Miklós Lukács played the first tunes on this brand new cimbalom

Concert hall operators have just as a hard time these days as the audience. It cannot even be predicted when they can open their doors again. But on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon in late November there was still some joy present in the Müpa. The new cimbalom purchased by the institution finally arrived. Before, they always had to borrow one. Cimbalom is an instrument associated with Hungarian folk music but also used in classical pieces and jazz, and it was also supposed to be the protagonist of a concert planned for the 28th November, The Grand Masters of the Cimbalom.

Due to the pandemic, the duo of Kálmán Balogh and Miklós Lukács cannot play in front of a live audience now. However, the concert will still be played, but behind closed doors, and it will be part of the institution’s archive.

It is a still open question when audience can hear the new instrument live, which depends mainly on the pandemic. Musicians still have the time to “heat up” the cimbalom, so that it can debut in the best shape. It was unveiled at a private event in the concert hall, in the presence of creator Ákos Nagy and cimbalom artist Miklós Lukács.

Ákos Nagy proudly presents his work. (c) Gábor Kotschy/Müpa

While Lukács tried the instrument in front of cameras and video recorders, he asked the instrument maker whether he works a lot today. Despite the pandemic, Ákos Nagy has enough requests for the new two years, so he is part of the minority within the music industry whose profession was kind of unaffected by the pandemic. The 43-year-old musician was delighted with the cimbalom.

“It is always a wonderful feeling to play a new instrument. What an important moment for a musician to play the first tunes and let the resonance of the object run through their body…! The Müpa is now richer with a great instrument which has a fantastic sound, all registers have an equal, beautiful sound”

– Miklós Lukács complimented. He also explained that the first thing for a cimbalom artist to try is whether the sound is nice “round”, and whether the bottom and top registers have the same tone.

The master’s name. (c) Gábor Kotschy/Müpa

“A new instrument always has to be heated up. If I play abroad, there is often no time for that, so I have to feel the cimbalom quickly. After half an hour, I get used to it, my hand gets to know the pecularities” 

– he said.

Miklós Lukács and Ákos Nagy. (c) Gábor Kotschy/Müpa

Ákos Nagy was greatly honoured when the Müpa ordered the instrument from him. He paid a lot of attention to the local conditions, both in terms of the sound and the looks of the new cimbalom.

The cimbalom, mostly made from food, is a delicate instrument, especially because it has a traction of 12,5 tons held by a wooden structure. This is the reason why cimbaloms usually don’t last longer than 80-100 years, which is relatively short in the realm of instruments. According to current plans, the brand new cimbalom by Ákos Nagy will be introduced to the audience next year.

Article: Zsolt Várkonyi

Translation: Zsófia Hacsek