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Béla Babai

Béla Babai

Béla Babai
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Bandleader
Was Musician Conductor Bandmaster
From United States of America
Type Music
Gender male
Birth 1914
Death 1 October 1997 (aged 83 years)
The details


Béla Babai (Kaposvár, Hungary cir. 1914 – Nesconset, New York) October 1, 1997) was a Hungarian American musician and interpreter of romani music. Babai was born in Hungary and emigrated to the United States late 1930s, where he became famous as "The King of the Gypsy Violin".

Babai grew up in a Romani area near his birthplace and he learned to play the violin at a young age. At age 12 he would play in a local cafe, and in later years he would keep a clipping about those performances.

After he emigrated to the United States he noticed that the music from his country was played in Hungarian restaurants. Babai started an orchestra in which he played the violin, accompanied by a kontras (second fiddler), a bratchas (violist), a bogos (double bass), a cimbalom-player, and a cellist.

In 1953 he left Chicago for New York, where he performed in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Babai was married, and had a son and two daughters.


  • An Evening in Budapest with Bela Babai (1934)
  • Gypsy Moods
  • Gypsy Love (1957) (as Bela Babai and his Orchestra)
  • An Evening at Chardas (as Bela Babai and his Fiery Gypsies)
  • Frénésie Tzigane (as Bella Babaï)
  • Gypsy Panorama
  • Spiel Für Mich, Zigeuner! (as Bela Babai und sein Ungarisches Ensemble)
  • Play For Me Gypsy (as Bela Babai and his Hungarian Ensemble)
  • Haunting Hungarian Melodies (as Bela Babai and his Gypsy Orchestra)
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