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St. Gellert Festival
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Title Do we need a Hungarian culture?
Géza Szőcs (Hungarian Junior Minister for Culture)

Do we need a Hungarian culture? This question can only be answered when we have given a positive answer to a much broader question: Do we need a culture in general? This can hardly be our current task. However, let us suppose that we find arguments convincing us, mankind, that we do need a culture. From this point on, the subject of our lecture can be approached along two logical approaches.

The first one: to provide a particular (and preferably coherent) interpretation of the world – figuratively, the Hungarian mandala – that, as a sublimated imprint of inevitable forces of the universe, is able to enlighten the facts and correlations regarding the existence of mankind as experienced and explored only by us (us, Hungarians). How can the existence be interpreted through the metaphysics of a descending la-ending melodic line? What does a painting of a cedar of Lebanon expose about us? What perspectives does a semicircular arch of a Székely gate from Transylvania open? No one has yet attempted to integrate these, and a number of similar questions, in a uniform and private ("Hungarian") system of aesthetics. If anyone ever ventured a try, the eventual attempts must have been all unsuccessful. Many people would probably not like such an attempt, which would undoubtedly carry the risk of the analyst focusing on the national features (e. g. their enumeration or advertisement) instead of their universal message. Let us agree at this point that we still owe an ontological interpretation of the Hungarian intellectual properties to ourselves – but let us also add that this is not necessarily "our task", its solution is neither our privilege nor our monopoly.

The other logical approach, which allows us to risk a specific answer to the inquiry searching for the meaning of the Hungarian culture, is far more practical. It has a much more functional aspect and wishes to define one meaning of the Hungarian culture with transmission, the exchange of intellectual values, and a role in this field. Although this approach would definitely delimit the meaning of Hungarian culture to a culture with a service providing-transmitting, thus a medium character, by providing entirely practical arguments on the useful role of this culture as described above, please allow me to tell you a metaphorical story about a friend of mine from Switzerland.

This citizen of Zurich – let us call him Mr. Szőllősi – was called one day on the phone by an unknown Hungarian man. He introduced himself, and told Mr. Szőllősi that he had found his name in a telephone book. He made a proposal, in which he asked Mr. Szőllősi to come to a business meeting to be the interpreter from and into German language. The meeting would last only about one hour and his efforts would be rewarded with a nice sum of money.

Mr. Szőllősi became interested and said yes to the offer. The meeting took place the next day in an office at the given address as follows. The local businessman, a company director spoke German, Mr. Szőllősi translated from German into Hungarian. The unknown telephone caller arrived with a Japanese businessman and translated from Hungarian into Japanese and the words of the Japanese partner back into Hungarian. The meeting went back and forth between the German and the Japanese partner, mediated by the two Hungarians.
After the meeting, Mr. Szőllősi invited his new acquaintance to a drink, since he was curious to know what he had just got himself into. The young man told him that he has been in love with the Japanese all through his life, he had learned Japanese and all he wanted is to go to and live in Japan. One day he came across an advertisement of a Japanese company looking for an interpreter to translate from Japanese into any of the European languages. Since Hungarian is a European language, he successfully applied for the job.

This was the company's best investment - blinked the Hungarian from afar at Mr. Szőllősi. – Wherever there is a meeting of the Japanese company, in any city of the world, he opens the local telephone book at the letter 'Sz', "the most important Hungarian letter". End every time so far, he has always found a person with the surname Szabó, Székely, Szilágyi, Szántó, Szász, Szekeres or Szűcs, and no one has ever said no to the same question he had also asked Mr. Szőllősi. And all the meetings take place without any problems, whether in Portugal, Norway or the Netherlands.

So much for the story that, as I said, is to be conceived as a metaphor. The utilitarian and essentially market-driven approach of culture, even if it is disturbing, is not necessarily exclusive. The transmission of values is a spiritual deed, even if nobody is paying for it.

Music downloads

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to the St.Gellert Festival
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Magyar Himnusz
(Hungarian Anthem)
Orchestra: St. Gellert Academy
Conductor:
Robert Christian Bachmann

Inno Pontificio
(Pontifical Anthem)
Orchestra: St. Gellert Academy
Conductor:
Robert Christian Bachmann

AVE MARIA
from "Epitaph"
by Robert Christian Bachmann
Orchestra: St. Gellert Academy
Conductor: Yoon Kuk Lee
Soprano: Lydia Rathkolb

Laudate Dominum KV 339
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra: St. Gellert Academy
Conductor: Yoon Kuk Lee
Soprano: Lydia Rathkolb

Symphony No. 7, 4th movement
by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra: St. Gellert Academy
Conductor:
Robert Christian Bachmann


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