A milestone in Ethnomusicology – Professor István Pávai’s Fundamental Book on Transylvanian Hungarian Folk Music Finally Available in English
an article provided by Friends of Hungary’s I Dance Hungary
Due to its complex geography, long-time multi-ethnic society, and peculiar historical development, Transylvania has a unique and exceptionally diverse palette of folk music. Folk dance music, a distinct and remarkable slice of this mesmerizing musical stock, plays an important role in the everyday culture of Hungary, as well as its neighbors, as the very fundament of folklore revival movements. Thanks to the thriving popularity of the revival, increasing masses come into contact with this musical tradition on a daily basis, as newcomers, or regular participants of táncház (dance house) sessions.
Prof. István Pávai
Yet, the internal mechanisms, the intercultural relations, and cultural-historical background of the phenomena in Transylvanian folk dance music remained obscured for the enthusiastic fans of táncház, especially for the non-Hungarian speakers. With his newly released volume, ethnomusicologist Prof. István Pávai provides relief to all of those who are eager to find answers and accurate explanations behind the miracles of Transylvanian dance tunes.
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Being a native of the region, Prof. Pávai graduated at the Gheorghe Dima Music Academy, Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), where he was mentored by outstanding Hungarian and Romanian ethnomusicologists like Ilona Szenik, János Jagamas, and Traian Mîrza. Later he further deepened his theoretical knowledge by working together with such great representatives of Hungarian folk music and folk dance research, as György Martin and Lajos Vargyas. Moreover, his observations and findings are verified by nearly five decades on field, with the research of cca 350 settlements of Transylvania and Moldavia, comprising all the major ethnographic regions of these provinces, attentive to Hungarian, Romanian, German, Jewish, and Romani culture, as well as the interethnic bonds between these musical traditions.
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The volume, released in Hungarian in 2012, offers a perfect guidebook to everyone with a thirst for background information on Transylvanian Hungarian dance music. Unlike several previous authors on the topic, he cuts himself adrift from political ideologies in order to focus on interethnic aspects and emphasize shared characteristics within the folk dance music of Transylvanian nations.
The book gives accurate explanations and enlightening cultural-historical details of the research of the topic, the dance accompanying instruments, accompaniment types, as well as a diachronic perspective on the role of social status and ethnicity.
A must-read for everyone seeking answers in the labyrinth of Transylvanian folk dance and music.
Soma Salamon, lecturer of the Folk Music Department at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, member of the volume’s proofreading team