Hear the extraordinary Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos live in London

Simon BroughtonMon 23rd May 2016

Lakatos brings his ensemble to Kings Place as part of the Songlines Encounters festival on June 4

He plays a Stradivarius violin, he was praised by Yehudi Menuhin and he has a virtuoso moustache. The extraordinary Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos plays at the Songlines Encounters festival at Kings Place, London, on June 4. 

Lakatos was born in Budapest in 1965 and comes from one of the most celebrated families of Hungarian Gypsy musicians. 'The Gundel Restaurant was the Lakatos place for years. Already during World War I my great-grandfather was playing there,' says Lakatos. From the 19th century, Budapest was famous for its Gypsy music and Gundel, close to the Széchenyi Baths in the City Park, was one of the prime places for the musical and culinary experience. Over the years its guests have included Yasser Arafat, Sir Alex Ferguson and Queen Elizabeth II.

He’s a direct descendent of János Bihari (1764-1827), the most celebrated Gypsy band leader of the early 19th century who directly inspired the Gypsy music of Liszt and later Brahms in his Hungarian Dances. János Bihari himself couldn’t write music, but he could certainly compose and his pieces were written down by his contemporaries and have been passed on – certainly within the Lakatos family. 'My father played all the pieces,' Lakatos says. Does he have a favourite? 'I love "Hejre Kati",' he says. 'It’s very technical, very virtuoso like Sarasate or Paganini and it’s become my speciality.'

For his Songlines Encounters concert, Roby Lakatos explores this distinctive repertoire that is all his own.

For more information about this concert, visit: www.kingsplace.co.uk

Simon Broughton

Simon Broughton is Editor-in-chief of Songlines – the definitive magazine for world music. Visit: www.songlines.co.uk

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