This is a medley I arranged for my Family Tradition album in 2007 of two old Croatian / Hungarian cabaret songs. My father's family emigrated to the United States from what is now called Burgenland, Austria. The ethnic makeup of this region is Germanic Austrian, as well as Croatian and Hungarian- so the repertoire of our family orchestra consisted of Csardas, Kolos, and story songs like these in addition to the polkas, waltzes, laendlers, and schottisches that our family identified with.
Fijaker Stari translates in English to the "Old Carriage" and the lyrics sing of the carriage carrying the memory of a lost love through the streets of the city. The medley continues with a song in tribute to the Hungarian capital city of Budapest. I choose to perform these songs instrumentally as I enjoy the beauty of the melodies singing through the reeds of the accordion-- and also because of my respect of the singers I identify these songs with. Zvonko Bogdan is one of the great singers from Serbia who has crossed the ethnic and political borders into Croatian and Hungarian music to symbolize the power of music to unite. I have enjoyed his recordings for my entire life- and Fijaker Stari is one of his enduring classics-- with recordings with Croatian tamburasi master- Janike Balaz and Hungarian primas violinist Sandor Lakatos, in addition to a landmark with American tamburasi masters Jerry Grcevich and Sviraj.
I always associate the song Budapest with the late great singer Frank Mikisits of Bethlehem, PA. His recordings in the 1970s set the gold standard for Hungarian folk music in the United States. The swagger, emotion and sentimentality of these beautiful melodies paired with the harmonic motion and elasticity of the rhythm evoked an empathy for a time and place that his generation of immigrants really identified with. A few generations removed, these songs resonate with me to almost speak with an ideal of the past that is carried within all of us from wherever our ancestors emigrated, as well as a path to follow as our journeys continue to wander around this Earth.