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Final Hour

 

Back in 1907, Béla Bartók on an expedition collecting folk music in Transylvania wrote about the difficulties of the task at hand in a letter: “Despite every concerted effort, a researcher looking for old Hungarian folk songs, instead finds mostly popular melodies and composed city tunes. We seem to be living the final hour – or even final minutes – of the music culture truly connected to the traditional folk life.”

 


Today researchers still refer to the “final hour” of traditional folk culture, yet collection work continues. After the collapse of eastern-bloc communism in 1990, folk culture in our region experienced a rapid transition. Thus in the mid-1990s, believing that we were truly in the “final hour” – we wanted to take the last chance to document the traditional music still left in the Hungarian language region. László Kelemen’s plan became reality in 1997: the first bands arrived in Budapest for the recording sessions.


First we invited 46 bands from rural Transylvania, the members of which were our “informants” – though they were not “professional musicians” in the classical sense, as they were not musicians who made their living solely from playing music. One or two singers and a dancing couple arrived with each village band. In the five-year period between 1997–2001, 112 traditional bands participated in our “Final Hour” project. We documented 1250 hours of material; roughly 23,000 melodies. In the course of collection we endeavoured to record music well-known for the performers, whichever ethnic group they belonged to. Thus the collection includes Hungarian, Romanian, Gypsy, Saxon, Jewish, Slovakian, Gorol, Rusyn, Serbian and Croatian melodies, thus giving a nearly comprehensive picture of folk music in the entire Carpathian Basin.


Although the recording part of the programme is complete, the work is still in progress. 10–15 CDs of material per band are available for scientific studies. In addition, our goal is: to provide a wider audience interested in traditional folk music with compilations of the best music from the collection – while also providing the Hungarian dance house movement with exciting new material. Eighteen CDs have already been released by Budapest’s Fono Music Hall. We call it the Új Pátria (“New Patria”) series. The series was named after the collection work led by Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály in the 1930s and the resultant Pátria series of gramophone records.


In 2010 we are pleased to release 50 more Új Pátria CDs – material from the Final Hour project – supported by European Economic Area (EEA) financing and Norway Grants programs. This CD is part of the series.


Official page

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Fonó Music Hall H-1116 Budapest, Sztregova u. 3. Phone: (+36 - 1) 206-5300 Telefax: (+36 - 1) 206-5300 (Monday-Friday: 09.00-16.00) E-mail: webaruhaz@fono.hu Web: www.fono.hu

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