Striking the distinctive twang of the national instrument of Hungary


Some of my most memorable musical experiences were in Budapest. As in most central European countries, you don’t have to look far to find something to please your ear.

here is the fluke of a Monday night many years ago, marking the step between the IAAF World Indoor Championships and a soccer qualifier that would help deliver Jack Charlton’s Ireland to the Cup of the Italian world. It was filled with the live sounds of Beethoven’s Ninth.

Or discovery, seeking refuge from the piercing cold of a Sunday in December, this afternoon tea by a roaring fire included a musical ritual all its own.
It was like pianist Franz Liszt upside down. Where the great 19th-century showman made his entrance by conspicuously removing his green silk gloves before beginning his performance, the star arrived here with a flamboyant pair of black gauntlets before picking up his tools and starting to play.


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