Like any other nation, Hungarians often feel that folk music is a link to the past that we should not only continue but preserve and enrich. Folk music is constantly changing, as it has always been in parallel with the social and cultural development of the country. Here is what Hungarian folk music is like today, in the 21st century. It is still an essential part of Hungarian identity.
Fiddler band Bohemian Betyars was formed in 2009. According to their website, the band’s purpose is “to spread the feeling of bitter revelry the farthest possible. Self-described as speed-folk freak-punk, their music has evolved into a new, exciting mixture – including rocking punk bouncing ska, swooping psychedelia, melodic themes all spiced up with Hungarian, Balkanic, and Gipsy elements.”
Their name is composed of bohemian, which refers to people practising an unconventional lifestyle, usually characterised by not caring about or ignoring social norms altogether. And the other word is betyár, which refers to the outlawed highwaymen in the 18-19th centuries. Until the 1830s, betyárs were mainly regarded as criminals, but an increasing public appetite for betyár songs, ballads, and stories gradually gave a romantic image to these armed and usually mounted robbers.
Bordó Sárkány [Bordeaux Dragon]
The Bordeaux Dragon has an authentic musical world which nourishes Hungarian folk traditions and fuses them with Sephardi Jewish, Celtic, and Catalan motives, thus creating special flows of melodies. Their uniqueness lies in the exclusive application of acoustic musical instruments. In their music, one can hear the deep-toned mandocello, the cobza, the tones of the violin, enjoy the sound of medieval bagpipes, and move to the rhythms of the tapan (a large double-headed drum played with mallets), all this old historical music essence spiced up with 21st-century modern vibes. The band has played in 13 different countries in the past years, and they are regular performers at thematic and world music festivals.
Bagossy Brothers Company
The Bagossy Brothers Company is a Transylvanian-Hungarian rock band that was founded in 2013 in Gyergyószentmiklós. The band plays music which is a mixture of indie rock, alternative rock, and folk-rock. The band’s name came from founding members and siblings Norbert Bagossy (guitar, vocals) and László Bagossy (bass, vocals). The brothers are accompanied by the other band members: Szilárd Bartis (drums), Attila Tatár (guitar, vocals), and Zsombor Kozma (violin, harmonica, keyboardist). In the beginning, the band performed only in Transylvania, and their songs were often played by local radio stations. Soon, people from beyond the borders started to notice the talented group of boys, and many Hungarian stations started to play their music. The band gained recognition in Hungary as well.
Kerekes Band was founded in 1995. However, they used to have a different name (ensemble). The founding members of the band are flute player Zsombor Fehér and his brother, the drummer Viktor Fehér. According to their website, they became a ’Band’ in 2003, when they decided to take a step back from pure folk music. They started exploring new ways, mixing authentic acoustic instruments with electronics. With their music, Kerekes Band was able to prove that popular musical genres go hand in hand with Hungarian folk music. They use instruments like the shepherd’s flute, the Csángó koboz (lute) and the viola from Mezőség, which create the perfect harmony and distinctive sound that the band has. Their source of inspiration is the “rich heritage” and the “limitless drive for the never-ending renewal of Hungarian outlaw music.”
Csík Zenekar is a Kossuth Prize-winner Hungarian band that was founded in 1988 in Kecskemét. They play both folk and popular music. The band has been one of the most charismatic figures in Hungarian folk music since 1988. Over the past three decades, they have been awarded several prestigious music awards, like The Phonogram Award (2007). The band was exploring the boundaries between indie and mainstream, folk and pop music. Thanks to their work, a whole new, younger audience was introduced to the genre of Hungarian folk music.
Source: www.bohemianbetyars.hu; www.kerekesband.hu; Wikipedia; Daily News Hungary, YouTube