The Figure of Lajos Kossuth in the Folk Music of Minority Hungarians
Almost in the same time when Kossuth left for exile, the people started to wait for his return. The words of the following folk song, the melody of which comes from times prior to the war, make it evident that it emerged subsequent to the war: Emlékezzünk Kossuth Lajosra / Visszagyű még mi országunkba! [Let us remember of Lajos Kossuth / He will return in our homeland!] It is the great respect for Kossuth again that becomes manifest in the fact that the people accepted his emigration, what is more, considered it the only possible solution. This is revealed by the line Jobban tette, hogy elillantott / A törökhöz hogy általugrott [He was right to escape / To go to the Turkish] that ethnographer Ákos Garay recorded on phonograph in Slavonia.
Jobban tette, hogy elillantott, / Az törökhöz hogy általugrott, / Onnan elment a franciához, / Rendbe tette kato-, katonaságot.
He was right to escape / To go to the Turkish / And then to the French, / He sorted the military out.
The following generally known verse was recorded already in the 1860s, and Kodály wrote it down in Mohi (today a nuclear power plant stands in its place), in former Bars county, in 1914:
Debrecentől Nagyváradig / Megy az út, megy az út, / Azon mént el, azon mént el / a Kossúth, a Kossúth.
From Debrecen to Nagyvárad / The road runs, the road runs, / He left that way, he left that way / the Kossuth, the Kossuth.
Other varieties formulate this as follows: Elkészült mán a vasút, a vasút / Azon gyün Garibaldi Kossuth [Ready is the railway, the railway / Garibalid Kossuth arrive that way]. In our folk song Garibaldi csárdás kiskalapja [The little csardas hat of Garibaldi] (with other words: Cifra szűröm szegre van akasztva [My fancy cloak is hanged on a nail]) known in all areas - and consciously preserved among the Hungarians of the Csallóköz up to our days - as we all know, Kossuth Lajos neve ragyog [the name of Kossuth shines] on the hat of Garibaldi. One of the Garibaldi songs, the well-known Kerek ez a zsemle [This roll is round] song (which dates back to prior to 1848) written in the style of folk songs survived in Transylvania and among the Székely of Bukovina in the version beginning with Szennyes az én ingem [My shirt is dirty] (with the encouraging Majd hoz Kossuth Tisztát / Türr Pista meg puskát [Kossuth will bring a clean one / And Pista Türr a gun] lines). Among those in Bukovina - as shown by the collection of Mária Domonkos from 1979) “The name of Lajos Kossuth is frequently mentioned, for he was a hero of Hungarian liberty!” One of their greatly skilled singer sang the folk song like this (see Tari 1998. Music 69):
Garibaldi vagyok, / Senkitől sem tartok. / Kossuth a pajtásom, Klapka a barátom, / Éljen mind a három!
[Garibaldi I am, / l fear no men. / Kossuth is my mate, Kalpka is my firend, / Long live all three of them!]
As a witness of the people waiting for Kossuth the return we have only a march-like Jő, jő, jő, jő, jő Kossuth, jő [Comes, comes, comes, comes, comes, Kossuth, comes] song, the music of which was recorded by István Bartalus in the 19th century. It was sung during the Austrian-ltalian-French war in the hope that Kossuth can regain the liberty of Hungary with English, French and Turkish assistance (see Tari 1998. Music 79)
The name of Kossuth was even more spiritualised after his death, as revealed by the varieties of the Kossuth song and other folk songs referring to historic circumstances and the songs about his figure that emerged in later times. His name and figure were really integrated into tradition, since the words of the known Kossuth song were connected to former melodies already according to the earliest collections. Béla Vikár recorded on the phonograph a noble folk song in 1903, the words of which are those of the well-known Kossuth song, while its melody belongs among those pentatonic folk songs performed parlando rubato that fundamentally changed earlier ideas concerning Hungarian folk music thanks to the research of Bartók and Kodály. Already this recording - which he noted down with Bartók subsequently - indicated that the memory of Kossuth and the respect for the ideas of 1848 have been a continuously present reality among the peasants and that the words of the Kossuth song, beyond the most widely known melody, was also combined with many other from among various stylistic layers of our folk music. Subsequent folk music collections revealed that these words were added to old dancing tunes as well. One like this is the egyházasfalu (Vlahita) in former Udvarhely (Odorhei) county in 1960.
New folk songs, in which Kossuth was the protagonist also emerged after his death and elements concerning Kossuth were added to the words of earlier songs. Among these, the Ha a Kossuth-bankó folyna, többet adnék rája! [If Kossuth notes were flowing, I would care more!] part of our folk song Hej, a mohi hegy borának száz forint az ára [Hey, the wine of the Mohi hill costs a hundred] that preserves the musical heritage of the Rákóczi era. This became known among the folks songs collected by Kodály in Mohi, in former Bars county. These folk song show it clearly that the melodies of the verses on Kossuth that became folk songs are varied with respect to their musical style. We can find among them folk songs - the words and melodies of which originated prior to 1848 -, which were connected to the figure of Kossuth during the war of independence or subsequent to it. The song Kossuth Lajos táborában/Két szál majoranna [In the camp of Lajos Kossuth / Two leaves of marjoram] is like this (it also survived among the Székely in Bukovina) (see Tari 1998. Music 18), together with the well-known folk song Most szép lenni katonának / Mert Kossuthnak verbuválnak [It is nice to be a soldier now / Because we are recruited to Kossuth]. Although this folk song became generally known starting out form Zala county, it has also been preserved in Székely Land and Maros-Torda county as an instrumental dance tune (see Tari 1998. Music 29). From among our folk songs of some other old style, we can find words referring to Kossuth among the 11-syllabic, sung dance tunes from the Mezöség. The collections conducted between the two world wars also recorded knew data, for example, from Székely Land. One of these (Kossuth izenete eljött / Magyar nemzet talán győzött [The message of Kossuth has arrived / The Flungarian nation might have won]) has been published in the publication containing songs on 1848. (Mathia 1948. Music 3). With respect both to words and melody, we have a rich song material concerning Kossuth, connected to the new style of Hungarian folk songs which had expanded by the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A few pieces of it can also be found among the Hungarians living outside the borders. One such folk song is the one beginning with Kossuth Lajos udvarába van egy rezgő nyárfa [There is a trembling aspen in the garden of Lajos Kossuth], which can be found in the repertory of both the Hungarians in Upper Hungary and those e. g. along the Kis-Küküllö - also as a dance tune among the latter.
Historical circumstances, unfortunately, have not made it possible for folk music researchers to gather the musical heritage in connection to Lajos Kossuth from all over and in their fullness. This way, the overview based on collections conducted among Hungarians living beyond the borders cannot be but disproportionate, since we hardly have any data e. g. from Ruthenia and Burgenland. Should we establish a list on the quantity of the collections in this subject matter, we could rank Transylvania as first (within it. Székely Land) and Bukovina, the northern dialect area of folk music as second, and the Southern Regions as third. We have little data from Moldova (we found one melody in the volume on folk songs on 1848: Kossuth lova megérdemli a zabot [The horse of Kossuth deserves the oat], see Mathia 1948. Music 7). We have not even tried to discuss these traditions of Hungarians living in other parts of the world, since we have no adequate data at our disposal. Still, the number and richness of songs connected to the figure of Kossuth remain almost inexhaustible. It is already of particular importance in the history of folk music that folk songs were sung about someone in his life and they have not lost from their impact ever since. On the contrary, the folk songs on Lajos Kossuth that expanded in number after 1850, greatly contributed to the renewal and enrichment of our minstrelsy and folk music. The respect, and the wish to remember and remind people of Kossuth that lived in the peasants, found its proper form of expression in every new guise as the style of music was changing. In their songs and instrumental pieces, the Hungarian folk have worthily preserved, with respect and love due only heroes, the figure of the outstanding patriot and the ideas of 1848, even in a minority status. They gave the most beautiful thing to Kossuth: their own songs and, through them, eternity. In our days, where common singing still has a tradition and a space between the new frameworks - e. g. in Nagycétény (Vel’ky Cetín) and Nyitranagykér in the former Nyitra county - the spirit of singing Kossuth songs has revived with renewed vigour.
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