English Table of Contents 2009/3
Balapan, les ailes de l’Altai’ – a documentary film directed by Hamid Sardar.
This film is about a Kazah village in the Deloun Valley of Western Mongolia, where respect for the wolf and the eagle are part of tradition. As a boy comes of age, he and his father hunt for an eagle’s nest, take a young eagle to raise as hunting partner for the boy, who after several years then sets the bird free. Review by Henics Tamás
Two reviews of the Hungarian State Folk Dance Ensemble’s new show entitled ’Édeskeserű’ [Bitter-Sweet], choreographed by Farkas Zoltán „Batyu”, Mihályi Gábor and Orza Câlin. The show premiered this spring in Budapest. On one hand, Dreisziger Kálmán (of Montreal/Dubai) definitely didn’t like it, saying he had hoped to see something „good” reflecting the Ensemble’s illustrious past and presenting the simple, though highly developed world of peasant tradition with dignity; rather than a„contemporary interpretation of folklore” and „bold application of theatrical devices”. On the other hand, the Budapest critic, ’sisso’, [Magyar Narancs: year XXI. issue 23] whole-heartedly recommends this [program of] folk dance which is not national anthropology preserved in a glass case [in a museum, for example].
In the early spring of this year, new grave markers for five outstanding, highly respected traditional musicians (Halmágyi Mihály and Gizella, Zerkula János, Fikó Regina, Pulika János) of Gyimes [region of Transylvania] were dedicated in a ceremony at the cemetery in the village of Gyimesközéplok (Lunca de Jos, Romania). Their students played at the ceremony. The funds for realizing this project were raised at an event held in Budapest in October 2008, organized by the Hungarian Heritage House, the Fonó and the National Circle of Friends of Folk Dance. Report and photos by Hont Angéla
Children’s column. Two very short stories about Lake Balaton and one account of an unforgettable day in Transylvania.
On Szék’s Legendary Pálinka. Pálinka is the special Hungarian name for the fruit brandy made in this part of Eastern Europe. The strong pálinka made in the village of Szék [Sic] in the Mezőség region of Transylvania is famous in dance house circles. It is made from local plums picked in each family’s garden, the plums are then carefully stored and fermented until it’s time to cook [distill] the pálinka in the winter in special local stills in special buildings in the village. In Szék, pálinka is used like anyone else uses a good shot of schnapps, but it is also much more. It is an important part of the local economy, since it is used as payment (better than money) in many kinds of situations. It is also used as medicine, as presents, is offered to anyone who comes to visit, is hidden and sneaked in moments of need, fought over, lied about and overconsumed. It is a main character: at all weddings and celebrations and of many a tale. By Széki Soós János
Book review: Török Imre „Szanyi kincsestár” (in Hungarian). Szany is a village in Northwestern Hungary’s ’Rábaköz’ region, with a population of approx. 2500. This village has a lively folk culture and a long standing local tradition-preserving dance group that is known nationwide. The book tells about the history of local folk customs, traditions, songs and dances. Full bibliographic information is apparently not included in the volume. The book is only referred to, by its title, author and the fact that it is ’a product of the 20th century’. By Varga Lajos
Conversation with musician and composer, Kiss Ferenc upon completion of one of his newest projects: a piece he arranged and composed in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Jean Calvin’s birth – a work commissioned by and performed during the 2009 Budapest Spring Festival. Almost all of Kiss Feri’s work is either inspired, based on or draws from traditional music. Kiss talks about another recent project of arranging the music for the Honvéd Dance Theatre’s new choreography which will also be made into a film. Kiss also talks about his roots in Debrecen and relatives in Transcarpathia. Finally ending with a few comments on the status of Etnofon, the record label he established in the beginning of the 1990s, saying that the practices of illegal downloading and copying music have also affected the traditional music market. Nevertheless, Etnofon perseveres with its aim of popularizing original folk music from the Carpathian Basin and contemporary music that draws on it. Expanded version of an interview by K. Tóth László, first printed in ‘Magyar Nemzet Magazin’ 2009 Jan 3.
Kiss Ferenc: Magyar Kancionale – Hungarian Cantionale. This new recording celebrates the 500th anniversary of Jean Calvin’s birth and draws on the religious music, hymns and psalms from the Hungarian Calvinist Church. Review by Sándor Ildikó
Lajtha László – the folk music researcher: Part 3. Excerpts from the photo and document exhibition in the upper foyer of the Hungarian Heritage House in Budapest, curated by Pávai István. Lajtha (b.1892 - d.1963) was a composer and folk music researcher who began folk music collection work after 1910 working with Bartók and Kodály. These excerpts are about collection methods and problems of transcribing music collected in the field. „...I did the first draft of the transcription. Then we would sit down and go over the work together...It was easier with two people checking and double checking. When a person does it alone, one day you hear it one way, then the next day you hear it another way.....sometimes we would argue heatedly about it too...about how it really sounds... ”(from Sebő Ferenc’ 1985 interview with Rajeczky Benjamin about working with Lajtha)
Literary column: MAGtár. Poetry, beautiful in its simplicity, by Beretvás Blanka, born in Budapest in 1991. Blanka is a student at the Budapest Austrian Gymnasium, where her work is often published in ’Operencia’, the school newspaper.
2009 National Dance House Festival (April, 3, 4, 5, 2009 – Budapest). Todd Wagner’s report on the festival was also recently published in „Let’s Dance! - The Magazine of International Folk Dancing”. Todd lives in California and has been coming to Hungary a couple times a year for the last 20 years or so. His article is printed in English, along with a Hungarian translation of the same article, with 3 pages of photos by Kárpáti Zsuzsanna.
In the Wake of History. Part 1 of ethnographer, dance researcher Borbély Jolán’s life story - as told to Kóka Rozália. Borbély Jolán and her twin sister Róza were born in 1928 in the town of Hajdúszoboszló in northereastern Hungary. Jolán tells the story of her childhood living with her grandparents and the World War II years, when the family fled to Austria. They lived in war prisoner camps until the end of the war and then finally went home on the first train back to Hungary. Amazingly the twins twere able to take their high school exams in the makeshift post-war circumstances. In 1947 Jolán went to Budapest to apply for entrance to the University, and Róza married her medical student suitor.
Füzér’s Mounted Escort. Füzér is a village in the mountainous Zemplén region of Northeastern Hungary right next to the Slovak border. When the bishop comes to the village at Pentecost or for confirmations and the like during the late spring or summer monthes, according to the local custom, a mounted escort greets the bishop and accompanies him to the parsonage, and then to the church. Over the years anywhere from 16 pairs of horses to 5 horses have taken part. According to some accounts, there should be 7 mwn on horses representing the leaders of the seven tribes of Hungarians that first arrived to the Carpathian Basin in 896. The horsemen dress in regional holiday costume. One of them the leads the other horses in pairs behind. This is still practiced in the village. Some of the participants have been doing this for 35-40 years. By Darmos István – who has been documenting traditions of this village since the 1990’s.
30th Annual Kaláka Festival. The Kaláka Festival was held this year for the 30th time in the castle ruins at Diósgyőr just outside the city of Miskolc in Hungary. Usually an international festival, this year the organizers concentrated on bands only from Hungary, showcasing an amazing array of talented folk musicians from this small music-loving country. The 3 day festival is always held in the second weekend of July. A line-up of some 20 groups were mentioned in this article by K. Tóth László.
Savanyú Józsi – the last Bakony outlaw. Part 4 of this chronicle on the life of one of Hungary’s legendary outlaws, tells about his capture, sentencing and death. Savanyú ’worked’ in western Hungary in the so-called Bakony region. His last robbery was in [Balaton]akali in February of 1884. He was finally captured in May of the same year. His trial was held in Szombathely in May of 1886 and he was sentenced to life prisonment with eight days in a dark cell for his disrespectful behavior in court. In probably 1906 at the age of 64, he was released and went to live with his brother near the village of Tótvászony. In 1907 his health declined as a result of frostbite gotten during his outlaw days, and there was talk of having to amputate his foot. Then on April 9th he tied himself to a chair and shot himself in the head. Local talk had it that his suicide was partly because Savanyú found it so unbearable having to report in weekly to the police. By Vas János „Panyiga”
National Solo Dance Festival 2009 – Békéscsaba, Hungary Part II. Conversation with jury member Kökény Richárd (dance corps director: Hungarian State Folk Dance Ensemble). His overall comments on the competitors and dancing: there was a high level of technique in all the competitors, but something was lacking in performance. He rated the dancers on 3 basic points. 1: Musicality (how much is the dance is in synchronicity with the music, how does the movement fit the music, how much is the movement and music in harmony), 2: Relationship in the couple (the stability of the man and the woman both separately and working together – which of course also relates to the music). 3: Performance style (was a feeling for the dance stronger or was the performer trying to show himself off using the dance as a tool). By dr. Nagy Zoltán
Dancing in Decs – a village in Tolna County (Dunántul region). A well-known traditional dancer from Decs, Mrs Farkas László - Pál Erzsebet (Bözsi néni), talks about dancing. Amazing comments from the inside - about the dances, their figures, steps, posture. Dances here include verbunk and csárdás. Some names of figures: mártogatós , lippenős, forgás. As told to Busai Norbert. Transcribed by Busai Zsuszsanna.
On the legényes [Transylvanian men’s dance] competition held in Budapest, April 25, 2009. This year’s was the 12th International Legényes Competition organized by the Budapest Cultural Center in Budapest’s 12th District. Winner of the competition was Kádár Ignác. The compulsory material to be learned by the competitors, then performed at the dance competition, were men’s dances from the village of Ördöngösfüzes (Fizeşu Gherlii) in the Mezőség region of Transylvania – specifically the dance of two men from the village: Hajdú Ferenc (born 1921) and Réti János (born 1929), both of whom were present at the competition. Here both men comment on the dances themselves, the time when Martin György and Kallós Zoltán went to the village to film the dancers, and what it was like at the time when they learned the dances. As told to Busai Norbert
A philosophical discussion on time spent on education (Part 1)
The headings in the article are as follows:
I. Definition of the passing of time
II. Time as a historical phenomenon
III. Time as definition of future events
IV. Time, and questions of when events occur
By Lévai Péter - professional folk dancer, choreographer and senior lecturer at the Hungarian Academy of Dance. Article includes bibliography.