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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

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xxxBagpiping in Slovakiaxxx

Bagpiper Fekiac from Zvolen

~ A Tradition Saved ~

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Yet another place where traditional and unique bagpiping flourished for centuries but recently teetered on the very brink of extinction is Slovakia, the right-hand half (as it were) of the former Czechoslovakia now formally known as the Slovak Republic. Slovakian culture has of course been subject to all of the destructive forces that have afflicted Eastern Europe during the past century, but as elsewhere a small number of astute and dedicated individuals have managed, in these now happier days, to initiate a revival of piping.

Prominent in this effort is Milano Rusko, of Bratislava, Secretary of the Slovak Bagpiper's Guild. Milan, whose activities include teaching children to play, says, "There are only about 35 bagpipers in Slovakia, but the piping tradition is still living in some villages." The Guild has organized an annual bagpipe festival, now in its 12th year. Milan can be contacted via email through this link.

Regarding the bagpipes themselves, Milan reports that "the instrument used in central and southern Slovakia has a double chanter (with ‘clarinet' single reeds) and one drone. The bagpipe is similar to Hungarian, but does not have a ‘flea hole' and therefore is strictly diatonic."

He goes on to say that "in the Orava region (Northern Slovakia) a two-voiced bagpipe was played in combination with one or two violins. The same bands one can find in Poland (Beskyd Zywiecky) and in Moravia (Czech Republic - Moravske Beskydy)." (See photo, below.)

Following are a few photographs from Slovakia, supplied by Milan. We hope to have more extensive information available before long, perhaps including some music, about Slovak bagpiping. We also wish the Slovak Bagpiper's Guild the greatest success in its work of preserving these musical traditions, not only for their own culture but for all the world. ~ O.S.

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