Monday, April 02, 2007

Parno Graszt - "Járom az utam" {Hungary} [2004] (gypsy)

"A few months ago I saw a delightful documentary on BBC4 about a Hungarian Gypsy village band called, on the film, Parno Grass. The next time I saw my friend Ian Anderson, I asked him if he'd seen it; he said he had - and also had their CD. Then, a few weeks ago, that generous man sent me a spare copy he'd unearthed from what must be one of the largest collections of records in the country - so here it is, up for review.
But first I'd like to return to the film for a moment; I called it delightful - and it is, in so many ways. It begins, on May Day morning, 2002, with the band's leader, József Oláh, leaving his house on foot to meet up with the other members, preparatory to the day's musical activities. The 'other members of the band' being, in this instance, practically the whole of the village of Paszab - for this is a real village band, numbering from the core 7 members, up to 20 or so, depending on who's around. The local touring version is 17-strong, including ten dancers of three generations - from 10 to 71 years old! In the course of the morning we climb on board a wagon pulled by the parno graszt, the White Horse of the CD's title, and meet the band's great-grandmother - yes, all 17 share the same great-grandmother!

We learn about life in the village, how they earn a living, how the band has made them more prosperous and more self-assured, and about their recent trip to a festival in Holland where "They treated us like Princes!" - and we realise that this means that their hosts treated them just like any of the other guests ... not something they are used to. A visiting local politician is told of the "only slight" racialism of their Hungarian neighbours; "They still hate us, but they don't burn our houses."

We also discover that, back in the late-1950s, a far-sighted village elder decided that their music and dance culture was both valuable and important, and in danger of being swamped by new influences from outside - and set about encouraging the participation of the youth of the community. Today's vibrant village culture, and Parno Graszt, is the result of his labours. In the film we see young dancers huddled round a TV watching, with great enthusiasm, films from half a century ago of their now elderly relatives dancing and playing - with some of these same relatives in attendance to instruct them in the subtleties of their art.

But the most delightful, and surprising, thing of all is the music. We are used to the stereotypical images of the Hungarian Gypsies; the café violinist, the cymbalom orchestra ... but this is only how some of them earn a living in a country where little else is open to them. Here in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, the most underdeveloped, and" more here


nahavanda said...


Thalamus said...

Thank you very much for this gem of Gypsy/Hungarian folk music. I have never heard about it before - now I have learned something really important.

I have a recommendation as well, if you are interested: Roby Lakatos, who plays outstanding Gypsy music-based jazz. He belongs to the seventh generation of direct descendants of the celebrated Hungarian gypsy violinists Janos Bihari, who was also admired by Beethoven and Franz Liszt and he was that Brahms borrowed the themes of his famous Hungarian Dances. Roby Lakatos inherited the talent; he plays his violin with extreme virtuosity.

His recordings that I know about:

-"Live From Budapest"
-"As Time Goes By"
all by Deutsche Grammophon

I highly recommend them, if they cross your way.

There may be more, I do not know

Sincerely yours,


Anonymous said...

Something is wrong with the archives.
Error messages "The system cannot find the file specified" come out on both parts 1 & 2, and the mp3 files are not created. Could you check, please? Thanks for trying anyway.

Thalamus said...

I have tried again - maybe something wrong with the download, still, unfortunately, the same result: "The system cannot find the file spesified".

If you could do something...


nahavanda said...

Firstly Thank you a lot for the recomendation & information..glad to see friends when they are sharing infos/recomendations..

Thalmus i checked the link, it works well..please disable any downloading program like flashget etc and try again..or just tell an online friend, for example a friend from your msn messenger contact etc, to download it for you..however if it still not works; i promise to upload again.

kczmrk said...

It is really magical music! I do not know what to say more, recommendation to all of you and big thanks for Nahavanda!


Thalamus said...

Hi Nahavanda!

I have not visited for a while (I was in Europe), but now I tried again - and after this long time, with the same result, same error message, no mp3 files. I am really puzzled. Nothing was running in the background - neither now, nor on the first trials. Could you re-up this, please?

Sincerely yours,


P.S.: An other recommendation: Kalyi Jag - an excellent band playing Gypsy folk songs from Hungary. Their works known by me:
Lungoj O Drom Angla Mande (I have still a long way to go) (1989)
Black Fire (1990)
O Suno (The Dream) (1992)
Karingszo Me Phirav (Where I come and Go)
All albums are issued by Hungaroton. I taped them onto cassette from a friend's CD that time - no Internet to the public and no CD burners yet.

nahavanda said...

My friend, i will upload it and put the link to comments in a few days, pls wait a bit

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