Bihari, János

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Bihari, János

 

Born Oct. 24, 1764, in the village of Nagyabony; died Apr. 26, 1827, in Pest. Hungarian violinist and composer. By nationality a Gypsy.

Bihari was one of the creators of the style of Hungarian instrumental music known as verbunkos. Around 1801 he organized a dance orchestra in Pest, and he took it on tour through various countries in the capacity of violinist and conductor. A virtuoso who possessed a gift for improvisation, Bihari was renowned for his performances of Hungarian folk dances. He made extensive use of them in his own compositions and arrangements; most important among these were paraphrases of themes from the songs of the kurucs. Bihari has been credited with writing the melody for the Rákóczy March (named after the leader of the national liberation movement in Hungary), which became the Hungarian revolutionary march. (It gained wide popularity in treatments by H. Berlioz, F. Liszt, F. Erkel, and others.) Bihari’s creative art influenced 18th- and 19th-century composers from other countries.