Sunday, September 26, 2010

Join us on Facebook

Meanwhile the blog owner is very busy with moving back to her beloved homeland Hungary and with looking after her own upcoming concerts, on our Facebook page, there is much more life, links and other info being shared, you can network with like-minded people and our numbers are growing constantly, so you are very welcome to join us and be active in the subject!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Hungarian folk music and folk dance summer camps 2010

Summer is almost here, which means festival and camp time!! There will be LOADZ of camps in and around Hungary where you can dive into Hungarian folk music and dancing: learn to play an instrument, your favorite (or favorite to be) dances at the workshops, make friends and party all night long.

Photo: K. Fekete (Source)

Folkradio has collected the dates into a calendar for you. (Un)fortunately, it is such a long list that it would be hard to translate all of them, and more dates are added continuously, from other countries also, for we know of camps in the US or Canada for example.


I have a few suggestions if you would like to find out more about a specific camp. Leave a comment here to let us know which camp(s) are you interested in, so that you can get the info translated into English.

The ways to choose them:

1. Look through the dates and see if you find some camp you would like to have more info about
2. Look at the locations (2nd column) and see if you find a place you are already familiar with
3. If you already know something about Hungarian folk music or dancing, and you are interested in a particular type of music/dance, we can help you to find the camps where they teach it.
4. Post a question to the Hungarian Folk Music Facebook page and for sure there will be people happy to help you.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Event highlights for May

Fortunately, there are so many Hungarian folk music related events not only in the country but in other places in the world too, that it would be hard to post all of them here. A few selected ones, for your listening (and dancing) pleasure:

MAY 2, SUNDAY 19:00
Budapest, Hagyományok Háza (Heritage House)
If you can still make it tonight to Marianna Majorosi's concert Humming my tune, I think it will be a nice one. Event page

MAY 4, TUESDAY 20:00 (and May 6 Thursday at 20:00, May 15 at 19:00)
Budapest, Hagyományok Háza (Heritage House)
Eternal Kalotaszeg Spectacular music and dance show by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble 
Event page

Zurich (CH), Buchegg Community Centre
Zengő concert and táncház (folk dance workshop and party)
I have been there a few times years ago, nice little place and nice folks Event page (in German)  

Veszprém (HU), Castle Stage  
Muzsikás concert, as part of Gizella Days Festival where they have family programs, handcraft fair and a lot more, for 2 days

Budapest, Fonó
Budapest Folk Fest 2010 - now that's a rich program: concerts, dance houses. Featured concerts: Csík Band CD/DVD release concert on Tuesday 20:00, and Félix Lajkó & Huun Huur Tu (Tuva) concert 
Festival page with videos - you have to scroll down for the full program (it's in Hungarian, but don't worry if you don't know all those names, just go to any events and you won't be disappointed) Here you find Fonó

MAY 14, FRIDAY 17:00
Targu Mures (RO), Marosvásárhely, Maros Folk Dance and Music Association
5th Maros Folk Music and Dance Reunion, with a good couple of authentic musicians, singers and dancers from Transylvanian villages Event page

MAY 21, FRIDAY 20:00
Budapest, Fonó
Kálmán Balogh & the Gypsy Cimbalom Band - Kálmán Balogh is one performer you should not miss, whenever you have a chance to see him Here you find Fonó

MAY 28, FRIDAY, 19:00
Stockholm (SE), Hungarian House
Barozda táncház (on the photo) - yes, here in Stockholm we have a monthly dance house now, and it's getting better with each time! AND in the other room, they serve real Hungarian dinner, 60.-Kr incl. coffee&cake Here you find the Hungarian House

And many, many more, especially in Hungary, of course. The biggest event calendar you find on Folkrádió's website: go to, find FOLKNAPTÁR up in the menu, and there you have it. In the third column, you see the event types, which is very useful info - if you don't master Hungarian, a lecture won't be anything for you. A few words:
táncház = dance house, folk dance party where normally there is somebody to teach the dances
koncert = concert
fesztivál = festival
tanfolyam = course, here it refers to folk dance
folkkocsma = folk pub

Have fun!

ps: my apologies go to Kisjégvirág Folkdancers in Calgary (AB, Canada), for I have promised to put here their May 1 event, but I am sick and couldn't get out of bed for a little while, so I missed that one.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Violin or fiddle in Hungarian folk music

In the quick poll where the question was "What do you think of first when you hear about Hungarian folk music?", most people answered "Violins", so here you go. This is not a long, scientific essay about the history and usage of violin in Hungarian folk music, but will give you a glimpse of the main different ways of playing.

Violin or fiddle is indeed a primary instrument in Hungarian folk music, the one who plays it in a band is called prímás ('pree-maash') which means the person who is #1 in the band.

When is it a fiddle and when is it a violin? A simple general statement could be that it's basically the same instrument, but the term violin is used more for classical music, and fiddle is for traditional. For more on it, see this Wikipedia page.

Village musicians are not learned musicians, in the sense that they don't go to music school, don't get formal education. They learn by hearing, watching what the older ones are doing, fathers passing the knowledge on to their sons. They hear melodies from other villages or nowadays regions as well, and build them in their repertoire, adjusting them to their and the community's taste. The names of who created a music pieces is very seldom known. This is traditional or, with another word,  authentic folk music, by definition.

It is very common that playing music stays within Gypsy families as a profession. The good ones are known and go around in their regions to play at weddings and other occasions. Some especially brilliant ones were discovered by urban collectors and musicians, and their art can be enjoyed at festivals even in remote countries (as long as they are alive...) and on CDs, DVDs.    

Local musicians of Kalotaszeg region (Transylvania) play at a dance camp. As far as I know, it's only the youngest one who is still playing music in this world...

The next video shows how urban young people keep the spirit alive; they visit the villages to learn from the old musicians, listen to archived recordings for thousands of hours, and also learn from older masters of the Hungarian folk revival that started in the early 70's.

Now let's take the Gypsy orchestras; this is what many people identifies Hungarian folk music with. Three-four-five piece bands in Hungarian restaurants, or bigger orchestras; we even have a would famous one with 100 members... Their repertoire spans from traditional folk pieces through Liszt or Brahms dances and rhapsodies, with operettas or "nóta" in between (="art song" - if someone has a better translation, please correct me. This is popular music originated in the 19th century, played by Gypsy musicians, and with the composers known - which is a big difference from traditional folk music.)

Many of these Gypsies are highly trained musicians, they play with a brilliant technique which is unique to this part of the world, and fortunately, despite of often being super-technical when playing, they don't lose the spirit of it, they give their heart.

One has to mention "világzene" (="world music"), which is not strictly folk music; it's traditional pieces arranged in modern ways, or other kind of music arranged and played with traditional instruments. One great band is this:

I hope you can see why one can't live without this music...

Some violins for you, from each of the types above:


Thursday, April 22, 2010

A quick poll

Would you please answer this quick poll on the right side?  And if there is anything you want to add, say it in a comment.
Thanks in advance!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Resurrecting the Hungarian Folk Music blog

Hello everybody, thanks for passing by! I just recognized that this blog was getting so many visitors, so I should better provide you with some good content!

In the meantime while I figure out what will be the next post and update the blog with some stuff, enjoy this YouTube playlist, called simply Hungarian Folk Music (if someone can tell me please how to embed a video playlist, I would be very happy). All this music here is traditional music, performed either by "real" village musicians, either by revival bands whose life is pretty much about keeping these tunes alive.


You will love these albums:

Transylvanian Village Music (by Ökrös Ensemble)

Authentic Hungarian Village Music Traditional Hungary

Monday, June 12, 2006

Halmos Béla turned 60

  Széki ritka tempó

Béla Halmos (b. in Szombathely in 1946) graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the Budapest Technical University in 1970. He started to learn music in his childhood, playing the violin and the viola. He took part in the organization of the folk music education at music schools and. Since 1992 he has been a senior member at the Institute of Hungarian Culture, then laid the foundations of the Dance Hall Archives. In 2000 he was appointed the head of section. Since 2001 he has worked in the Folk Art Workshop of the House of Traditions as the head of the Dance Hall Archives. He is the board member of the Dance House Association, founder, later extraordinary member of the Hungarian Music Council. He participates in the work of the board of trustees awarding the Ferenc Liszt and Ferenc Erkel Prizes and of the "Association for the European Folklore Centre" running the European Folklore Institute.
Without him there wouldn't be táncház in the form we know it today (dance house movement, of which a bit later).

I love to dance when he plays the violin: you have the feeling that he is playing exclusively for you. Countless times in the táncház, a couple of times on stage with the legendary Bartók Dance Ensemble. When my son was a little baby, a few times I would take him where Halmos played for the kids, and he would forget about the whole world, didn't care that he could be playing and jumping around with the other children, he would just gaze at Béla bácsi, completely mesmerized, and listen, listen...

For photos of his birthday celebration in Budapest, go to the Galéria section of Folkrádió

Happy Birthday Béla!

Info and photo: Aranytí

You will love this Béla Halmos album:
Hungarian Folk Music from Transylvania