“Culture cannot be inherited. Ancestral traditions evaporate rapidly unless each generation reacquires them for itself.”
— Zoltán Kodály
Since its inception in 1973, the Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble has taken the above quote as its mission statement; namely, to preserve the dying folk arts of ethnic Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin, by researching them, making them our own, and sharing them with our audiences. This work has continued for forty years.
40 Years in Zoltán Kodály’s Footsteps
7:00 p.m. November 16, 2013
Lakewood Civic Auditorium
14100 Franklin Blvd
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Tickets are available online (clevelandregos.ticketleap.com/regos40) or via phone: Kati Duna (216) 521-8352 Andy Mészáros (440) 247-5144
The Ensemble grew out of two separate but closely linked movements, Scouting and Hungarian ethnographic research.
Lord Baden-Powell may never have had any idea how far Scouting would spread when he conceived of an organization for young boys, starting with a trial for a group of twenty-some boys on England’s Brownsea Island in 1907. Scouting quickly spread to Hungary, too, where the first troops formed by 1910. Despite blossoming into a 60,000-strong youth movement, Hungary’s communist regime repressed and then banned Scouting activities in the years immediately following World War II, forcing many Scout leaders to flee their homeland and continue their activities in exile.
In the United States, Hungarian Scout troops first organized in 1951, in Cleveland. Since then, hundreds of Hungarian youth have taken the Scout Oath and become members of the worldwide Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris. Never forgetting our homeland’s culture, but instead yearning to preserve its thousand-year-old, rich history, we work ceaselessly to keep our culture alive and pass it on to future generations. Today, Cleveland boasts nearly 250 active registered Scouts in four troops, supported by the American Hungarian Friends of Scouting, a 501(c)(3) organization.
While ethnographic records go back several hundred years, research did not proceed in an organized fashion until the late 1800’s. It is primarily due to the tireless work of Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók that at present more than 300,000 folk songs have been preserved. Both Kodály and Bartók used folk songs as inspiration, sharing this priceless treasure with audiences throughout Hungary and the world.
The Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble
In 1973, inspired by the large numbers of Hungarian youth in Cleveland, Andrew and Magda Temesváry formed the Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble with the purpose of preserving and promoting our precious Hungarian heritage, and sharing this richness with audiences throughout Northeast Ohio, the U.S., and abroad. Since then, our members have learned and performed many folk songs and dances, made traditional crafts such as woodcarvings and pottery, sewn costumes, painted Easter eggs, and familiarized themselves with many other forms of folk art. Members of the Ensemble also interviewed members of the local Hungarian community about folk customs, which provided the necessary data for our book, Clevelandben még élnek magyarok? (Hungarians Still Live in Cleveland?), published in 2008.
Our forty-year history also followed ethnographic developments in Hungary. The stylized productions and choreographies of the Gyöngyösbokréta movement which flowered in Hungary between the World Wars have since given way to the táncház movement which exploded in the 1970’s, characterized by an emphasis on authenticity, and attempting to recreate the atmosphere of the folk traditions as found in the original villages and towns.
The Ensemble currently has 26 members, who deepen their cultural understanding during the weekly practice, in the hopes of passing this knowledge on to both the Scouts in their care and our larger community.
Highlights of the past few years include a three-week tour of Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia in 2011, as well as participation in July’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival. In addition, we perform folk songs and dances at events organized by the local Hungarian community, and take part in two weekend workshops: one each fall organized by the Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris, and one each spring in the Cleveland area.
“40 Years in Zoltán Kodály’s Footsteps”
In celebration of our fortieth anniversary we will present a gala performance, “40 Years in Zoltán Kodály’s Footsteps,” on November 16, 2013, in the Lakewood Civic Auditorium. The classical compositions of Kodály and his disciples are heavily influenced by folk music; in addition, many of their scholarly works were ethnographic in nature. Their work provided the impetus for the flowering of ethnographic research in Hungary and thereby the preservation of these priceless treasures for later generations. They traveled throughout the Carpathian Basin, collecting folk songs and music from villages and hamlets, which they then used either in their entirety or as inspiration in their compositions. Following their example, the Ensemble’s gala performance features not only the usual folk dance and music we usually share with our audiences, but also several choral and orchestral works composed either by Kodály or by one of his disciples. Through these additional works, we hope our audience and supporters gain a wider understanding of Hungarian culture as a whole—not only the beauty of Hungarian folk culture, but the compositions of those whose work made the preservation of this folk culture possible. This program would not be possible without musicians from the well-known and ever-popular Gyanta (Toronto, Montreal) and Harmonia (Cleveland) bands, under the direction of Kálmán “Öcsi” Magyar, Jr., of Toronto; János Szabó, folk dance instructor from Salgótarján, Hungary; Dr. Anikó Fehér, choir director, music teacher and ethnomusicologist from Budapest; and the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra.
Magyar Kálmán, Jr.: www.kalmanmagyar.com
Gyanta népzene együttes: www.gyanta.com
Harmonia Band: www.harmoniaband.com
Fehér Anikó: www.feheraniko.hu
Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra: chagrinfallsstudioorchestra.org