Mihály Sipos was born in 1948 in Budapest, Hungary. His ancestors on his father’s side were shepherds. His grandmother knew their old traditional songs and dances. His maternal grandfather was a great singer and lover of classical music. He gave Sipos his first violin at a young age. Sipos’s mother learned piano at the Liszt Music Academy, so he grew up in a musical surrounding.
Sipos became a student at one of the famous music schools established by Zoltán Kodály where he started to play the violin at seven.
He studied the classical violin for 11 years. Sipos became involved with traditional music in 1972. In 1973 he founded the group Muzsikas along with his two friends, Daniel Hamar and Sándor Csoóri. He became the musical director of the band.
Aside from the violin, he plays the citera in Muzsikas. Sipos is the artistic director of most of the concerts and ensemble recordings and is also the coordinator between Muzsikas and the guest classical musicians.
Dániel Hamar was born in 1951 in Budapest, Hungary. He started to play the piano when he was seven and took up the classical double bass at fifteen.
He became a member of the Symphony Orchestra of St. Stephan Grammar School, and although this orchestra was considered to be amateur, the best Hungarian soloists and conductors performed with them, and many of its young musicians became professionals.
Hamar started to play traditional Hungarian music when he was 22. As was the case with almost all classically-trained musicians, Hamar knew little about traditional Hungarian music until he began to play it.
He visited remote Hungarian villages to learn the old techniques of playing, and established the group Muzsikas with his friends Sándor Csoóri and Mihaly Sipos in 1973.
Hamar plays double-bass and percussion instruments in the band. He is the spokesman for Muzsikas and the official leader of the band.
Dániel Hamar graduated as a geophysicist from the Eötvös University in 1974 and earned a Ph.D in 1994. He is a senior research fellow of the Space Research Group of Eötvös University, Budapest. Dániel Hamar is married and has four sons.
Living Hungarian Folk Music I. Muzsikás (Hungaroton Gong)
Muzsikás delves deep into the roots of central European history by combining Jewish, Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Gypsy influences to bring the world a rich, complex and mysterious Transylvanian tradition. As part of the folk revival that swept Hungary two decades ago, in response to the straitjacketed approach of Russian state-sponsored folklore, Muzsikás played tanchez when it was dangerous to do so.
Now an even broader audience has discovered the talents of their stellar vocalist, Marta Sebestyén through her work on the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film, The English Patient and the Grammy winning Boheme by Deep Forest. Exhilarating audiences with their outstanding musicianship and their devotion to seeking out obscure and interesting music, Muzsikás has become one of the world’s top performing ensembles.
Péter Éri was born in 1953 in Budapest, Hungary. As a ten-year old child he won the first prize of a dance competition with dancing the Lads’ Dance of Kalotaszeg, accompanied by his schoolmate Andras Schiff, who is currently a world famous pianist.
His stepfather, Dr György Martin, a well-known ethnographer, brought young Éri to his trips where he collected Hungarian traditional dances and instrumental music and consequentially Éri as a child made his first connections with living musical and dance traditions.
At 14, Éri became the dancer of the Bartók Dance Ensamble where he was an active dancer for six years. His interest in the music continued. He became the bass player of the first Hungarian folk revival band, the Sebő Group. At that time the singer of this band was a young woman called Marta Sebestyen.
Meanwhile when the band Muzsikas was formed in 1973, Éri became the guest musician of the band. In 1978 he became a full member.
Éri graduated from Eötvös University of Budapest as an ethnographer and philologist of Romanian language and literature.
He plays the viola, the three-string “kontra”, mandolin and different types of flutes.