reportedly gave the audience/guests the feeling of excitement and celebration of a real three day wedding. From „Magyar Krónika". Montreal. November 10, 2000.
A new school for the folk arts (traditional music, dance and handcrafts) was established in September 2000 in the village of Üröm on the northwest outskirts of Budapest. With an enrollment of over 150 school age children and a teaching staff including well-known Budapest táncház musicians Csoóri Sándor, Havasréti Pál and Lányi György, the school proudly reports great success of the student concert at the end of the first semester.
Takács András reports on the success of the November 30th, 2000 premiere of the Szőttes Chamber Folk Ensemble's new program. The concert, held in Pozsony (Bratislava), Slovakia, presented the ensemble's new full length program. The new program features dances from other parts of the Carpathian Basin, mainly Transylvania and along the Tisza River – branching out from the usual material of their native Felvidék (the northern Hungarian language area) which this group is heretofore famous for. Choreography by Németh Ildikó/Szabó Szilárd, music by Koncz Gergely/Lakatos Róbert.
Traditional Hungarian Lenten and Easter Cuisine This article by Juhász Katalin tells about foods traditionally eaten during Lent (no meat – vegetables and maybe milk products) and Easter (earlier lamb, now more often ham, eggs, etc), and about related religious and folk beliefs and customs, offering a few recipes as well. References from as early as the 7th Century up to the 20th Century, with regional and religious differences/similarities in the customs.
Conversation with dr. Nagy Olga, journalist, writer, ethnographer, collector of folk tales and mother from Kolozsvár (Cluj) Transylvania who recently celebrated her 80th birthday. „..until the end of the 70s, living folk tales could still be found here...mostly men told each other stories...women told stories at spinning bees...not everything a person said could really be believed ....my Győri Klára was one of those....her stories were sometimes gossip, sometimes fiction, sometimes about something that happened or just jokes...but always reveal the [traditional] peasant scale of values...” Interview by Krekity Olga, printed in a Hungarian newspaper in Northern Serbia
Ojanna – Kanalas Éva's Sound Theatre Many things are said here about this CD such as: „unusual sounds...sometimes reminiscent of jazz...Éva playing, drumming, rattling out feelings which arise while singing...going back to Hungarian tradition....shamanistic singing technique...possible healing powers of singing...” Záhonyi András recommends this recording to all folk music fans ready for musical experiment.
Szék Journal „We lived as man and wife for 25 years, during which time our eight sons were born and 6 cows died", said an 87 year old widow from this Transylvanian village about her husband. This and other tidbits from this village by Soós János. Sue Foy – as usual, all names of people here (except mine), have been written „the Hungarian way", with the family name preceeding the given name.
Between March 27 and April 2, 2001, a festival was organized in Budapest for professional dance ensembles and ensembles from outside of the Hungarian borders. The week culminated with a gala program at the State Opera House in celebration of the the State Ensemble's 50th anniversary. During the week there were workshops and performances by all participating ensembles with professional opinion offered after performances by Novák Ferenc, Zsuráfszky Zoltán and Sebő Ferenc. Participating ensembles: from Budapest: the Honvéd, Budapest, BM Duna and the State Ensembles. From Pozsony (Bratislava), the Szőttes and Ifjú Szívek. From Topolya the Cirkalom Ensemble. From Transylvania the Maros Ensemble, Udvarhely Dance Workshop, Haromszék Dance Ensemble and Hargita National Székely Folk Ensemble. From the Ukraine, the Derceni Gyöngyösbokréta. A comment made by spokesman for the Harghita ensemble regarding the authentic style: „Anyone who doesn't like it, should have ten mothers in law". Review by Záhonyi András
"Hagyományok Háza” – (house of tradition) – Charter of foundation The institution housed at Corvin tér 8 in Budapest has, as of January 1, 2001, been renamed and begun reorganization under a new governmental ruling as a „central budgetary organ” relating to the upkeep of State Folk Ensemble, the many arms of institutions surrounding it and the protection the [Hungarian] Folk Arts. The actual charter appears to have been printed here citing the law and related regulations, with 9 points and signature by Rockenbauer Zoltán Minister of National Cultural Heritage.
From táncház to remix Ghymes is a Hungarian band from Slovakia where the band members still live. In the wave of popularity of the dance house movement, they formed their band in 1983 and have been playing Hungarian folk music ever since. In this interview with Szarka Tamás, the band's lead violin player, there is a lot of discussion about the changing character of their music. Over the last couple of years the band has enjoyed more and more popularity amongst a wider and wider audience. Their most recent CD „Smaragdváros” [Emerald city] is being handled by EMI and is currently being distributed in six eastern countries. They are now number 11 on the radio world music hit lists. With their music they want to reach a wider and wider audience. As Szarka Tamás put it, „maybe we are dancing on a knife blade, because we are using a lot of drum and synthesizer....this is the way we like it.” Interview by Abkarovits Endre
A review of the literature on traditional children's games of the Jászság region of central Hungary – east of Budapest. By Kocsán László of Jászberény
Sipos János's book „Kazakh Folksongs from Two Ends of the Steppe” has been published by the Akadémiai Kiadó in Budapest and judging by its English title, perhaps is even in English (though this does not become clear through the article here). It is accompanied by a CD with the most characteristic melodies collected on two research trips. The article printed here is gives us a taste of the author's trip to Mangistau in 1997 to do field research.
Soós János from the village of Szék gives some history and a description of the local custom for sending boys off to serve in the military. Roughly it consists of three days of singing and eating by the men and young men in the local pub, finally culminating with dancing, more eating at home and then at dawn the father accompanies his son to the central square of town where the new recruits gather and sing before setting off for their military service.
Sebestyén Márta was the guest of the Gajdos Klub in the town of Eger for an informal evening of conversation-interview and music in January 2001. During the evening, her childhood, her parents, how she met Sebő Ferenc and began to perform, the film music for „The English Patient” and the Deep Forest recording were subjects of conversastion. When asked what it is like to have such popularity, how much of a burden it has been and how it has changed her life, in reply Márta mentioned that „it's like, when someone is sitting in a room doing whatever they usually do and then one time a ray of light falls upon them". She is doing what she has always done and she still loves doing it. By Abkarovits Endre
Bartók's dream has been realized – the „Pátria” recordings Announcing 3 CD ROMs of Hungarian traditional music. Music recorded on gramophone by Bartók, Kodály and Lajtha – a project completed in the early 1940's – has now been released on CD ROM organized into the three larger dialect regions. Series editor: Sebő Ferenc
The Final Hour Project – Hungary series A comprehensive project to document traditional music still played by village bands from all over the Hungarian language area. The project began in 1997, first covering Transylvania, then continued with so-called „Felvidék” (Hungarian inhabited Slovakia) and shall ultimately include all Hungarian areas of the Carpathian Basin. The recording period is slated for completion in Dec. 2001. The project is hosted by the Fonó in Budapest, where the initial recordings and documentations are made of each band invited. See list in the Hungarian article of villages in process now. Project director – Kelemen László
Nostalgia concert in Debrecen The first of a series of folk music concerts in the town of Debrecen in northeastern Hungary. The underlying theme of this first concert seems to have been Rőmer Ottó's 50th birthday. Of all four bands (Délibab, Gereben, Karikás, Morotva) celebrated here, the common denominator was Rőmer Ottó, who has since 1970 been an active musician, music teacher and inspirational energy in the area. Article by Juhász Erika
A Hungarian's thoughts on returning from a trip to Ireland. For whatever reason, most Hungarians feel some sort of special kinship to the Irish and no one would pass up the opportunity to visit Ireland and then report back at home on their adventures. A few points from this article: The Hungarians say, „A nation lives in its language". It has also been said, „a nation lives in its music". In a country like Ireland that almost lost its native language, it has however kept its musical mother tongue....and music is in the people's blood, while at the same time they are espeically open to new, outside influences... By Abkarovits Endre
Ifj. Vitányi Iván has a few words of practical advice on performance contracts for folk musicians.
Conversation with Kelemen László, director of the Hungarian Heritage House. Here Kelemen stresses the Carpathian Basin (which means the entire Hungarian language area as opposed to just the political borders of Hungary itself) as a direction in plans for the work of this institution. Currently he has cut back on his other activities so that he can concentrate on the challenges of his post which officially began on July 1. The Hungarian Heritage House is located at Corvin tér in Buda, though in two years, construction of a new building is planned for completion. Kelemen tells of many plans here, including development of a network of archives, dance houses, training programs thoughout the Hungarian language area. By K. Tóth László
Pesovár Erno is 75 years old. Mr. Pesovár is the author of four books considered to be amongst the handbooks on Hungarian folk dance, he has been awarded the highest state honours for someone in his field, he is an ethnographer, choreographer, professor, academician. Among many other things of interest here in this interview, I liked his overview of the trends in Hungarian folk dance choreography through the decades of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Interview by Varga Lajos Márton, which appeared in Nép szabadság, 2001. September 5.
On June 20, 2001 a group called „Ordasok” performed at the „Budai Vigadó” at Corvin tér in Budapest. The group and a new choreography are both the brain child of Sára Ferenc. The name of the new choreography can be translated as ..."men's dances and laments from Kalotaszeg", which is what is was. Sára's well-picked group of five men who all sing as well as they dance, along with musicians who were able to do justice to this music – carried off this choreography brilliantly. The result – a lot of men's dance, a lot of singing, a lot of music and the kind of performance that Sára is able to get out of people – energy, with a feeling of raw talent that isn't affected. It worked. Záhonyi András offers his commentary on the event.
Thoughts after attending the fourth annual camp for dance and music in Hungarian Moldavia. On the far side of the Carpathian mountains, lie the villages of the Moldavian Csangó people – an isolated group of Hungarians living in the depths of Romania. This group of people have an extremely rich culture and traditional life amidst economic poverty. In addition to local music and dance, the participants experienced the local people, crafts, tales and much more during the camp. By Benko András
On Sundays since the July 6th opening ceremonies of a place called „Millenáris Park", in Budapest, a series of events called „The Regions” has presented local dances, music and customs from various regions inhabited by Hungarians. Záhonyi András' observations and comments on some groups arriving from Transylvania.
Takács András (Hungarian dance researcher from Slovakia) congratulates a new professional Hungarian dance group in Bratislava, the „Ifjú Szívek", on their debut performance last spring. This group of talented performers have inherited a tradition begun in 1956 by an ensemble of college students in the same city. The Ifjú Szívek perform Hungarian dance on a high level of expertise and artistry. Their performances feature dances of their native „Felvidék” (Hungarian Slovakia), Hungary and Transylvania.
Announcement of publication of a book cataloging the traditional village dancers that have been awarded the title of „Masters of Folk Art” – a title bestowed on extraordinary folk artists by the Hungarian state since 1953. The book has been published in 2001 in cooperation between the Hungarian Heritage House, Center for European Folklore and Insitute of Musicology. It gives biographical information on each dance personality and provides a listing of the written, audio and visual materials existing in the Hungarian archives on each person. The volume was edited by Felföldi László and Gombos András (and will also be published in English).
Announcement for a book by Farkas Zoltán, a.k.a. „Batyu” soon to be released by Panétás Kiadó (Press). This will be Batyu's newest offering on methodology for teaching Hungarian dance and a summary of his 25 years of experience performing, choreographing and teaching Hungarian ethnic dance. „..the essence of this playfulness lies in always breaking the movements down to the basic elements and then practicing them using space and rhythm creatively...” Fügedi János – leading dance notation expert
Music journalist, Marton László Távolodó on: What is world music? Amongst others quoted here with a variety of answers...Frank London of the Klezmatics said the following, „...I think world music is a marketing question....but the way I look at it, all music is world music. Bartók and Beethoven too. And if we listen to rock music or techno, they are a kind of folk music or world music....".
Hungarian Jazz Conversation with Dresch Dudás Mihály „I never wanted to deny that I was born and live here (in Hungary): I see this as my fate – which I live out at times happily, and other times with despair". Dresch is an extraordinary jazz saxophonist who has spent the past perhaps 15 years allowing Hungarian village music to find its way into his own brand of what is probably best described as free jazz. Inspirations and influences he mentions here...Johnny Griffin, John Coltrane, Szabados György, music at village celebrations from his youth. Interview by Marton László Távolodó
Interview with Csík János – leader and fiddler of the Csík Band, from the town of Kecskemét in the Hungarian plain. As the band prepares a new record for release and in the wave of performances representing Hungary at the Olympics in Sydney, Csík talks about repertorie, his band and dance houses in Hungary's countryside. By Abkarovits Endre
The Barozda Ensemble celebrates its 25th anniversary. Barozda formed in the fall of 1976 to become first táncház band in the Székelyföld area of Transylvania. The anniversary celebration will be a two day event in the town of Csíkszereda in Romania on October 26–27, with concerts, performances and dance house with former band members and friends.
Molnár Miklós fiddler with the Ökrös Band strikes out in response to some stereotypical public opinions about folk musicians, and the existence of a certain wall between upper class society and the folk musician. He begins with a quote „why do they always have to go to the west to play, can't they play at home?” and then ends his commentary with, „But when the newspaper prints an article about the ragged little peasant band from home performing with the Philidelphia Orchestra, those talking from their high horse immediately begin clearing their throats."
Káplár Tamás: discusses some of his opinions about Budapest táncház behavior, etiquette, repertoire.
Conversation with Kallós Zoltán. In celebration of Kallós' 75th birthday, Abkarovits Endre went to Transylvania to seek him out for an interview. They finally met in Kallós' Kolozsvár home. At 75, Kallós has spent his life collecting traditional music in Transylvania, providing a wealth of guiding information and inspiration to generations of researchers, musicians, dancers, ethnographers. He is now deeply involved in organizing camps and workshops in Transylvania, setting up a foundation and museum, gradually arranging for release of one recording at a time from the huge amount of musical material he has collected throughout the years, all over Transylvania. This is a process of making his extensive collections of folk objects and music available to others while organizing opportunities for the youth of Transylvania to relearn and/or appreciate their own traditional music and culture. An amazing person.
III. Hungarian Dance House Festival in Vienna. 2001 November 10. The festival featured performances by the Csík Band, Gajdos and Galga ensembles, Haránt Esther, Lukács Laci, Gémesi Zoli, Sóskuti Edit, the Szőttes Dance Ensemble (Bratislava, Slovakia), Muszka György and Ilonka, Neti Sanyi, his son, and band from Transylvania, the Napraforgók Dance Ensemble (Vienna, Austria) and many others, followed by táncház afterwards. Report by Henics Tamás
Pesovár Ernő The list of activities, projects, publications, collaborations, positions, posts, awards and ongoing work that include the name of this key figure in Hungarian dance ethnography, history and research is awe-inspiring. Felföldi László has compiled a summary thereof, in greeting Mr. Pesovár at his 75th birthday.
Lévai Péter comments on folk dance as a part of school curriculum in Hungary. The article starts by asking: is it possible to live without dance? ...(or music for that matter...). The answer: Yes. But what's the point?
Announcemnt of a new choreography of the Hargita National Székely Folk Ensmeble, a dance company in Transylvania. Theme of the new work is the ancient magic stag myth of origin related to the winter solstice. Premiere of the new piece was in early November, 2001. By Orza Călin – choreographer
An inventory of the Final Hour project. This December marks the end of a project documenting traditional village music to be found today in areas inhabited by Hungarians. The project began in 1997. During this time the repertoires of 47 bands from Transylvania, 25 Bands from Slovakia and 40 bands from Ukraine, Western Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary have been documented in the studios of the Fonó Music Hall in Budapest. Each week a different band was brought from a different village. A total of 1250 CDs worth of material has been recorded for archival purposes and 15 CDs of selections from specific areas of Transylvania have been prepared for commercial release. More CDs of the material collected, are planned for commercial release under the Új Pátria series title. A complete listing of the villages (accompanied by the old county names used by the Hungarian researchers, but not by contemporary map-makers) covered within this program can be found in the Hungarian article. Report by Árendás Péter
Book release – Etnofon Kiadó 2001. Moldavian Instrumental Tunes. The Óbuda Folkmusic School Series Accompanied by CD of examples. Review by Sándor Ildikó
On October 26th and 27th, 2001, an event was held in the town of Csíkszereda in Transylvania. The occaision was the 25th anniversary of the formation of a band called Barozda. This band is no longer in existence, but it was one of the first bands of dance house movement in Transylvania. Most of its members have left Transylvania: they are living now in places like Sweden, Germany and Hungary. The event was a reunion and a chance to perform together again. Many people whose names are well known today in these circles and beyond as researchers, musicians, teachers and singers were connected with this band or joined in this celebration as friends and contemporaries of the band. Allegedly 700–800 people attended and the party lasted until the next day. In this issue, the event is covered by the conversation with Györfi Erzsébet (singer). By Abkarovits Endre.
Soós János, though he now lives in Budapest, is from the Transylvanian village of Szék, where he worked as a teacher in the Hungarian language elementary school there from 1981–1988. Here is a sample of what it was like to live in 99 % ethnically Hungarian Szék during the time of the Ceasescu dictatorship (a regime not fond of ethnic Hungarians), the hardships imposed upon the citizens, and the nasty traps devised by the secret police (even the wall had ears then) to „catch” the Szék residents in the act of thinking of themselves as Hungarian'. Those caught in such traps were often times fined, sometimes even put in prison. To illustrate, is the story of a group of teachers, parents and students tired of unheated classrooms during the tough winter of 1985, who finally took it upon themselves to get some firewood...
Dance personalities: Szappanos Lukács of Kunszentmiklós (1886–1973). A short portrait of the life of this traditional dancer. He was a great dancer, local personality and organizer of local dance groups and events. His dancing (the local verbunk variants in particular) has been studied, documented, placed in the archives and awarded by the state. List of references in Hungarian article. Felföldi László, Gombos András.
Kocsán László – on the verbunk of the Jászság area (part II). In Kocsán's continuing quest of reconstructing the nearly lost dances of the Jászság area, here he makes use of historical accounts of cavalry and soldiers from the area from the period of the early 1700's til the 1850's. Dance historians have stated that a method used for recruiting soldiers for the armies during that period was the men's dance: the verbunk. Therefore historical background supports the probable existence of verbunk in the Jászság area. Furthermore there is film footage from 1952 of man from the region dancing a verbunk, which has recently, with the help of modern technology, become usable for reseach. A summary of the results of this reseach has been presented in the form of a dance performed at a festival in northeastern Hungary in October 2001.
K. Tóth László reports on the rising value of folk art items at the Budapest antique market auctions.
Part I – Moldavian Csángó bagpipe players. Dr. Stuber György has been going to the Hungarian villages of Romanian Moldavia since the early 1970's collecting information on bagpipes – an instrument that is very nearly extinct in that area. Over the years he has amassed an enormous amount of information on the musicians, their instrument, the repertoire – some of which he shares with us here. In this article dr. Stuber György also discusses at some length his complaints against Tobak Ferenc a Hungarian bagpipe player and maker who presently resides in California. Stuber's charges against Tobak include plagerism (misuse of Stuber's manuscript), poor handling of informant rapport (paying off informants so that they won't allow others to make documentary recordings of them), and more. (There must be a more graceful way of sharing field work results amongst colleagues. SF)
Abkarovits Endre writes on the village of Torockó in the Kalotaszeg area of Transylvania. Some historical, ethnographical, touristic information on this village that has through help from experts of Budapest's fifth district and financial assistance for historical momuments have done enough restoration to win the Europa Nostra award in 1999 and set up village tourism there. All of this however has apparantly given the village a rather museum-like atmosphere.
Announcing: 21st National Dance House Festival and Market 2002. March, 16 and 17. Budapest: SAP Events Hall and Körcsarnok (at the „Népstadion” metro stop)