Irén Lovász is not only one of the most respected Hungarian folk singers in the world, she is also an academic scholar in Human Sciences. She has her doctorate (PhD) in Ethnography. She brilliantly combines her scientific knowledge and her musical talent in her solo concerts, lectures and performances.
Irén grew up in the central region of Hungary. In her family folk songs were sung on a daily basis, and she learned her first folk songs from her parents and grandparents. As a university student of Linguistics and Literary Sciences she went on singing and began to collect and study ancient Hungarian folk songs in different regions of Hungary and in the Carpathian Basin: Romania, Slovakia, Croatia among ethnic Hungarians.
From 1987 – 1995 she worked as an ethnomusicologist at the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography, Department of Ethnomusicology overseeing the famous collection of Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and László Lajtha.
Between 1986 and 1995 she was also a university lecturer in Cultural Anthropology. In 1995 she was awarded her PhD in Ethnography.(She wrote her thesis on Sacred Communication: An Anthropological Study of Folk Prayers.)
In the 1980’s she belonged to the Hungarian folk music revival, the so-called dance house movement, and she was one of the best traditional folk singers, including in learning, studying, performing and teaching the authentic, pure folk songs. She won competitions in Hungary and abroad at international folk festivals from Wales to Finland.
Her first solo cd, Világfa (1995, and 1999. Fonó Records) appeared at the request of the Hungarian National Museum to be used as backround music for the exclusive archeological exhibition of the Millecentenarium of the Hungarian conquest. The music was created by László Hortobágyi.
Her first solo cd in Germany, Rosebuds in a Stoneyard (Erdenklang 1996) received the German Critics’ Award in the genre folk/world music.
She was also the soloist in Early Music groups, and even sang contemporary music, and worked with jazz musicians. She toured in Europe with the Berlin-based jazz guitarist, Ferenc Snétberger.(see. Obsession, Enja records 1998). She is also a member of the Gayan Uttejak Orchestra directed by László Hortobágyi.
An Estonian contemporary composer, Peeter Vähi wrote new music for her voice in which she sings early medieval Tibetan and Sanskrit language texts: Supreme Silence (CC’nC Records 2000).
From 1998 until 2003 she worked with the Makám group. Their project is based on ancient Hungarian folk songs, and the authentic performance of these with Irén’s voice. However, it also conceives a new musical world by the composer, Zoltán Krulik, using the language of contemporary music, employing the style of-ethno-jazz , and adopting different ethnic sounds and instruments of traditional cultures. Their collaborative cds are: Skanzen 1999, 9 Colinda 2001, and Sindbad 2002. (Fonó Records)
In 2000 she was invited as a vocal soloist for the Hungarian World Music orchestra.
Since 1999 she has been working with the Czech-Moravian-Slovak eclectic folk music group TEAGRASS. Their CD is titled: Wide is the Danube ( CC’nC Records 2000).
Since 2001 she has been a member of the so-called e-jam project, which is a mobile formation consisting on different European musicians and performing mainly in Austria.
In 2001 she performed a nice and sussessful concert repertoire of Hungarian Renaissance music, songs and poems with the classical lute player, István Kónya.
In 2001 she began her next project, an acoustic duo with a contrabass player, Attila Lőrinszky.
In 2003 she received The SINGER OF THE YEAR eMeRton AWARD in Hungary.
In 2005 she founded a new band, and with them she made a new cd: Cloud doors (Hungaroton Classic 2005). The new music is based on archaic Hungarian folk songs, sacred songs and medieval Gregorian chants. The style is ethno-jazz, worldmusic, crossover.
In 2006 on her own new label she started to publish a new cd series on Healing Voices, which was also recommended by the Hungarian Association of Music Therapists: Sacred Voice, (SIRENVOICES 2006), Inner Voice, (SIRENVOICES 2007).
In 2008 she made a crossover project with renown musicians of varied musical backgrounds, like Kornél Horváth (jazz), Béla Ágoston (folk, ethno-jazz) and István Győri, Zsolt Szabó (early music). The music is based on Hungarian Renaissance love poetry, folksongs and dance tunes of the 16-18th centuries. The cd is titled: Flower in love, (SIRENVOICES 2008.)
In 2009 she made a third, revised, remixed edition of her famous Világfa cd with László Hortobágyi : Világfa (SIRENVOICES 2009.)
Since 2010 she has been working as an Associate Professor of the Institute for Social-and Communication Sciences, KRE University, Budapest
CDs of IRÉN LOVÁSZ:
1. VILÁGFA (Music by László Hortobágyi) Budapest, National Museum 1995., Fonó Records 1999 (Hungary)
2. ROSEBUDS IN A STONEYARD (Music by László Hotobágyi), Erdenklang Music 1996.(Germany) RECEIVED THE GERMAN RECORD CRITIC’S AWARD IN 1996/3 IN THE GENRE FOLK/WORLD MUSIC!
3. SUPREME SILENCE (Music by Peeter Vähi) CCn’C Records 1998.(Germany-USA)
4. SKANZEN (Music: Makám, composed by: Zoltán Krulik) Fonó Records 1999. (Hungary)
5. WIDE IS THE DANUBE (Music: TEAGRASS, comp. by. Jiri Plocek) CC’nC 2000. (Germany)
6. 9 COLINDA (Music: Makám, composed by : Zoltán Krulik) Fonó Records 2001. (Hungary)
7. SINDBAD (Music: Makám, composed by: Zoltán Krulik) Fonó Records 2002. (Hungary)
8. CLOUD DOORS/ FELLEGAJTÓ ( Music: Mizsei, Lukács, Szokolay Dongó, Lovász). Hungaroton classic, 2005 (Hungary)
9. SACRED VOICE /ÉGI HANG, Healing voices 1. SIRENVOICES 2006.
10. INNER VOICE / BELSŐ HANG, Healing Voices 2. SIENVOICES 2007.
11. FLOWER IN LOVE/ Szerelmes Virág cd. SIRENVOICES 2008.
12. VILÁGFA Remix cd , SIRENVOICES 2009.
13. SOUNDSCAPE/HANGTÁJKÉP, IrénLovász-Groove&Voice Trio, Siren Voices, 2015.
15.Tri Hlasy/ Three Voices( Jitka Suranska, Irén Lovász, Michal Elia Kamal) Indies Sope, CZ, 2015.
16. NŐI HANG / Female Voice, Gyógyító Hangok 3., Siren Voices, 2017 .
17. GYÓGYÍTÓ HANG/ Healing Voice, Gyógyító Hangok 4. Siren Voices, 2023.
And she is a featured singer on different world music albums and compilations of several record companies around the world, or guest singer of various musical productions such as:
1. Traditional Music of Amygdala by László Hortobágyi, Erdenklang 1991, Germany
2. The Transglobal and Magical sound of László Hortobágyi, Network Medien GmbH 1996, Germany
3. Her Song, Shanachie Corp. 1996, USA
4. Tanz and Folkfest. Rudolstadt, Hei Deck 1997, Germany
5. Ferenc Snétberger: Obsession, Enja Records 1998, Germany
6. Origines,. Warner Music France, 1998, France
7. Ethnic voices and songs. , MINOS-EMI 1998, Greece
8. Mother Earth, MINOS-EMI 1998, Greece
9. Origins (De l’origine de l’Homme) Origins-EMI 1998, France
10. World Voices 1. Hearts of Space, 1998, USA
11. Ethnica and World Music, New Sounds 1998, Italy
12. Beautiful Morning…Koch Records 1999, Germany
13. World Festival of Sacred Music 1-2. CCn’C Records, 1999, Germany-USA
14. Hungarian Rhapsody Music by Kálmán Oláh and Peter Lehel, GOOD International Co., 2002. Korea
15. Contrasts + Parallels by Kálmán Oláh Trio, MA Recordings, 2004., Japan
16. I Sowed Pearls, Hungarian world music, Etnofon Records, 2007.
Prizes and Awards:
1996: German Record Critics’ Award.
2003: Singer of the Year Award, eMerton Prize, awarded by the Hungarian Radio.
2006. Béla Bartók Prize
2009. For Hungarian Arts Award
2020. Hungarian State Award: Magyarország Érdemes Művésze
2021. KOSSUTH–PRIZE : Hungarian State Award
2022. Honorary Citizen of Balatonszabadi
2022. Hungarian Heritage Prize
Kristóf (1994), Anna (1996), Júlia (1996)