Treasures of Fieldwork on Music and Minorities. A Selection of Ursula Hemetek’s Field Recordings. CD with Booklet, German/English, 96 pages, Vienna: Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna 2016, RST 91790
The CD pictured here is a gift for the 60th birthday of internationally esteemed ethnomusicologist Ursula Hemetek, head of the Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology (IVE) at the mdw and designated Secretary General of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), where she spent years leading the Study Group on Music and Minorities. With this audio document, those who have produced it seek to honour Hemetek’s great services to research on the music of minorities in Austria. Ursula Hemetek is viewed as having been the initiator of academic research on forms and functions of music among Austria’s autochthonous and immigrant minorities. And in keeping with the spirit of applied ethnomusicology, she has also worked constantly to combat xenophobic prejudice by introducing her minority informants at musical events attended by the broader public (i.e., the majority).
This CD now presents “treasures” from the recordings collected by Hemetek that are archived at the IVE – 18 pieces of music selected by Hemetek’s students and companions Marko Kölbl (Burgenland Croatian music), Christiane Fennesz-Juhasz (Romani music), Philip V. Bohlman (Jewish music), Sofija Bajrektarević (Bosnian music), and Hande Sağlam (Turkish music). The extensive booklet with numerous musical transcriptions and illustrations informs listeners in German and English about the special characteristics and relevant contexts of these recordings. Many of them were created “in the field” – at events such as weddings or concerts – while others were made specifically for research purposes at the informants’ homes or at the department itself. Hemetek produced most of these recordings on her own.
And the present CD – which, apart from its value as a document, is immanently pleasurable to listen to – offers true pearls of folk and popular music from Austria’s minorities. It’s captivating to hear singers from Stinjaki/Stinatz (Burgenland) perform the ballad-like love song Oral jesam oral, touching how Rusza Nikolić-Lakatos lifts up her voice in the Romani hymn Gelem, gelem, rousing to hear effervescent Jewish klezmer tunes and Bosnian Sevdalinka songs performed by former refugees who made Vienna their new home. And it is nothing short of masterful how bağlama virtuoso Mansur Bildik, an immigrant from Turkey, develops a taqsim and then launches into the song On the Way to Üsküdar, which is widely known in the Balkan countries, as well. It is thus that, on this remarkable CD, one musical gem follows the other.