Bartok at the Bar - A Remembrance...
Just a couple of days ago, this event leaped back into my consciousness after decades of absolute somnolence - how and why this had been totally forgotten for so long a period is beyond any power of reason I possess.
When on my Amerika Haus tour in Germany, I visited a section of downtown Frankfurt with some friends, and we came across a little Hungarian restaurant with the words "Dios Teszta" printed on a sign in the window. First of all, be assured that none of us knew what these words meant -what prompted us to enter this little place was the sound of piano music.
A few tables, and an equally small bar constituted the interior.
And a piano - an old upright close to the bar, and a middle-aged gentleman playing what sounded to me like a folk tune in the Hungarian idiom.
We were led to a table by a fellow who was also the waiter, who spoke English quite well, and recited a brief list of dishes available, including those two words we saw on the sign on the window. He informed us that it was a classic Hungarian favorite composed of pasta and walnut. and the specialty of the house. I do not recall, of course, what else we ordered. But we must have enjoyed the meal, as nothing leaps into my memory up to this moment.
But the reason for my recalling this event was not the food, but the pianist at the bar. Sometime during the meal he began to play some of the music of Bartok - sections of the composer's music, interrupted by various little Hungarian folk tunes, in obvious random - imagine! - a medley of little tunes, interlaced with some of the quieter Bartok I was familiar with.
I found myself at the bar, hoping that this man spoke English - he did.
He had studied for a short time with Bartok in New York, toward the end of the composer's life. And he fed me other information about his brief experience with the great musician. I did not press him in any way. I just listened to him talk.
To be brief, I visited this little place a few times by myself, and remember playing the Allegro Barbaro of Bartok on the upright (it was the only music by Bartok that I knew at the time). Hours of eating Dios Teszta and discussion about music...
That's all I can recall - I do not recall asking this man more about himself. I knew absolutely nothing more about him than you, the reader.
And that's all that I can recall - WHY did this event recur after all these years?
It's the ONLY time that I have ever eaten dios teszta - this event did occur. This special form of pasta, and this man playing Bartok at a bar...