Early Hungarian Songs
from the 16th to the 19th centuries
Benkő Dániel, Czidra László, Pitti Katalin, Harsányi Zsolt


Glória-Céh GCCD 66003

Céh Stúdió, Budapest

Régi magyar dalok a 16-19. századból

1 - Virágénekek / Flower songs
a) Zöld erdőben, sík mezőben / In green forests, open fields   [2:40]
b) Ej, haj, gyöngyvirág / Hey, hey, lily of the valley   [2:05]
c) Hej, páva / Hey, peacock   [0:40]
d) A szerelem szárnyon jár / Love goes on wings   [1:42]
e) Zöld erdő harmatát / The dew of the green forest   [2:00]

2 - Dalok BALASSI Bálint verseire / Songs set to poems by Bálint Balassi
a) Már csak éjjel hagyna / If only at night   [1:46]
b) Ki nem hinné / Who would not think   [2:01]

3 - Dalok Csokonai Vitéz Mihály verseire / Songs set to poems by Mihály Csokonai Vitéz
a) A reményhez / To hope   [4:35]
b) Tartózkodó kérlelem / A reticent request   [1:48]

4 - Verbunkos gitárzene / Recruiting guitar music
a) Johann Kaspar MERTZ: Andante maestoso, a Hazai virágok című műből / from Flowers of my Native Country   [2:14]
b) Johann PADOWETZ: Magyar (Hungarian)   [1:32]

5 - Dalok a Vietórisz-kódexből / Songs from the Vietórisz codex
a) Búm elfelejtésére / To forget my sorrow   [2:39]
b) Hová készülsz, szívem / Whereto, my heart   [3:01]
c) Égő lángban forrong szívem / A burning flame consumes my heart   [2:33]
d) Sokan szólnak most énreám / I'm much rebuked now   [1:51]
e) Óh, kedves fülemülécske / Oh, dearest nightingale   [2:43]
f) Térj meg már bujdosásidból / Come back to me from exile   [3:24]

6 - Táncok a Linus-féle kéziratból / Dances from the Linus manuscript
a) Saltus Hungaricus (3)   [1:19]
b) Saltus Hungaricus (2)   [1:28]
c) Cicza Tancz / Cica tánc / Kitty Cat dance   [2:00]

7 - Diákdalok Sárospatakról / Student songs from Sárospatak
a) El kell menni, nincs mit tenni – Aranyideim folyása / I must leave, it must be so – The passage of my happy times   [2:56]
b) Hasztalan, kedvesem / It is no use, dear   [2:00]

8 - Tánc a Vietórisz-kódexből / Dance from the Vietórisz codex
Corant   [2:02]

9 - Dalok PÁLÓCZI HORVÁTH Ádám gyűjteményéből (Ötödfélszáz énekek) /
Songs from Ádám Pálóczi Horváth’s collection (Four Hundred and Fifty Songs)
a) Nehéz tudni célját, végit / Hard to know a craft   [2:07]
b) Lányom, lányom, gyöngyvirágom / Daughter, daughter, lily of the valley   [1:36]

10 - Diákdalok daloskönyvekből / Student songs from melodiaries
a) Mikor még én gyermek voltam / When I was still a child   [0:58]
b) Beborult régi napom fénye / Sadness on a day once gay   [3:08]
c) Nem leszek már én szerelmes / I'll never love again   [1:04]

11 - Diákdal Sárospatakról / Student song from Sárospatak
Bodrog partján / At the shore of the Bodrog   [3:59]

12 - Giovanni PICCHI: Ballo Ongaro   [3:02]

13 - Dalok a Kájoni kódexből és a Vietórisz-kódexből / Songs from the Kájoni codex and Vietórisz codex
a) A nyúl éneke / The rabbit's song   [1:24]
b) Ritka kertben / In the scanty garden   [1:19]


Benkő Dániel: #1-7, 9, 10-13
Czidra László: #6, 8, 11
Szunyog Balázs: #5

Benkő Dániel • lant, gitár (#1-7,9-13)
Czidra László • furulya (#2, 6, 8, 10-13)
Pitti Katalin • szoprán (#1-3, 5, 7, 9-11, 13)
Harsányi Zsolt • furulya (#8)

Early Hungarian Songs from the 16th to the 19th centuries

Katalin Pitti has undertaken to present in roughly seventy minutes a cross section of the entire stock of old Hungarian songs. Hungarian listeners will find most of the airs quite familiar since in the past half century "flower songs" have advanced to become performance music. Music lovers from other countries are not as yet as acquainted with these songs because for one, they do not know the language, and for the other, these songs have no original accompaniment. Actually, the singing was accompanied by a lute, a dulcimer, percussion. wind, string or other instruments, but the accompaniment was not written down. We can only hope that now, with fitting musical accompaniment, these songs approach the mark of works by Dowland. L. Milan, and the other great songwriters.

The "flower song" is a typically Hungarian genre. It is a love song whose composer is not known and in this it is akin to folksongs. The songs we have selected (#1) stem probably from the 17th and 18th centuries and survive as manuscripts. The codex songs on our record, like the songs from the Kájoni (#13) and Vietórisz (#5) manuscripts are similar to flower songs. They have typically baroque Hungarian folk melodies and were sensibly selected in the 1680s by two codex writers, one from Transylvania, the other from Upper Hungary. The Kájoni codex, named after János Kájoni, is a collection which presently is considered lost, though Transylvania may still come up with a surprise in this respect.*

Our necessarily limited selection includes an instrumental piece (#8) from the Vietórisz codex, which with the around four hundred religious and secular songs and instrumental pieces contained in the manuscript is one of the richest collections in Hungarian musical literature. In eastern Hungary, and especially its Calvinist areas around Debrecen and Sárospatak, the students of the colleges studied and loved the arts and sang not only religious songs at school and church celebrations but liked to treat worldly subjects no less. Ten melodiaries survive from these student collections of which we have selected the less ribald ones (#10). Their topics, of course, are love and wine. In the same vein is Ádám Pálóczi Horváth’s collection entitled Ötödfélszáz énekek (Four Hundred Fifty Songs). The great patriot Pálóczi took on the enormous task of writing down the most significant melodies of his time, to which he added his own "concoctions". He began his work in the early 1800s as a late follower of the great West European predecessors like Phalčse, Susato and Attaignant, but also preceding the significant melody collectors of the following century, Kodály and Bartók (#9). Another 19th century figure was the great Hungarian poet Mihály Csokonai Vitéz (#3). His poems were used as lyrics to the recruiting songs characteristic of Hungary at that time, which, however, had their roots in German music. The iambic beat is typically western, and the scanning Hungarian text does not easily adapt to it. We have added recruiting songs with Hungarian subjects by two outstanding contemporary guitar composers, J. K. Mertz from Pozsony (Bratislava), and J. Padowetz from southern Hungary (#4).

Bálint Balassi was a great Hungarian poet of the 16th century, and a contemporary of the famous lutist Bálint Bakfark. But unlike Bakfark, Balassi spent his life in Hungary and died in battle against the Turks. Following the tradition of the time he wrote his poems "ad notam", meaning that he set them to known tunes. The two songs on our record (#2) were written to choral music for three voices by the famous contemporary German composer, Jacob Regnart. Our collection contains a single "foreign" piece, the "Ballo Ongaro" from the Italian composer Giovanni Picchi's Intavolatura di Balli published in Venice in 1620 (#12). It is a Hungarian dance with variations and a jumping dance. At least one dance is taken from the contemporary foreign, mainly Polish and West European collections, the Passamezzo Ungaro (Ungarischer Tantz, Saltus Hungaricus). In the 16th and 17th centuries it was quite fashionable to compose Hungarian dances. It was a way of calling the West's attention to the Hungarian nation's struggle for life against the Turks. As these collections reveal, the Hungarians are a people who even in times of hardship have not forgotten to sing, make merry, and write love songs. These they pass on to be enjoyed by posterity. I hope that out assortment will prove worthy of the labours of our predecessors.

Dániel Benkő

* The Kájoni codex was rediscovered in 1985.

# 6, 8, 12