The 23rd National Solo Folk Dance Competition was held on January 10th, 2017 in Békescsaba, Hungary. The jury gave 21 kinds of awards to outstanding dancers – including the coveted “golden pearl” and “golden spurs” awards for excellence as a folk solo dancer. Bacsó Lilla was named best all-around women’s dancer and Németh Antal as best all-round men’s dancer. See list in Hungarian for names of all winners.
Collecting folk song and music in Transylvania in the 1970s in a Trabant. This account tells of first going to Kallós Zoltán in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) for guidance and advice on where to go and who to look for. Also touching on the political atmosphere of the time, we read about meeting traditional musicians and dancers in the villages and regions Kallós sent them to: Gyimes, Moldavia, Vajdakamarás/ Vaida-Cămăraș, Szék/Sic, where the narrator saw “traditional dance and costume in its natural environment for the first time – and realized that dance had its own strict order and system – even though [he’d] been ‘dancing’ in Szeged University’s Folk Dance Group for 2–3 years....” By Simoncsics János.
New Publication: Jávorszky Béla Szilárd: SEBŐ 70 (includes CD). Kossuth Kiadó, Budapest 2017. ISBN: 9789630987103. “Sebő 70” is a book celebrating Sebő Ferenc and his life’s work as a musician, instigator, key figure and moving force of the dance house movement, folk music researcher and university professor. Sebő stated at the beginning of the 1970s that... “we would like to learn the peasant folk culture that gave a framework and form of expression for village folks – so we can create a city folk music, that could become the basis for a city community and form of expression for young people...”.
The First Festival of Western European Hungarian Folk Dance Groups was held November 25–27, 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany. Seven Hungarian dance groups from Germany, Switzerland and France attended and performed. Live music was provided by Juhász Band and Kolompos Ensemble. There were performances, jury discussion, sessions for ensemble directors, dance houses. Szűcs Gábor and Urbán Mária directors of the Jászság Ensemble (Jászberény, Hungary) provided professional support, consultation and feedback for participating groups. Report by Hortobágyi Ivett.
Interviews with members of Barozda Ensemble: Barozda formed in the 1970s in Transylvania. They were active there until the ensemble members under pressure from the Romanian authorities left Romania in the late 1980s to relocate in Hungary and Western Europe. Barozda stayed together, playing when they could, both abroad and after 1989 in Tranyslvania. They gave a 40th anniversary concert in October of 2016 in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The band was more than instrumental in starting the dance house movement in Transylvania in the second half of the 1970s. By Péterbencze Anikó.
Bartók, Kodály and 2 Szokolays. This is a music review which starts out from a concert of “contemporary folk music” that was performed at the Academy of Music in Budapest on April 12, 2016 featuring Rost Andrea (voice), Csík János (voice), Szokolay Balázs (piano), Szokolay Dongó Balázs (flute, bagpipe), Havasréti Pál (hurdy-gurdy, hit cello), and the Szent Efrém Men’s Choir (Dir: Bubnó Tamás). Includes commentary on recent work of Szokolay Dongó Balázs (saxophonist, flute and bagpipe player) who comes from folk music, but is experimenting with other formations and concerts pairing Hungarian folk music artists with classical artists and forms. By Kiss Ferenc.
Count Batthyány Gyula (1887–1959)’s drawings from Márianosztra Prison. Batthyány was a Hungarian painter and graphic artist. His works are in the collections of the Hungarian National Gallery and other museums around the world. Amongst the chaos of the communist regime following WWII, Batthyány was imprisoned for 3 years, but was permitted to draw and paint while there. Only recently an album of his drawings from that time came to light and was exhibited at the Kieselbach Gallery in Budapest in 2015. By Molnos Péter.
In December 2016, the Páll family, active traditional potters of the Transylvanian village of Korond / Corund received the Hungarian Heritage Award. In 2011 Páll Agoston of the same family received the Intangible Cultural Heritage award also in recognition of his work as a traditional Transylvanian potter. Several generations of the Páll family have been well-known both locally and abroad for their beautiful pottery. Printed here is the laudation by Szatmári Ferenc, given at the December 2016 award ceremony.
Novák Ferenc Tata discusses Hungary’s pension for professional dancers. Since 2012 only professional ballet dancers from 4 professional ensembles receive the Hungarian state pension after 25 years of performing on stage. There is presently action to change the law to include dancers from 3 professional folk dance ensembles and Budapest’s Operetta Theatre who have performed for 25 years. Novák also mentions the need for dance critics that can write intelligently about folk dance. By Szentei Anna (first published in: Magyar Demokrata, 2016 December 7.)
Epiphany in Kalofer, Bulgaria. Today Bulgarians in Kalofer celebrate the Epiphany (aka: 12th day, January 6th). The custom involves bagpipe and tapan (drum) and a line of men dressed in local traditional costume in the early morning. The men are singing. A cross is dropped into the icy water of the Tundzsa River by the local priest. It is retrieved and given to a young boy. Then the men dance the horo in the water. This event is well attended by the local media and population and has a large festival atmosphere. This year Hungarian ethnographer Juhász Katalin attended and reports on the festival.
2017 is the year of Saint László (1040–1095) – marking the 940th anniversary of the coronation of Hungary’s King László I. (aka: Ladislaus I, etc.) and the 825th anniversary of his sainthood. By Kóka Rozália.
Farewells to Antal Zoltán – traditional fiddler, singer of Gyimesközéplok/Lunca de Jos, Transylvania, Romania. He died on February 28, 2017, was buried on March 2nd, he was 81 years old. He was known locally by the nicknames “Vak Zolti”, “Finánc Zolti” and was probably the last of the old generation of Gyimes fiddlers. In 2008 he was named Master of Folk Arts. He lost his sight as a child but fortunately had the ear and talent for music and an amazing memory, as well as the capacity also for doing all kinds of farm work despite his handicap. His music was documented by the most prominent traditional music researchers. By Halász Péter and Simoncsics János.
A summary of folk festivals in Slovakia 1952–2016 – festivals, sponsoring organizations (mainly CSEMADOK), dance ensembles and leading personalities are discussed and/or mentioned. Main venues for festivals over the years have been: Gombaszög/Gombasek, Zselíz/Želiezovce, Losonc/Lučenec, Strážnice, etc. Some festivals discussed were for Hungarian and other minority groups in Slovakia; some only for Hungarian folk culture of the region; some international. A presentation given by Takács András in Zselíz on June 10, 2016.
Record Review: Kiss Ferenc: Leánydicsérő [In Praise of Young Women] (Etnofon 2016). “Beautiful – a valuable record” This production presents the important moments of a women’s life, her fate – from birth to death through universal themes of search, friends, love, motherhood. The music speaks through folk music – sometimes archaic, other times recent past or the present. Kiss Ferenc’s production, first realized on stage (in 2015), is now a record with the Etnofon Music Consort and singers: Bognár Szilvia, Herczku Ágnes, Paár Julianna, Szalóki Ágnes. By Móser Ádám.
Finding Losonci János and Prekup Anna – traditional dancers of Bonchida/Bonțida (Transylvania). In 1993 Redő Júlia and György Károly were teaching dances of Bonchida at a summer camp in the nearby village of Visa. Towards the end of the camp, they went to Bonchida to see if they could find someone who would dance for them, so they could see the dance they’d been teaching all week – live. First person they found to dance was a disappointment. Drowning their sorrows in the Bonchida pub, by chance the man, Losonci János, who was in the film they’d been watching and learning from, was there in the pub. He went next door to get the woman dancer in the film, Prekup Anna; and then they danced. By Redő Júlia.
An imagined interview with Bartók Béla. The answers are based on Bartók’s writings, his works. The spirit of the thing is: ‘Wouldn’t it have been great to ask Bartók for his opinion on the role of folk music in today’s life?” The author, though never had the opportunity of meeting Bartók personally, means for this writing to be a mark of her deep respect for him and his legacy. By Fehér Anikó.
“Bukovina, Bukovina” – Excerpts from Kóka Rozália’s book in progress. Rozália remembers back to her childhood and first years of primary school. The teachers and other children called her and other children like her, “Csángó trash” to insult them. They were given thrashings in school by the teachers. Actually Rozália was Bukovina Székely and not Csángó. The Bukovina Székely people were newcomers in the village at the time (having been relocated there into the homes of the Swabian Germans that had been deported to Germany in the wake of WWII). Obviously there was animosity between the two ethnic groups in the Hungarian village.
New Publication: Virágvölgyi Márta: [Folk Music of the Kapus Region, the tunes of Viski Rudolf, fiddler from Gyalu/Gilău, Romania.] Published by Hungarian Heritage House. Budapest, 2017. The traditional music of the Kapus/Câpuşul creek area of Transylvania’s Kalotaszeg region bears marks of an older period with use of the small bass, three stringed viola and major accompaniment. Fiddler Viski Rudolf was born in 1912. The volume includes the transcribed tunes, information on the fiddler’s life, his playing technique, the mode of accompaniment and an accompanying CD.
The Dűvő Band launched their new CD “Hátra van még a java” (The Best is Yet to Come) with a concert in Solti Hall at Budapest’s Liszt Academy of Music on March 28, 2017. Band members are: Hrúz Dénes, Hrúz Szabolcs (violin); Mohácsy Albert (double bass); Nagy Zsolt (viola); Kubinyi Júlia (voice) ) – with Ürmös Sándor (cymbalom). Detailed, enthusiastic review by Szász József Árpád / Üsztürü.
New Recording – Dsupin Pál: Túl a vízen – Folk Music from the Gyergyó Region of Transylvania (the region surrounding the town of Gheorgheni, Harghita County, Romania). Following records released in 2011 (Berecz András) and in 2015 (Mrs. Erőss Sándor Judit) of traditional music from this region; the new 2016 recording presents local traditional musicians (playing with Dsupin Pál, Kádár Ignác, Szabó Dániel) and 26 local melodies. By 2011 the local traditional music had nearly been forgotten. The 2016 recording appears to be the latest step in encouraging a revival of the music of the region, in the region. Review by Juhász Erika.
Congratulations to recipients of the 2017 Martin György Award (a new state award) for outstanding work in the folk arts: Borbély Jolán, dr. Diószegi László, Héra Éva, Vavrinecz András!
Page 39 Traditional Hungarian Foods: “Szalonna” – pork fat is a staple of the traditional Hungarian kitchen. Bread and pork fat are basic foods eaten for breakfast, lunch, or supper. This article goes into some detail about customs surrounding which part of the slaughtered pig’s fat is used for what, the ways it is cut up and preserved, how it’s eaten and so on. Also described are the method for making pork cracklings, and the popular custom of roasting pig fat on the open fire. By Juhász Katalin.
1717 – The last Tartar invasion of Hungary: in August 1717 the Turkish Sultan ordered the Tartar army to invade Hungary from Moldavia. During the invasion the Tartars burned more than 200 villages, killed thousands of people, robbed, pillaged, took hundreds of hostages, caused panic and fear in Transylvania, Maramures and Northeastern Hungary. For example on August 24th the Tartars completely destroyed the village and killed three quarters of the population of Szék/Sic – famous at the time for its salt mine in Transylvania’s Mezőség region. However, due to the heroism of peasant and “kuruc” troops, the mountain guards and regional armies, within a few months the Tatars were defeated and driven out. By Nagy Ádám from October 31, 2015 at: magyar-historia.blogspot.hu.
The memory of the last Tatar invasion of 1717 is preserved in folk song, folk tales, folk literature: printed here are Szász Rozália’s story A “Fekete város” [The Black City] and Kovács István’s “Széki ének” [Song of Szék] – in memory of the last Tartar invasion.
Tribute to Halmos Béla (1946–2013) central figure of Hungary’s dance house movement; and memories of the early days of the dance house movement in Szeged. By Simoncsics János director of the Szeged International Folk Dance Festival and 2017 recipient of the Halmos Béla Commemorative Medal. The Friends of Hungarian Heritage House Association established the Halmos Béla Commemorative Medal to recognize superior professional and/or community activity within the dance house movement.
Another Fonó release, Cserepes Károly’s album “Blacklake” made the World Music Charts Europe toplist. The prestigious list is generated from votes of 50 world music radio experts from 24 countries. Every month the list is published at www.wmce.de. This is the only Hungarian album on the list for July - and the first Hungarian release to make the list over the last few months. Cserepes Károly’s album invites the listener on an imagined walk through the traditional regional market in Transylvania’s Feketetó/Negreni. He embeds traditional music in an unusual musical environment. Without changing them, folk music field recordings are woven into a new musical fabric. Blacklake (Fonó 2016) “…Cserepes Károly takes a different kind of approach to combining the modern and folk cultures, and not just on his new album, because he has already been successful at blending the electronic musical environment with folk music and folk song…” For this recording he used old recordings of music from the Feketetó/Negreni market held in Transylvania every fall for the last century or so. “…not only do the various ethnic groups’ music and songs find each other, but the modern electronic “soundpictures” sound as if a live DJ and the musicians were sensitively reacting to every vibration…” Rácz Mihály’s review from the blog: langologitarok.hu
Memoir: Mrs. Vágó József, Grozdits Olga (1932–2016) wrote down her own story of growing up in the village of Semse/Šemša near Kassa/Košice, today in eastern Slovakia, where her family worked for the local noble family and lived at the Semsey Estate. After primary school she went to a Hungarian Catholic school in the nearby city of Košice, later when the Hungarian school was closed, she attended Slovak Catholic school. This is a personal account of what it was like growing up in an ethnically mixed village and how the family lived through the years of WWII. After the war her family moved to Révfülöp on the northern shore of Hungary’s Lake Balaton and she continued her secondary schooling in Veszprém, then Szombathely in Hungary.
The Kallós Zoltán Museum and Folk Arts Center in the village of Válaszút/Răscruci, Romania held opening ceremonies on June 2nd, 2017. Válaszút, Kallós’s home village, has been the center of the work of the Kallós Foundation and summer folk music and dance camps for years, but thanks to funding from both Romania and Hungary they have been able to expand and build an additonal 300 square meters to house the museum, Kallós’s extensive collection and host activities towards preserving local folk arts. Opening speech by Pozsony Ferenc.
Remembering the work and personality of Maácz László (1929–1998) – ethnographer, museologist, dance ethnographer, dance historian, journalist, dance critic, editor of the periodical Táncművészet. Fuchs Lívia remembers working with Maácz (excerpt from Fügedi, Szélpál-Bajtai: Maácz). Kővágó Zsuzsa highlights a collection of Maácz’s autobiographical/dance history writings entitled "Találkozások a tánccal” [Meetings With Dance] as excellent examples of Maácz’s wit and unbelievably rich knowledge, scholarship and literary skill.
Allegro Barbaro – a concert with pianist Jandó Jenő and the Muzsikás Ensemble was held in Pécs, Hungary on May 30th, 2017, with guest artists: singer Petrás Mária and dancers: Farkas Zoltán, Tóth Ildikó. Allegro barbaro, BB 63 (Sz. 49), composed in 1911, is one of Bartók Béla's most famous solo piano pieces. Jandó played Bartók’s piece, Muzsikás played the original folk melodies the piece was based on. “The concert was ritual, magical, uplifting, transforming…” Review by Szávai József.
Hungary’s Saint László – Historical legend about Saint László’s deeds, the Kun invasion of Hungary, making peace afterwards, the coronation of King Géza and the coronation of King László. Selected and assembled by Kóka Rozália.
Bukovina, Bukovina – Looking back… – Part III: Excerpts from Kóka Rozália’s memoires. Rozália (born 1943, Bajmok, Serbia) tells about falling in love with the theatre as a child, about finally getting permission to visit her mother’s family in Bajmok, Serbia in 1956 (12 years after her parents had fled to Hungary), about the animosity her mother’s family felt towards her father (a “foreigner” from Bukovina), and about how her family experienced the time of Hungary’s 1956 Revolution.