The musicians of Méra

I was ten when I first went to Transylvania, to Kalotaszeg and the village of Méra. That was the Christmas of 1963. During the holidays my mother Jolán Borbély and my foster-father György Martin wanted to continue the work they had started in the previous years on their folkmusic and folkdance collection. Complete with camera, cine camera and tape-recorder we arrived at Kolozsvár, then with the first morning train we went on to Méra. Rural friends of my parents -at the same time the "informants" for the etnographical collections -, the Tszegi and the Varga family were our hosts. They welcomed us with so much love and joy that I felt as if we had come to celebrate Christmas with some long lost relatives of ours. Still today I recall that loving atmosphere with pleasure, as those two groups of people rejoiced at being together. As a big family we were sitting at the table, when under the window music sounded. The Gypsies had come to sing Christmas greetins. Old Árus and his band. They sang and in return they were offered fruit brandy and cake. They were walking from door to door as other chnating groups did that night, but they gladly stayed for a while to chat and to play music. It was then that I realized that this was the music that I had heard at home on the tape-recorder several times and loved very much. That this music had a face and that it is played by people. Tinka had already tought me to dance a bit at home, and when the band played the legényes, I had to stand up and show it. At this Feri árus threw the double-bass away and set about dancing, too. He began to pommel his boot-uppers to the wild music, it sounded like a machine-gun. Tha one day I would be a musician too had not yet even occurred to me. But that night, this experience once and for all tied me to Kalotaszeg, to dance and to music. Henceforth, whenever he saw me with the village boys having come to dance, the old árus always changed the music to a jaunty tune. He knew everyone's favourite melody in the village. His music followed the life of many from baptism to the coffin. When he died the young people of Méra carried him to the cemetery on their shoulders. The friendships which my parents made in Méra, we inherited. My son learned to play music here and was confirmed in the church of Méra. We batised our daughter here also and so our childhood friends became the godparents of our children. Tóni Rudi Kormos from the old band of Méra played with uncle Neti Sanyi at the baptism which we held secretly, hiding from the authorities in the house of uncle Hangya Józsi. First, Rudi followed the old árus to the cemetery and then Feri árus died, who had taught not only me but several other young people from Budapest to dance the legényes. He was the one from the old band who was able to go to Holland as a musician and dancer with Neti Sanyi's band. In Holland, where he sang, "Transylvania is my homeland, not Germany" for their record. Béla Árus went finnaly too. In his last years he took much pleasure in gathering the young people from Budapest and abroad around himself who were learning the music of Kalotaszeg. Two years ago he still played with the "boys" out in the sheepfold. No one is alive from the old band anymore, but the people of Méra often mention how nicely the music of árus sounded from the hill in the night when the old uncle Feri practised with his sons.

Péter Éri Muzsikás band, Budapest

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"Neti Sanyi", kalotaszegi prímás 1987

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