Bartók’s Travels

A talk given by Roy Rashbrook at the Hungarian Cultural Centre

As a typical English music student in the late 1980s, one of Roy Rashbrook’s chief frames of reference with regard to Hungarian Culture was the music of Bartók. In English schools, the first thing one is taught about Bartók is that he incorporated Hungarian folk melodies into his music. This puts him neatly into the same category as his British contemporary Vaughan Williams. However, as his studies progressed, so increased his frustration at the apparent lack of musical examples to back up this information. They would always be played excerpts from Bartók’s oevre, but never an example of real Hungarian folk music to illustrate the similarity. Having first met, then fallen in love with and eventually married a Hungarian, he was keen to find out more about the folk-music tradition, and was astonished to find a musical language that didn’t seem to fit with the music of Bartók at all. The real story, (as ever) turns out to be more complicated and provides a fascinating insight into Hungary’s past and cultural development.

Roy Rashbrook was educated at Dauntsey’s School, going on to study Music at Goldsmith’s College and Singing under Alexander Oliver, William McAlpine and Rudolf Piernay at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. After a brief flirtation with a career in teaching, Roy became a professional singer in 1998, joining the world famous choir of Saint Paul’s Cathedral the following year. He also sings regularly with such groups as The King’s Consort and The Clerks, combining their various performing, touring and recording schedules with his work as a soloist, singing teacher and conductor. He has conducted several choirs and ensembles, including the Goldsmiths’ Chorus, The University of London Union Chorus, The Hanover Singers and Candlelight Opera. He is currently musical director of two choirs: Hart Voices (Fleet, Hampshire) and The Chantry Singers (Guildford, Surrey).

Roy has performed as a soloist with many of Britain’s leading orchestras including the City of London Sinfonia, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the London Mozart Players. In addition to performances in all London’s best-known concert venues, his work has taken him all over the country and throughout Europe as well as to Israel and the States. His recent conducting work includes performances of Holst’s Planets Suite, Rachamaninov’s Vespers, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Solomon and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle as well as of his own close harmony arrangements of a number of songs taken from the world of film. Recent tenor solo engagements include the rôle of Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I0 Maiden Lane,Covent Garden,
London WC2E 7NA
on the 21 May at 7pm.

Free but booking is required. Please call 020 7240 8448 or email