“Who Will Win – The Jazz or Gypsy, it is Hard to Tell.”

Gypsy Musicians Defend Hungarian National Culture

In this essay I focus on what is called the jazz era and try to examine how in Hungary the music played by Gypsy orchestras and by jazz bands became utterances in a discourse at the intersection of power relations inflected by ethnic, race, and nationalist concerns. The tunes of nationalism and revisionism in post-Trianon Hungary were mostly played by Gypsy orchestras when their members were also losing ground and their daily bread, due to the new fad, American jazz. While Gypsy musicians sought to keep their jobs by voicing xenophobic-nationalist agendas, jazz became to be identified as Race music on the other side of the Atlantic as part of the African American struggle for racial integration. I explore the process how jazz became the dominant urban fashion in Hungary, what the reactions of the Gypsy musicians and the political as well as music establishment were to jazz, and how the narrative of the racialized clash between Hungarian Gypsy music and American jazz emerged.

Released: Replika 101–102, 67–87.
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