Interview with Dániel Dinyés
fidelio: When did you realise that things are getting serious?
Dániel Dinyés: The seriousness of the epidemic itself is still difficult to understand. But its influence on our lives, and precisely on the lives of people working in the cultural field, is already immense. The biggest trouble is not three or four months forced downtime – but its consequences. Unfortunately we are yet to realise the fact that as artists we work in the field that is the first to halt in the case of emergency and the last to resume once things are settled. And this is not because the world is evil, or because people don’t care, but because of our social structure and hierarchy.
You can make it philosophical: the life comes before art, but without art, does life even matter?
When things get real, it is not the time for philosophical deliberation. In such situation action speaks louder than words. And this will confront many orchestras, theaters, and artists with this reality. Many will quit or slowly give up because of what is happening. And it will have nothing to do with talent or determination. It’s about pure economy that will drive them to a decision dictated not by opportunity, but by necessity. But fair enough, art was never on a high position among necessities.
What do you advise others to do nowadays?
Stay at home and only take care of your loved ones and of yourself. Hungary is a big family, everyone is in contact with everyone. According to Karinthy’s famous six-step distance theory, any two people in the world can be connected to each other through at most five other people. This is especially true here in Hungary, and the virus doesn’t need as many steps, just one.
Our advice is: stay at home, listen to the music, read, watch movies, talk to your loved ones, at home or via phone.
In short, treat it as a vacation and try to stay alert for when it will be over, we will need to get to work and start rebuilding things right away. But in the meantime, relax and gather energy for the future.
You are keeping yourself busy: you started a Lieder Post series on Facebook. Is this something you normally do, making music at home, and now you just decided to share it?
Of course, we always sit together and sing. If we decided to share it now, it’s to keep the spirits high in the others, who are alone, and those who see these times in a very dark way. Some think it will never end. It will be over at some point, and it will be very important in what kind of mental and physical condition we are when the time comes. For us this is a way to help on the mental condition of the others, along with caring for our loved ones. I talk to my friends a lot, many of them are already scared about what will happen with them, and I understand this. I always tell them the story of my grandmother, who was born in 1916, rebuilt Hungary three times (including ’56), was deprived of basic necessities, lost her loved ones, and spent her entire life cleaning up and building new life on the ruins. Was she broken, bitter or frustrated person when I met her in the ’80s? Not the least. She was always cheerful and had a chill attitude to things that allowed her to adjust easily. She was always adapting to the situation by looking for one thing: the possibility of growth. If she could do this for 96 years, how I could say I am not able to sit home for four months? Then I will have to fight just like she did to rebuilt the world around us, but if she went for it three times, I can do it once.
And how do you spend your time at home? How do you manage the isolation?
We do a lot of gardening and put our creativity into cooking – à la Rossini … Since we live in Göd, when the weather is good, we walk out to the Danube to enjoy the spring, to look at the Pilis hills and the opening flowerbuds, and the river. Klári cared for her roses and practices every day, and I can finally listen to all the music that has accumulated over the years, discovering composers that I only knew by name. And, of course, we watch a lot of netflix series, especially Scandinavian criminals, Klari’s big favorites. We try to go ahead as if we were on vacation so that we are relaxed and full of energy once the epidemic is over and there’s a ton of work to do.
What will be your first thing to do?
It will be to look around and to find out where the help is most needed, and how can we provide it as soon as possible. No one should ever think that there’ll be no need for them once this is over.