The winners of the WOMEX Award 2008 for World Music, after 40 years of their unrivaled career, MUZSIKÁS is the most renowned and popular Hungarian folk music ensemble worldwide and in their home country as well. MUZSIKÁS pioneered the global popularity of Hungarian folk music that is now a well-established niche in the roots and world music scenes. Due to their unique musical skills, instrumental knowledge and musical versatility, they can cope with playing on different music scenes, collaborating with various noted musicians and groups, from folk and world-music to classical, klezmer and jazz, and even to alternative rock music. They have already presented their exceptional live performances at the greatest festivals and in the most significant concert halls, such as the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Théatre de la Ville in Paris and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Among the various prizes, they were awarded the most respected Hungarian State award for artists, the Kossuth Prize, the Prima Primissima Award and in 2008 they received the prestigious WOMEX Award for World Music as well.
Unusual Folk Instruments of Muzsikás
The traditional orchestras of Mezőség (central Transylvania) consist of three instruments, the violin, the three-stringed viola, and the cello. The three strings of the viola are tuned to a, d and g. The bridge is straight, and thus all three strings sound simultaneously with one stroke of the bow.
The gardon is an ancient stringed percussion instrument of the Székelys of Csík and Csángós of Gyimes. Gouged like a trough from one piece of beech, maple or willow, its shape resembles a cello. The three strings tuned to one tone are hammered with a stick, while a thinner string is plucked simultaneously so that it recoils on the fingerboard with a sound like that of a drum. In old Hungarian dance music the double-bottomed drum was frequently used to accompany dancing, and it is still used in this way among the peoples of the Balkans.
The koboz is an ancient lute-like instrument that is still played today by the Hungarian Csángós and the Rumanians, natives of Moldavia. It is of ten associated with the singing of epic songs. The Hungarians of Moldavia play melodies on it, but the Rumanians typicaIly use the koboz for a running semiquaver accompaniment. It is rarely played today, having been replaced by the cimbalom, accordion, or synthesizer.
This flute is approximately one metre in length, and is made of wood. The instrument is played with two techniques, just blowing the instrument, or blowing and 'singing' simultaneously - a common practice in the Hungarian folk tradition.
This is a wooden instrument which is very similar to the flute, but the flute has six finger holes and the kaval has only five. The kaval originates from the Hungarians living in Moldavia, but it is possible that the Hungarians took it over from the Rumanians.
This is a large drum which is beaten with two sticks, one heavy, the other lighter, giving two different effects. There is also a small cymbal attached to the top of the drum. In the Maramures (Máramaros) region, the Rumanians used to play the drum thus: one hand would beat the drum using a heavy stick, while in the other hand a metal object would be used to hit the cymbal.
This instrument is a small, cca. 30 cm long plunking (or twanging?) instrument playing the melody together with the violin in South-Hungarian village. Today it is very rare among the Hungarians but widely used among the Serbian or Croatian minorities of Hungary.
Some important concerts
This is not the full list, rather a personal selection from the past decade
London, Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms
2008. Sevilla, WOMEX Award ceremony
2008 USA, Washington, Congress Library, Takács Quartet
2008. USA, Los Angeles, UCLA, Takács Quartet
2009. Malaysia, Borneo Island, Rainforest folk Music Festival
2009. Amstedam Concertgebouw Great Hall, Maria Petrás
2010. Belfort, Eurockeennes Festival, Woven Hand
2010. Dour, Dour Festival, Woven Hand
2010. Carhaix, Festival Les Vieilles Charrues, Woven Hand
2011. London Royal Festival Hall, Inside the world of Bartók, Philharmonia Orchestra
2012. Dijon Opera, Takács Quartet
2012. New York, Carnegie Hall, The Roots and Routes of Bartók, András Schiff
2013. Ludwigsburg, Schlossfestspiele, Concert Ungarecs, Bartók, Ligeti, Haydn, cond.: André de Ridder
2013. Budapest Sziget Festival, Zero Day "Muzsikás 40" Woven Hand, Amadinda, Balanescu, Jandó, Corvinus Dance Group., etc.
2013. Jeonju Music Festival, Korea
2014. Tokio, International Forum Great Hall (5000 seats) La Folle Journée Festival
2015. Ankara, Opera, International Bartók Fesstival, Opera Orchestra, cond.: Florian Frannek (D)
2015. Madrid, Auditorium Fundacion Juan March, "Allegro Barbaro", Jenő Jandó
2015. Budapest Spring Festival, Palace of Arts, Amadinda Percussion Group
2015. New York, Skirball Center, Kulturfest Nyc, Glasshouse-Muzsikás
2015. Toronto, Centre for the Arts, George Weston Recital Hall, The lost Jewish music, Ágnes Herczku
2016. Toronto, Harbourfront Centre, Ashkenaz fesztival, "Maramaros" , The Lost Jewish Music, Hanga Kacsó
2016. München, Residenz, "Bartók für Europe", Maria Petrás
2016. London, Cadogan Hall, "Allegro Barbaro" Balázs Fülei
2016. London, Wimbledon Music Festival. Trinity Church, Skampa Quartet (CZ)
2017. ELMA Center Israel, Balázs Fülei
2017. Genf, Victoria Hall, , L'Orchestre de Cambre De Genéva, cond.: Arie van Beek
2017. Brasov (R), Enescu Festival, Orchestre Simfonica a Filharmonicii Brasov, cond.: Cristian Orosanu