Szalai Hungarian Gypsy Band Szalai Hungarian Gypsy Band Resume

      Antal Szalai is considered the best gypsy violin soloist in the world and the recipient of the coveted Ferenc Liszt Award in 2005.

He and his gypsy band have performed extensively worldwide at all major concert halls and arts festivals.

Szalai comes from a family of gypsy musicians. He studied the violin at the Bela Bartok Conservatory of Music in Hungary and then in 1967, joined the Honved Ensemble, a musical organisation which comprises a symphony orchestra, a folk dance troupe, a choir and a gypsy orchestra.

This ensemble was supported by the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian National Army. He became leader of the Hungarian Gypsy Orchestra in 1969.

Antal Szalai explains the origins of the gypsy band: "Gypsy songs began with primitive rhythms. About 300 years ago, the tradition of the gypsy band started and the band then comprised a violin, a viola, a cello and a cimbalom."

The traditional cimbalom is a large stringed instrument in the zither category with trapezoidal soundboard.
The strings are divided into 35 groups that makes it possible to achieve a range of four octaves.
This instrument allows highly skilled playing with articulated notes with rapid staccatos.

The band's repertoire not only consists of Hungarian czardas music but instead includes classical pieces like Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, Brahms' Hungarian Dances, pieces from members of the Strauss family and traditional Hungarian rural folk music.

Their earthy, native energy is destined to thrill audiences. Gypsies are noted for their sensitivity to music.

The gypsy way of making music is best explained by Szalai: "The gypsies are very temperamental people ... and gypsy music comes from the heart.

"There is a lot of feeling and it is romantic. Also, they play with a different sort of rhythm that is more interesting."

"Szalai is everything a gypsy violinist is supposed to be, playing with swooning ardour and gorgeous tone"
The Sydney Morning Herard

Updated:  June 30, 2011

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