The Politics of Hungary’s Folk Music: Beyond Nationalism and Xenophobia

Photo by Daniel Spitzberg
You hear them in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin: Punk bands, "world musicians" and cabarets filch Roma, or Gypsy, Jewish and Balkan melodies, and casually weave them into other musical traditions. In these metropolises, Eastern European folk music roosts on the margins, threading together broader Balkan, Jewish and Roma themes to survive. Yet on the edge of this musical map beats Budapest, a folk boomtown with thriving Magyar, Roma and the seedlings of the neo-klezmer scene. In a town where established folk communities are the norm, do they ever cross-pollinate?