Play for me, Gipsy, play me your song
Until your strings shatter in a thousand directions.
Extract from the operetta Countess Maritza by Kalman Imre.
Ever since their first migrations towards the West well before the year 1000, the Gipsies of ancient India have contributed to our cultural life in a multitude of ways.
Although dismissed as scapegoats of our sedentary world, subjected to the most uncivilised social rejection in literary and cinematic romanticism, they have followed their quest despite our technological and social upheavals and attempt in their own way to re-enchant the coldness of the world.
In fact, Gipsies constantly live a paradox: despite their refusal to integrate, they have become the often exclusive repositaries and a faithful mirror of the culture of a country where, once upon a time, to be a professional musician was synonymous with shame.
Known as romungro, the Romani of Hungary settled during the first migrations of the 15th century. It was these people who augmented the quality of the professional musicians of Budapest and the provincial towns by developing what became known as gipsy music. They became masters of the traditional Hungarian repertoire such as palotas, csardas and verbunkos, the most up-to-date musical styles that were also the classical sacred repertoire.
The Romungros, more integrated than other Romani communities, claim a true education and in the musical world, all studied in the most prestigious Hungarian conservatories after the fall of the aristocracy. Their great musical culture allowed them then to progress in their own way from the great classical repertoire (from Liszt to Bartók) to one that is still popular today, that of operettas. Thus they interpreted a wide range of music known as 'Gipsy' from Russia to Hungary and the Balkans.
Gyuszia Horváth, a superb violinist, is master of these repertoires. He comes from a prestigious line of professional musicians of the name Horváth, faithful protagonists of this great tradition.