Notting Hill '56

Mario De Biasi, 1-4,  John Sadovy, 5

1956. October, November. Revolution, brutality, annihilation. Budapest raped by Khruschev's Soviets days, before my twelfth birthday. I bade a quick goodbye to childhood, conscious for the first time that there was such a thing as hell on earth. In London, with my father, we listened to BBC reports gravely delivered in the Lidell-ian English of the time. We showed our solidarity, from Pembridge Square walking streets Chopin had known to the Hungarian Embassy at 35 Eaton Place, Belgravia, the star, hammer and sickle torn from the flag. Hungarian refugees became a familiar sight in North Kensington and Notting Hill, the more welcome for their exoticism and cultural aristocracy, the flashing light of their eyes. Through Fred Warburg (father's publisher), Paloczi-Horvath brought the reality home. Hungarian music – Liszt, Bartók, Kodály … fleeing Hungarian pianists, Cziffra, the young Tamás Vásáry – permeated my life, firing my imagination. The east held me. A girl in blue from Bratislava touched my heart. Poetic, plaited, pale. Dvořák was the soundtrack of our dreams that smokey autumn. Dance, song, the strains of bandura and accordion wafting across from the Ukrainian Association in Linden Gardens, another. Three years later I took up the piano.


Shenzhen, China

30 March 2017

rev 30 March 2023

Sándor Kiss