Lynn Hooker

Heritage Institutions and Romani Music and Musicians in Twenty-First-Century Hungary

April 11, 2024 (Thursday) — 5:15 PM to 6:30 PM
Lerner Center
Penn Music Building
201 S. 34th Street, Room 101

This lecture coincides with a performance of Penn Music's Ensemble in Residence, the Daedelus Quartet, scheduled for Wednesday, April 10th, from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Kislak Center.

From the beginning of Bartók’s and Kodály’s research to today, “authentic folk music” in Hungary has been understood to be rural, and urban “Gypsy music” has been largely excluded. In recent decades, musicians and culture workers have struggled over the implications of this concept in new institutions of “heritage” [hagyomány]. In the words of museum studies scholar Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, heritage is “a new mode of cultural production that has recourse to the past”–it “add[s] value” to old practices in a way that “speaks in and to the present, even if it does so in terms of the past.”[1] That value impacts access to institutional and financial support. Hungarian Heritage House [Hagyományok Háza], the institution in charge of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, the Mártin Médiatár (archive of folk music and dance), and outreach programs for folk music, dance, and other folk arts, has cultivated a robust network of scholars and practitioners across the Carpathian Basin. While rural Romani musicians have served for decades as important informants for those scholars, urban Romani musicians have mostly been ignored, and fewer restaurants provided live “Gypsy music.” Beginning in 2017, Hungarian Heritage House supported urban Romani bands providing music in restaurants and cafés. This program has largely ended since the COVID pandemic. Using a combination of interviews and documents, this presentation shows how some urban Romani musicians have strived for greater acknowledgement of and support for their contributions to Hungarian heritage.

[1] Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “Theorizing Heritage,” Ethnomusicology 39, no. 3 (Fall 1995), 370.


Lynn M. Hooker is Associate Professor of Music in the Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance at Purdue University. She studies music, identity, heritage, and markets in nineteenth- to twenty-first-century Eastern Europe, particularly in Hungarian-speaking areas. Her book Redefining Hungarian Music from Liszt to Bartók was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. She has published on music and modernism, nationalism, race, and popular and folk culture, in (among other places) Musical Quarterly, Ethnomusicology, Anthropology of East Europe Review, The Cambridge Companion to Operetta, Twentieth-Century Music, and European Meetings in Ethnomusicology. Since 2000 she has conducted fieldwork in Europe and North America in Hungarian folk and popular music scenes, with a focus on Romani performers. Her current project, funded by the National Endowment of Humanities, Fulbright, Indiana University, and Purdue University, addresses the transformation of Hungary’s “Gypsy music” industry since the mid-twentieth century, using oral history interviews and archival research.