Ferenc is an accomplished professional musician, recognized in Europe and the United States as one of Hungary’s leading musicians of traditional music. His hunger to understand his musical heritage drove him to study, search, and discover everything he could about the music he was playing and the people who played it before him.
That drive has not diminished in any way and since
1998 he has made a personal effort to document the bagpipe traditions of the
Hungarian Csángó people of Moldavia in Eastern Romania.
Despite many hardships, not the least of which was financial, Ferenc has
collected enough material that he has been able to begin making the information
available to others. In 2001 his
initial findings were published in Hungary, earning his place among the scholars
of traditional Hungarian music. He
has also presented a well-received photo exhibit and short video documentary of
the first bagpipers he had met and collected.
Ferenc has recorded with the finest professional musicians of Hungary, including Márta Sebestyén (achieved her greatest fame on the movie soundtrack of ‘The English Patient’) and Muzsikás. As a performer he toured regularly with Vasmalom for over five years, and was an integral part of the production of their first album. Ferenc is himself a recognized and respected solo musician and arranger.
His work started in the 1970’s as Ferenc embraced the “Dance House Movement”, a national phenomenon in Hungary in which primarily young people delved deeply into the discovery of their traditions and roots. He learned the science of collecting by attending many lectures and workshops given by well-known ethnomusicologists so that even his early efforts demonstrated his ability to produce well-documented recordings. As a bagpiper, his efforts naturally were mostly in researching traditional Hungarian bagpipers.
Although the politics of Eastern Europe presented certain obstacles, Ferenc continued to look for traditional bagpipers throughout the 1980’s and his special interest in the Csángó Hungarian bagpipe music of Moldavia began to emerge. In 1998, years after Ferenc’s immigration to the United States with his family, circumstances led to the realization that he knew very little about the Csángó Hungarian dance and music of Moldavia; certainly not enough to satisfy the growing interest of the folkdance community of Northern California. His trip to Moldavia that year, begun as a collecting trip for material to teach at dance workshops, led to the discovery of the last vestiges of what clearly had once been a vibrant culture of bagpipe music – and about which very little was known. His trip quickly evolved into an intensive search for musicians, musical instruments, and information and became a full-scale documentation project to salvage and preserve what he could of the bagpipe music of the Csángó Hungarians of Moldavia.
Ferenc found four bagpipers, plus one more the following year.
Since then, although he has found a few more pipers, four of the first
five pipers have already passed away.
As the remaining artists age, the sense of urgency becomes only greater,
as their art form is not being readily taken up by the next generation.
Ferenc has not completed his search for bagpipers and other musicians in
Moldavia, and inquiries have shown the likelihood of a few more musicians.
He feels a sense of urgency to move forward with this documentation
project before the music is lost forever.
Ferenc has limited his
current work somewhat to the bagpipe tradition. However, he did not ignore singers, dancers, or the other
instruments and his recordings include traditional musicians of the furulya
(flute), koboz (lute), violin, and dob (drum), as well.
In addition, he has collected from Romanian musicians and,
extraordinarily, has located a source for remnants of Jewish music in Moldavia.
One other thing that sets Ferenc apart is his understanding of the importance of tradition and his need to pass on what he can to others, particularly to his children. He is teaching them all, not just the music, but also the knowledge that what they are doing is special and important. They are all proud of their dual cultural heritage and to be participants in any production he organizes.
· Culture bearer, Artist: has been learning/playing traditional Hungarian music since his childhood, on Hungarian bagpipe (Duda) and flute (Furulya) since his early 20’s; also recognized and decorated maker of Hungarian bagpipes and flutes.
· Researcher: has been seeking and documenting Hungarian bagpipe and flute music (also other traditional arts) for almost 30 years
o 1980’s attended lectures and workshops on how to conduct scientific research, by Imre Olsvai (ethnomusicologist) and Bertalan Andrásfalvi, (well-known ethnographer and first Minister of Culture of the new democratic government in the early 1990's);
o Involvement in the Dance House Movement, since the mid-1970’s, sought and recorded traditional artists in Hungary, also Hungarian artists in Romania.
o Since 1998, travels to the Hungarian Csángó community in Moldavia to research and document (audio and visual recordings) the few remaining bagpipers; focuses on repertoire, style, instruments, background information, regional language differences. Records instrumental music (with and without dancers), songs, and interviews with the musicians and family members.