The Contemporary Folk Music Scene in Budapest: Explorations of Revival and Post-Revival

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

1278 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis presents an ethnographic analysis of the contemporary folk music scene in Budapest, based primarily on fieldwork in the city between 2013-2015. It draws on concepts from ethnomusicology, cultural studies and popular music studies, while sustaining a particular focus on the frameworks of 'revival' and 'post-revival’. To begin, I examine one of the most problematic aspects of folk music in Hungary: its role in the construction of national identity and in the mediation of ‘Hungarianness’ (magyarság). Taking into account recent shifts in political ideology, I scrutinise certain governmental processes that seek to redefine folk music as national heritage. In so doing, I consider the emerging tension between a tendency towards nationalist preservation compared to prevalent globalising forces in the twenty-first century.

Turning to ‘revival’ and ‘post-revival’ frameworks more explicitly, I first acknowledge the new wave of popularity that has permeated Budapest’s folk scene in recent years, and then identify ways in which the contemporary folk scene has changed since the first folk revival in the 1970s (the dance house movement). In my discussion, I investigate the professionalization of folk musicians bolstered by educational initiatives and an industry-based infrastructure, the transformation of the urban folk scene, and the diversification of musical styles relating to folk music to the point where some might be considered ‘trendy’. I question the continued use of Livingston's (1999) revival model and explore more recent contributions to revival theory. In particular, I analyse key criteria of ‘post-revival’ as advocated by Bithell and Hill (2014) and consider their relevance to the Hungarian case. Enriching my discussion, I draw from similar studies of contemporary folk music scenes in England, Greece, America and Finland and probe alternative terms put forward by scholars, including, ‘resurgence’ and a ‘second revival’.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Beckles Willson, Rachel, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • Revival
  • Post-revival
  • Folk music
  • Budapest
  • Scene
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Hungary
  • Heritage

Cite this