We had the privilege of attending two fantastic concerts in Budapest, Hungary. The first group was an eclectic Hungarian folk band comprised of a guitarist who is half Indian/Hungarian, a singer from a small Hungarian village and another guitarist who is Roma (aka “Gypsies). They have combined many different styles of music such as flamenco and other European genres, mixing in their own traditional Hungarian folk sound as well. It was really enjoyable to watch because one could tell that the 3 musicians were truly passionate about their music and were having fun playing. Overall, it was a truly genuine performance and a great introduction to Hungarian culture on the first night of our arrival.
After the show, we spoke to them briefly and the one idea that really stuck out to me was the use of music as a method of unification. When discussing politics, all 3 musicians remarked that they were ambivalent to the political issues and truly felt bonded to their country and fellow citizens through their regional music. Beyond the contemporary crises in Europe and Hungary, (which are plenty; take a look at the newly proposed Hungarian constitution) within in the music world at least, the traditional music helps maintain positive societal interconnections. Additionally, this is demonstrated by the Roma guitar player in the group, who is treated like any other musician, despite the heavy discrimination against his nationality within Europe, particularly in Hungary.
The following evening, we attended a classical music concert where a pianist, violinist and cellist performed Beethoven’s sonata in G major and trio in B. Impressively, the musicians were doing 5 concerts in a single day, with a 2 hour break in between each performance with every show lasting an hour and a half. The sound inside the large concert hall was fantastic; the space was specifically designed for optimum sound clarity and every single musical accent was clearly audible. The interplay between the 3 instruments was vibrant and energetic and we all found ourselves mesmerized in the music. When the performance was interrupted by the ringing of someone’s cell phone, the pianist proceeded to play along with the ringtone before returning to Beethoven. Overall, getting to attend both concerts was a really nice experience in the city.