Budapest native and multi-instrumentalist Kornél Magyar learned to play piano as a child. At age 14 he found a love of percussion, which he went on to study in Southeast Asia. His current gig: ensuring the music-themed Aria Hotel Budapest hits all the right notes with guests as its music director. He accomplishes this through everything from elevator soundtracks to daily performances by local musicians – even if it means pulling a harmonica out of his pocket to join pianists in the hotel’s Music Garden.
Musician who best captures Budapest’s spirit: Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, aka “Sa-Chi,” a Roma jazz pianist celebrated across genres from classic to jazz to pop.
Favorite musical feature at the hotel: Our famous Hungarian-made Bogányi piano. It’s visually stunning – some say it looks like a black Ferrari or Darth Vader’s helmet – and it sounds magical during our daily wine and cheese reception.
Rough estimate of how many songs play throughout the hotel in a day: Around 3,000 – and that was rough, as I listened to all of them in their entirety when making the playlists.
The key to creating a great elevator soundtrack: Realize this isn’t the place to expose claustrophobic people to your favorite avant-garde music. You’re supposed to help them survive.
On weekends, we’ll always find a fun crowd at: The ruin bar district for the party/dance scene. For local jazz, Budapest Jazz Club holds hot jam sessions every Friday and Saturday.
Where can guests hear you perform? Earlier this year, I played at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, but it’s rare, due to my other duties. Sometimes I play chill-out improvisations on percussion and live electronics for our hotel yoga sessions.
When you’re out on the town, we’ll likely find you at: The Music Academy or the Palace of Arts for vocalists and classical and world music, or Budapest or Opus jazz clubs.
Top Photo: Stefan Fuertbauer