Listen to Beautiful Hungarian Folk Music

Kaláka Hungarian Folk Music- Kid World CitizenToday’s we’re listening to Hungarian folk music. My friend Olivia Szabo is from a small industrial town on the river in Hungary (Dunaújváros – which roughly translates to “new town on the Danube”). I met her when she moved to the US in 1999. Her daughter, Gaia, is about to start Kindergarten and her son, Galen, is entering the terrible twos. Olivia teaches English to international students and what she enjoys the most about living in the US is the diversity. She shares with us some popular folk music from Hungary: enjoy!

Becky: I read a great article on PBS Kids that talked about what music kids should listen to, and how listening to a variety of genres may help them learn better.  In the article, Peggy Durbin (a music educator at Kindermusik in Columbia, MD) suggested having children interact with the music by clapping, dancing, and playing instruments.  As for choosing the music

The best musical library for your child includes a wide variety. [Lili] Levinowitz (cofounder of Music Together and Professor of Music Education at Rowan University of New Jersey) compares music you play to the foods you serve: you don’t want your child eating only mac and cheese, or similarly, listening to the same CD all the time. “Create an ear food buffet,” she says. Your musical menu should consist of songs from your culture and those around the world, as well as music that you love.

I discovered Hungarian folk music at a local international festival. The light, energetic, and colorful music is produced by flutes, horns, the Hungarian bagpipe called duda, zither aka citera, and the most important instrument: the violin.  Next time your kids are doing an art project, cooking with you, or even just playing in the same room as you, play some of these folk songs. Point out Hungary on a map, and enjoy the images in the videos while you absorb the sounds. Diversify your music!

Olivia:  This first song is called Repülj madár, repülj (Fly Bird, fly), by Muzsikás & Sebestyén Márta (Hungarian folk group). The images include flowers of Hungarian folk art, and pictures of a village called Hollókő (Raven-stone). “It’s located in a picturesque hilly surrounding, in a valley of the Cserhát Mountains. The castle of Hollókő was built in the 13th century. This castle on top of the neighboring hill determined the life of the villagers for a long time.”

The next piece is a violin duet. “Lajkó Félix is amazing and mixes his own style with traditional folk music, resulting in something very unique. He improvises a lot and the other musicians have to try and keep up with him.”

These next two below also mix traditional Hungarian folk music with other music (from the Balkans as well as contemporary tunes). The first is Beáta Palya singing acoustically.

The second is Csík Zenekar, is probably the most popular one right now and they’re regulars at all kinds of music festivals and loved by all ages. Most of the really popular musicians mix traditional folk music with more contemporary stuff, which is really cool and interesting. Here’s a song by one of my favorite contemporary bands, Quimby, sung by Csík Zenekar (this song has become a kind of national anthem – it’s unbelievably popular and has been covered by numerous artists).

Here’s another song by another alternative rock band, Kispál és a Borz, also covered by Csík Zenekar:

Finally, here’s some fantastic authentic Gypsy music by the Szászcsávás Cigányzenekar (the music starts around 2:30).

Thank you so much Olivia!!!! My girls especially loved all of the violinists:).

By Category

By Date


  1. says

    I was lucky enough to listen to a wonderful Hungarian folk band playing in a restaurant while I was working in Budapest. So lively and fun (the people AND the music)

What do you think? I love to hear from my readers:).