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In memory of Tihamér Vujicsics

I can no longer recall where I first met “Tihy”, as I used to call him. Perhaps at the Sztoján house, or maybe at the Club. But the most memorable time was certainly when he first visited me in my meagre basement studio. After he’d looked at my sculptures, he pulled his indispensable recorder out of his inside pocket, and in return he improvised a show, which involuntarily put me in mind of the performance given by Chaplin in Picasso’s studio.

After that we often sat together for a shorter or longer time – most recently perhaps in Ohrid, where we were each the guest of a different symposium – but did not speak about either art or music. At such times the standard of our conversation was mainly influenced by the quantity of alcohol consumed.

So after that I only had a brief glance into Tihy’s artistic world, especially because at that time I was mainly into the contemporary avant-garde. Both film music and the music of the Balkan peoples, it seemed, were quite far removed from this. But today, now that the heroic modernity of Petrovics and Szokolay has worn a little thin, and also given the more cynical attitude of our times, I believe that Tihamér Vujicsics’s music has come to be seen in a new light. Its impact is beyond doubt, I believe, both in a positive and in a negative sense. This is because, as regards the latter, I’m not fond of the new interpretation of Hungarian folk music as slapstick and brash rather than dignified and poetic. The wallowing in these lowest – but not deepest – layers of the folk soul, however – and I consider this to be positive – has also brought to the surface an important value, that of folk surrealism, which has found its way back to music through the intermediation of László Nagy. So, in order to answer the next question, Tihamér’s music is as Serbian or Hungarian as this folk music, kneaded together from all types of nations.

He had an interesting head; after his death I modelled it several times. At such times the sculptor and his model enter into a strange relationship. Much is revealed about this relationship – if it is not a study per se – by the material of the portrait, and the site where it is erected. This derives from the essence of sculpture, and in my case a particular characteristic is that it recreates a deceased prominent personality from their works, disregarding their individual foibles, as if looking at them with the eyes of posterity. In other words, it monumentalises them. Stone or bronze is a suitable material for this. And a worthy site is a sizeable pedestal near to the main entrance of the building... But nevertheless I chose walnut, and placed the portrait in the music hall. 2 There were two reasons for this decision: one was that the gates of the music school – as far as I remember – were decorated with portrait reliefs of Bartók and Kodály, and I didn’t want to upstage these with a free-standing round sculpture. The other reason was the aforementioned personal relationship, to which the more intimate, warmer structure of wood was much better suited. (published in: “They didn’t give the nod to decay” In memory of Tihamér Vujicsics (compiled by: Lajos Gracza) Balassi Kiadó, Budapest, 2007, 53-54.)