Béla Halmos, one of the founding fathers of the Hungarian folk music revival movement, passed away at his home in Budapest yesterday. He was 68. Béla was one of my great friends and a role model as I was growing up. He was, in fact, one of the main reasons I live in Hungary today.In 1972 I was staying at my Uncle's house in Veszprém when I saw a TV documentary following two long haired but serious young Hungarians as they went from village to village in Hungary sticking microphones into old people's faces, collecting folk music, and then attempting to reproduce it themselves. I was fascinated, and so my uncle began taking me to friends of his who played the fiddle or the Hungarian zither. Eventually my uncle bought me a cheap Czech fiddle (which is hanging on the wall behind me as I type) and started me on my lifelong path to making screaming East European fiddle music. That TV show was a window on the very beginning of the Dance House movement.
|At the original dance house, Kossuth Klub, Zuglo, 1972|
|Fiddling in the bar at the Fono Club|
|Playing with Icsan in Szek, around 1973|
He played a dance in Budapest like he belonged in a village in the Mezőség. He was a good teacher, a good man. We will miss him, but we will feel his influence for many, many years to come whenever a fiddle comes out of a case, and a Hungarian tune comes out of a fiddle. Nyugodj békében Béla!