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Romani violinist Roby Lakatos is not only a scorching virtuoso, but a musician of extraordinary stylistic versatility. Equally comfortable performing classical music as he is playing jazz and his own Hungarian folk idiom, Lakatos is the rare musician who defies definition. He is referred to as a gypsy violinist or ‘devil’s fiddler’, a classical virtuoso, a jazz improviser, a composer and arranger, and a 19th-century throwback, and he is actually all of these things at once. He is the kind of universal musician so rarely encountered in our time—a player whose strength as an interpreter derives from his activities as an improviser and composer. He has performed in the great halls and festivals of Europe, Asia and America.
Born in 1965 into the legendary family of Romani violinists descended from János Bihari, ‘King of Gypsy Violinists’, Roby Lakatos was introduced to music as a child and at the age of nine he made his public debut as first violin in a Romani band. His musicianship evolved not only within his own family but also at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Budapest, where he won the first prize for classical violin in 1984. Between 1986 and 1996, he and his ensemble delighted audiences at the restaurant ‘Les Atéliers de la Grande Ille’ in Brussels, their musical home throughout this period. He has collaborated with Vadim Repin and Stéphane Grappelli, and his playing was greatly admired by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, who always made a point of visiting the place to hear Lakatos. In March 2004, Lakatos appeared to great acclaim with the London Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra’s ‘Genius of the Violin’ festival alongside Maxim Vengerov.
When Roby Lakatos mixes so-called ‘classical music’ with the magic of Hungarian-gypsy vitality, it is not disrespectful toward the classical tradition, but it reflects the deep tradition rooted in the cultural heritage of the Romani people and offers new, refreshing pleasures to the listener and music lover. And just as Liszt, Brahms and others used Hungarian overtones in their compositions, so now the public profits from the reuniting of these classics with their Romani roots. This enlivens all those men and women in whose veins still pulses at least a little bit of the blood of the wandering spirit.
Roby Lakatos has released five albums for avanticlassic to date: Prokofiev project with Polina Leschenko, Christian Poltéra and Martha Argerich; Fire Dance; Klezmer Karma with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Yiddish singer Myriam Fuks and accordionist Aldo Granato and; Roby Lakatos with Musical Friends with Stéphane Grappelli, Vadim Repin, Randy Brecker, Tony Lakatos - his brother and established jazz musician in his own right, Marc Fosset and the Vieuxtemps Quartet. La Passion live at Sydney Opera House.
- 1991: In Gypsy Style
- 1998: Alouette König der Zigeunergeiger
- 1998: Lakatos
- 1999: Post Phrasing Lakatos Best
- 1999: Live from Budapest
- 2002: Kinoshita Meets Lakatos
- 2002: As Time Goes By
- 2004: The Legend of the Toad
- 2005: Firedance
- 2006: Klezmer Karma
- 2006: Rodrigo y Gabriela (guest, one track: Ixtapa)
- 2008: Roby Lakatos with Musical Friends
- 2008: Boleritza (guest in Megitza Quartet album, two tracks: Mamo Temera, 17_14)
- 2013: La Passion: Live at Sydney Opera House