Trubadur Şarkilari
Troubadour Songs
Kobzos Kiss Tamás


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1 - A l'entrada del temps clar   [2:52]
2 - Raimbaut de VAQUEIRAS: Kalenda maya   [5:16]
3 - Richard COEUR-DE-LION: Ja nulhs hom pres non dira sa razon   [5: 08]
4 - Gaucelm FAIDIT: Fortz chausa es   [4:26]
5 - Bernard de VENTADORN: Quan vey la lauzeta   [3:17]
6 - MARCABRU: L'autrier just una sebissa   [2:52]
7 - Ich was ayn chint so wolgetan (CB 185)   [2:24]
8 - Ecce torpet (CB 3)   [2:31]
9 - Dulce solum natali patriae (CB 119)   [3:12]
10 - Virgen madre groriosa (CSM 340) – Como poden (CSM 166)   [3:47]
11 - Oswald von WOLKENSTEIN: Do fragyg amors   [1:58]
12 - Regis regum civis ave   [2:31]
13 - Saginsamen bahasiz qanini   [4:40]
14 - Evvel benem ahir benem (Yunus Emre)   [3:57]


Kobzos Kiss Tamás • koboz (#1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11), tekerőlant (#3, 4, 8, 12, 13), saz (#14)

My life, my music, my masters, my friends

I was born in Debrecen in 1950. During my university education at chemistry department, 'folkdance movement' has begun in Transylvania. By the encouragement of this and the effect of memories, I've begun to play piano, guitar and then the peculiar old instruments. The last hurdy-gurdy maker was still alive and the koboz was in sale in the shops of Transylvania. These Mid Europe instruments were very suitable with Middle Age music. The presence of old-style playing technique and learning process of Transylvanian style of singing were very important and educating (this similarity in the case of Anatolian Turkish music was mentioned by Bartók Béla).

Between 1974-1979 I worked in various museums of Budapest as chemist-restorer and took my place in Kaláka music group. I could use this knowledge and experience very productively in Kecskés Ensemble (lead by L. Kecskés András, lute player) performing Hungarian and West European music. In 1984 we made an album by Hungaroton with the title 'Ancient Turkish Music in Europe'. I have obtained the instrument 'saz' whose voice was very familiar to me (I heard it many times on the radio I had made in my youth), but I had no idea about its shape at all; until I got one from the Turkish Ambassador in that time, Osman Başman. I am grateful to him.

Since 1981 I have performed the music of the Middle Ages with the Clemencic Consort from Vienna (troubadour music, Carmina Burana, Cantigas de Santa Maria). I feel thankful to this group because they keep the eastern and western music in a balance (in a harmony with the will of René Clemencic, the 82 years old lad). I thank to René Zosso and Eberhard Kummer for the marvelous hurdy-gurdy and vocal performances and Esmail Vasseghi for his santur-tombak improvisations which has always fascinated the audience. Since 1983 I have performed with the contemporary music group of Szabados György.

Between 1982-1990 I worked with the Occitan musician Miquču Montanaro. By him I discovered the world and language of troubadours. In 1986 we made an album of songs of Gaucelm Faidit with Hungaroton. Our 'duo' changed into a 'trio' with the participation of Maurizio Mingardi from Venice. We made an album of Bernard de Ventadorn songs. I got a great help from the linguist Miquela Stenta during my language education. I have learned much listening the album records too, I am seriously inspired by the voice and style of Martin Best.

Since 1986 I am a koboz teacher and since 1991 I am the director of Óbudai Népzenei Iskola (Óbuda Folkmusic School) in Budapest.

In 1991 I met Erdal Şalikoğlu. He introduced detailed the Bektaşi songs to me, that I have always listened with enthusiasm. The voices of Aşık Veysel, Feyzullah Çınar, Talip Özkan and others have fascinated me the first time I heard them in 1980. Recognizing this miraculously conserved style has been very helpful for me to perform the European Middle Age music more authentically. 'Authentic' of course a complicated concept; but there is so little left from music and especially rhythm, so 'intuition' is strongly necessary to make the audience believe in that; this song, in some manner, could have been sung in this way.

Between 1988-2008 I took part in more than 25 albums and made many solo albums. Besides I have performances in favorite concert halls of Europe, USA, Japan and Turkey (Royal Festival Hall, Lincoln Center, Musicverein, Theatre de la Ville, Tokyo Gyosei Sygakko Hall, B.Ü. Albert Hall etc.) and festivals.

Notable awards: Hungarian Republic Golden Medal (1988), Tinódi Lute Award (2005), Hungarian Heritage Award (2006), Prima Award (2006).

My instruments:

tekerőlant (hurdy-gurdy), Bársony Mihály – Tiszaújfalu, 1984
koboz (kobza), Ferencz Tamás – Sepsiszentgyörgy (Transylvania), 2005
bağlama (saz), Veli Yay – Istanbul, 2000

This is my short life story and I am very pleased to taste this flavour with the Turkish audience too. I took out from the deep-freeze just now, alive, I am defrosting slowly and serving freshly.

Troubadour songs

Earliest trubadours flourished in the eleventh century in Provence, today a region of southern France, in Limousine and in Auvergne. The texts of troubadour songs deal mainly with themes courtly love, known in medieval France as 'fine love' or fin amour. The language of the troubadours was the local language Occitan known also as langue d'oc of Provence. Troubadour means 'inventer' or 'composer' in Occitan language.

By the middle of the thirteenth century activities of the troubadours choked up for a period of time due to the Crusades and aggression towards Catharists. Alfonso el Sabio's (Alfonso the Wise) court became a place of refuge for many troubadours. Eastern effects can also be traced in troubadour music. A number of instruments played by the troubadours had been introduced to Europe by the Arabs from Asia and Northern Africa. Troubadour poetry influenced European culture for centuries. Their style remained in the North (Trouvére in Northern French), among Italians and Iberia. The Minnesäng – the German counterpart – also took its roots from troubadour tradition. The troubadours came from a variety of backgrounds, such as popes, clergyman, aristocrats and rulers. Still many troubadours are described in their vidas (a brief biography, literally meaning 'life') or in razos (short piece of Occitan prose detailing the circumstances of a particular composition) as composers or performers from lower classes. But both the vidas and razors are historically doubtful since they are not authentic. Some of the troubadours were either performers or poets but most of them performed their own compositions and songs.

1. A l'entrada del temps clar

'Ballada' or 'dansa'. Dance song with refrain. It conserves the memories of traditions about spring celebrations. It ridicules the jealous husband and honors the fest queen.

2. Kalenda maya

Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1155-60 – 1207) took part in the 4th Crusade. Besides being one of the most important troubadours due to his personal style and poetry technique, this piece of his heard here, the 'Kalenda Maya' is one of the most well-known troubadour pieces. According to the legend, a dance piece performed by two fidula players (fidula: a stringed instrument of the Middle Ages) inspired the poet. It tells the story of a desperate love ascribed to a lady named 'Beatriz'.

3. Ja nulhs hom pres non dira sa razon

Richard Coeur-de-Lion (1157 – 1199), King of England was one of the war-lords of the 3rd Crusade and at the same time a 'troubadour'. This song of complaint was written by him during his captive at Dürnstein (Austria), and exists both in French and Occitan languages.

4. Fortz chausa es

Gaucelm Faidit, about whom we know very little, had written this lament (planh) after the death of his lord King Richard, and afterwards he travelled to Hungary with the accompaniment of the troubadour Peire Vidal and Constance of Aragon. He lived in the court of King Imre for 6 years.

5. Quan vey la lauzeta

Bernard de Ventadorn is the most productive troubadour. We know 40 poems of his, 20 of these are in song form. He was born in the castle of Ventadorn. We can follow his works between 1147 – 1170. The poem 'When I see the lark' is one of the most beautiful love poems of European literature. It is the very song that had inspired Dante.

6. L'autrier just una sebissa

Marcabru (fl. 1129 – 1150) was from Gascony, born in the first decade of the twelfth century. He had many patrons throughout France and Spain, including Guillaume X of Aquitaine, the son of 'the first troubadour', and Alfonso VII of Castile and Leon. The low birth and noble patronage are reflected in his point of view and in the variety of his style. From this moral urgency and highly idiomatic style arises some of the most difficult poetry in the whole, troubadour canon. At the other end are songs extolling true love; and other songs, such as 'A la fontana' and the pastorela, which dramatize a profoundly medieval view of right order – they are among the most civilized utterances in Provençal poetry. About fourty-two lyrics are extant. The most frequent theme in his songs is the distinction between true love and false love.

Carmina Burana (7., 8. and 9.)

The manuscript which had taken the name 'Carmina Burana' from Benediktbeuern near München (where it was first discovered); could have been written in the middle of 13th century in Tirol or Karinthia. Mainly in Latin language, it consists of songs from the end of 11th century to the beginning of 13th century. However mostly written by famous writers, e.g. Archipoëta or Hugo von Orleans and the others ; yet there are Middle Age German or old-French texts too. The themes of the songs are extremely variable. Besides the frequently used religious songs of those times; parodies and obscene songs also exist in the codex. These texts had been diffused by traveler-musicians, Bohemian-students and Golliards (Golliard-songs: Middle Age European secular music. The songs are telling about the beauty of nature, the joy of love, drinking and student life). Probably due to this, they had been obliged to hide the codex. This explains the very late discovery (1803) of it. By the aid of some admonitory and explanatory notes, it has been possible to reconstruct some of these songs. The world-wide famous musician and music-historian René Clemencic from Vienna has played main role in this field.

7. Ich was ayn chint so wolgetan (CB 185)

An atmosphere is made up using Latin and Middle Age German languages respectively. This style attractively suits the erotic content. An old lady recalls her youth and she accuses the linden trees for the lost of her virginity... and tells the details.

8. Ecce torpet (CB 3)

A song condemning greedy and envy. This is not the one and only example in this collection.

9. Dulce solum natali patriae (CB 119)

Farewell song of a pathetic love. Written by the influence of Ovidius.

10. Cantigas de Sancta Maria – Virgen madre groriosa (CSM 340) – Como poden (CSM 166)

Saint Mary Songs had born by the request of Alfonso the Wise (Alfonso el Sabio), the king of Leon and Castile. He had personally worked in the literary procedure of 420 songs- praising Virgin Mary or telling about her miracles. The notes of these songs are easily readable. Due to this and the wonderful illustrations depicting the Christian, Arab and Jew musicians, it is the most valuable and esteemed source of Middle Age music.

11. Do fragyg amors

Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377 – 1445) is the most meaningful composer of his time. We know 105 compositions of his and 40 of these are poly-toned. During his adventurous life, respectively as a soldier, merchant, then serving for Sigismund the Roman-German Emperor and King of Hungary; he had been to all over Austria and Near- East. Plenty of his songs had testified his journeys. He had been to Hungary very frequently. So the Hungarian language took place in his song of 'seven languages' (written for his wife).

12. Regis regum civis ave

Hymn of St. Ladislaus (1046 – 1095), King of Hungary (detail). He had protected the borders of his homeland from the robber enemies with permanent success, so he had been very popular during his life. His appearance had reflected to our times by means of many legends. His daughter, Piroska had been wife of John II Komnenos, the Emperor of Byzantium (by the name Irene). Her appearance had been made immortal by a mosaic in Hagia-Sophia Basilica.

13. Saginsamen bahasiz qanini

A hymn in Cumanian from the 'Codex Cumanicus' conserved in the San Marco Library in Venice. In the first part one can find Latin-Persian-Cumanian vocabulary, collected and written by Italian emigrant merchants. In the 1340s , the German Fransiscan missionaries had gathered the second part, so enriched the vocabulary by German and immortalized the text translated to Cumanian. The translator had used the old Turkish 'syllabic-meter rhythm', instead of the original 'time-measuring poetry' technique.

14. Evvel benem ahir benem

The poetry of Yunus Emre (who lived between 1238-1320) is a universal worth of humanity. This piece heard here is a small appetizer from the album that we have made with Erdal Şalikoğlu in 2006 with the title 'Gel gör beni aşk neyledi' (See, what the love made of me).

Kobzos Kiss Tamás
(Translation: Erdal Şalikoğlu)