World Exhibition Paris 1878

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May 1, 1878 - October 31, 1878


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Csarda and Gypsy Musicians

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One of the most popular sights on the Champ-de-Mars is certainly the csarda or Hungarian hostel, a wooden construction, covered with thatch, which was erected on a piece of land given by the Spanish section, on the side of the Exhibition which borders the avenue Suffren.
The csarda is unfortunately too small to contain the huge crowd of visitors that the exhibition is expected to attract. Unfortunately, the csarda is too small to accommodate the enormous number of visitors it receives every day. It consists of a common room and a portico topped by a small balcony. On an adjoining platform, an orchestra of sixteen Gypsy musicians, or rather Hungarians, mixed with two or three more or less authentic Gypsies, constitutes the most powerful attraction of the place.

These musicians play various Hungarian pieces, alternated with German music, without omitting the most complicated waltzes of Strauss, all with ease and regularity, but also with too much dryness of play, increased by a too fast movement, however to the applause of the listeners, which is the main thing. Their instruments are violins, violas, cellos, double basses, a small clarinet and a tympanum, a struck string instrument, a kind of piano in its embryonic state. But what makes these already curious artists so special is that they seem to ignore fatigue. Playing music eighteen hours a day seems as natural to them as to a mechanical piano, with which one could find more than one other similarity. They play at the csarda from eleven in the morning to five in the evening; then at the Fanta restaurant, quai d'Orsay, until nine o'clock; then at the Orangerie des Tuileries, until eleven. After that, they are not infrequently requested by some rich private individual to come and add to the splendour of the ball or the evening he is giving the exotic brilliance of their playing, a request to which they always respond with the best grace in the world.

As for the csarda itself, as far as we have been able to judge from a first experience, it seems to have imposed on itself the mission of making us feel that Hungarian cuisine has the particularity of accommodating everything in a red pepper sauce. We don't mind this at all, but it does push the consumption of the wines, which are excellent, too far. We especially recommend the Dioszegï Bakar and the Palugyay Castle: it is the sauce that makes the chilli pepper come through, and would make it come through much better if it were necessary.

©Exposition Universelle de 1878