Tribute to Lajos Szamosi by György Sébök

Message In A Bottle 1

I hope that whoever picks up this booklet — this piecing together of the fragments and traces of an extraordinary life — will forgive my borrowing this beautiful title. 2 And I hope also that they will overlook my personal tone, which I cannot seem to avoid whenever I think about Lajos Szamosi: the silver-haired old magician, my friend, sometime advisor, often object of my amazement as with good humor, optimism, and the radiance of an inner equilibrium he began countless new lives wherever the storms of this century tossed him.

I knew him in Budapest during the war years, near the beginning of his professional career. There, while working as a teacher of singing, he lived on the margins of society, on the periphery of the music world, where the little provincial private teachers and charlatans operate. From there, he attempted to propagate his beautiful and wise new theories. Even at that time and in that place he was surrounded by a set of fascinating and valuable people: a circle which invariably formed around him wherever he settled down for any length of time.

His students were not equipped with extraordinary vocal abilities. Those young singers who had glorious voices and high promise were naturally attracted to the mainstream, like the man in the fable who seeks treasure not where it lies, but where the light is brightest.

Of course, there were exceptions. Those like Oscar Ascher 3, who owed his voice and speech technique to Lajos Szamosi and who gave him credit whenever he could, or Laszlo Csabai, who had a successful operatic career in America. But the majority of his students were mediocre and, on occasion, substandard. The real miracle was what he managed to achieve with these semi-talents. For years I was witness to a succession of singers with bulging eyes, swollen veins and choked voices who undid their inner knots and managed to turn the limited vocal abilities that they were born with into flexible and natural instruments.

1.  Written as the preface to a booklet of essays by Lajos Szamosi, published in Hungary in 1990.
2.  A reference to the work of Hungary's most famous humorist/writer, Frigyes Karinthy.
3.  A famous Hungarian actor/speaker.

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