Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered a congratulatory speech at the gala held on April 23, 2016 in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Romania) to mark Zoltán Kallós’s 90th birthday. (Watch Kallós’s birthday song here.)
Kallós is an extraordinary man; a true treasure of Hungarian folk culture. Born in 1926 in an ethnic Hungarian family in Transylvania, Romania, in a small village called Válaszút (Răscruci), he first became a teacher. Later he studied music at the Conservatory in Kolozsvár and started to collect songs, dances and stories from rural areas of Transylvania and Moldavia.
Living under Communist rule in Romania was not always easy. He had trouble with the Ceaușescu regime and even spent time in prison. A passionate musicologist-ethnographer, Kallós collected thousands of songs, dances and ballads acknowledging Transylvania’s various cultures. Hungarian, Romanian, Roma and Jewish folk music live side-by-side and often mix.
In 1992, Kallós established a foundation which also operates a boarding-school at Válaszút (Răscruci). He also organizes popular children’s folk music camps each year.
George Csicsery, a California-based documentary filmmaker and Chris Teerink, a Dutch cinematographer, followed Kallós for years in Transylvania and made a visually stunning documentary entitled Songs Along a Stony Road. The film is accessible on the internet although it still is a “work in progress.” To understand Kallós’s work you must see it. (Watch the film here with English subtitles.)
Also, here is the full text of Prime Minister Orbán’s speech. We all agree with that Kallós “for many decades has been travelling tirelessly, from village to village, from one soul to the next, in order to rescue, preserve and pass on the treasures of Hungarian culture.”
Happy Birthday Zoltán Kallós!