about Levente

"This was the point when I understood the function of my music: to build a bridge between the elitist classical music and average people. This was the point when I felt I can create a great album."

I was born  in Budapest on the 21st of August in 1969.  I grew up in a religious intellectual family where the love of music was always present.  I encountered with music as a child when  I opened the big cupboard and  in a mysterious box  I found  my father's  old accordion.  Making it sound and playing melodies on it was a

hilarious discovery for me. This is when I was around 5 years old. A year later I remember performing  at a school programme where I played the accordion.  In the meantime I also found a violin at home which I also learned to play. That was the moment my parents  realised  I must learn music. At the age of  7 I started to play the piano and I proceeded better than the average. Practically I won every piano contests during my school years.  I think I fed up with contesting at that time. Because of the strict schedule at home my parents made me practice so much that my childish dormant personality could hardly  cope with and which resulted in a fact that I did not feel the weight of challenge. This was the time when I discovered beat music which we could get only through the filter of the iron curtain.  When my father's drumsticks used during his years  at university came by I found my mission: I would be a drummer! The idea later changed to saxophone and then guitar ....

 

Entering the doors of the conservatoire,  in spite of  being absorbed in the classical music I listened and played jazz as a young rebellious pianist hereby being the odd one and drawing the disparaging attention of my teachers.  Slowly my parents gave up the struggle with me being a classical musician. My career at the Music High School was not simple at all: because of my misbehaviour I had been fired and taken back twice. Finally I finished my studies performing the 3rd Piano Concerto by Rachmaninoff  and gained full marks from the director and professors.

 

 After finishing the High School of Music I was seeking my way out: I composed  music for commercials and two piano concertos; worked as a musician in theatres and even composed a song for a pop festival –but  I still felt lost. Then I oriented toward pop music and founded a boy band based on the then so fashionable model. Although I could not sing, after having learned to dance and sing for 2  years in 1993 I created my three-member pop band called Hip Hop Boyz.  Record company "Polygram"  offered us a 5- year contract which resulted our first album "Soul a rap" (Hungarian pun meaning the rap is ringing) where I was present as a composer, lyricist, arranger, singer, rapper, musician and producer.  A year later our video clip "15 years"  reached no. 2 at the National Festival of  Video clips. Soon we performed as the pre-act for Dr Alban in front of 14 000 people in the Budapest Sport Arena. Our video clip shot on the concert stayed in Top40 for 18 months.  In 1995 we toured with our next album "Hip Hop Boyz II" of  which destination  we performed in front of 20 000 as the preact of East 17. As a result of that we were invited to the "Total Dance Festival 2" organized in the Budapest Sport Arenal where 14 000 fans sang along the band's  hits.  The next album "Hip Hop Boyz III" was released by a new record company, "Record Express". Thanks to their management, while performing at Midem Festival in Cannes several label representatives took notice of us. The album  resulted in gold (25 000 sold copies) and then platinum (50 000 sold copies) albums within a couple of weeks and an invitation to Michael Jackson's  live show in Budapest. As a part of  the show we received the prize for the diamond (100 000 sold copies) album  - which was an extraordinary achievement. We made the English version of the album released and and distributed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The band also performed  with huge success at promotional events of the biggest TV and radio stations of the region alongside with chart-topping international artists . Our secret was a unique acrobatic-choreographed show.  By 1996 Hip Hop Boyz performed as the main Hungarian act for Total Dance Festival 3- a full house event – the very same show where the international main act was the then worldwide acknowledged Backstreet Boys and 'N-sync.  We closed that year with a triple-platinum album.

 

My  teenage dream – as to be a pop star – was fulfilled.  In spite of  this fact  I still felt  unhappy.  Something was missing from my life. Maybe private life... But the show went on... Signed contracts with multinational record company ( EMI),  two gold  "Best of" albums and a whole series of precious Hungarian awards,  another full house event for 14 000 fans as a preact for DJ Bobo. Our biggest ever audience assembled on the most important Hungarian pop concert in 1997: alongside with No Mercy and other Hungarian artists we played in front of 250 000 people.

   

In 1997 the time came for composing something experimental :  I covered " I could have danced all night", a tune from  "My Fair Lady"  in our own style. The premiere of the song , which took place in a New Years Eve show of the Hungarian TV for 4.500 000 viewers, was accompanied by a giant chorus line. The next single and the video clip was inspired by the Three Musketeers.  A great Hungarian director created a musical based on the Dumas  story containing the songs of Hip Hop Boyz 5 and all the hits. The  Hip Hop Boyz concert-musical became a full house event as a unique show in the Hungarian Pop history.  "Hip Hop Boyz 5." became a platinum album on the release-day.  While touring throughout Hungary,I received several commissions as a producer and arranger. The band's first transatlantic success came in 1997 at the MIDEM Festival in Miami.  My songs were selected for 37 compilations – most of which became gold albums, some of them over 250 000 sold copies. Hip Hop Boyz established a dance school for young talents. Besides training kids, we aimed their mental education as well, highlighting the importance of anti-drug lifestyle.  Being followed as an example by other similar bands was a real achievement for us, in such way providing kids with physical and intellectual education in the early state of their maturing personality. That is why every year we organized a summer camp combining sport, music and dance  classes where all the  fans and visitors were welcome.   This school still operates nationwide and as a band we performed almost every charity events, like collecting and handing over Christmas presents for children living in boarding schools, visiting the Children's Hospital at Christmas and offering the income from an auction of Hip Hop Boyz records, costumes and  relics to the orphanages.  

At the peak of the bands career an unfortunate accident and particular business interests put and end to the most successful Hungarian pop formation of the '90s, the Hip Hop Boyz. A year later, in 1999  I completed my first solo album as a singer, rapper,  songwriter, lyricist, arranger and producer. This material was more adult appealing music with thought-provoking lyrics.  After writing and performing dance hits creating lyrical pop songs was a refreshing experience for me.   I closed my first solo season at the end of summer at Coca Cola Beach House in front of 4000 fans with the best session musicians in the country and performing at Total Dance Festival alongside with the Five. Before finishing my next solo single, a cover of Michel Legrand "Windmills"  I also worked with the Hungarian Radio Symphonic Orchestra and hosted a youth classical concert series.

 

In 2001 my old friend and colleague invited me to New York where I had the chance to work for independent managements. After two weeks of my arrival I was committed to arrange songs for Anastacia in a way getting into the blood circulation of the American music and had an insight into the real American show-biz. I improved my skills in composing and studio technique by taking part in local productions. Not before long I had the chance to compose tracks for Tarkan's new- and first worldwide - album. Four of my songs were accepted by Atlantic Record Company and as we went on with the sessions, I enjoyed more and more the teamwork – as before I always had had to work and make decisions alone. All in all, my 2 years in New York and in the American music business proved extremely exciting and instructive - but I thought I had to move on.

 

After returning home, I launched an album with a great Hungarian jazz singer of a new European style so called "gypsy R&B".  The CD was a huge success on the Hungarian market. After producing a couple of hip hop albums I felt a new voice ringing inside me. I sat down to the piano and I was reborn as the 10-year-old child, the one who used to mock conducting John Williams' compositions. I don't know where the first tune came from and I don't know why – I found myself taking down the tunes. This was the moment when Sentimental was born.  I was sure that I found my own sound and after the constant roaming in the world of music I knew this was what I had to do.  This is what I always dreamed of.

           

With a former classmate I established a chamber orchestra which is capable to create the sound of the modern romanticism.  Finding the proper musicians who could be perfectly identified with my idea took me two years.  Even the first rehearsal proved my anticipations. Composing and arranging for chamber orchestra was a special challenge for me as I always was averse from the flimsy chamber sound.  Now I know that anything is possible with this lineup, even to achieve the impression of a symphonic orchestra. The key factor is cooperating with excellent soloists who constitute the Artofonic Chamber Orchestra. The need living in me all the time – that is skipping unnecessary and incomprehensible parts from a music piece and confining myself to the point – showed me the real and eternal presence of the romanticism.  This was the point when I understood the function of my music: to build a bridge between the elitist classical music and average people. This was the point when I felt I can create a great album.  All the former success and acknowledgement was faded beside the sensation which I felt during the first studio recording sessions. Finally I made MUSIC! I relived the moment after 20 years. It felt fantastic. I found my way home as a musician... 

current project

In live concert performances, Levente wows the crowd by not only performing his original compositions, but by playing well known pieces by romantic composers such as Liszt and also by improvising on famous romantic melodies. He also offers a program which includes Broadway, Jazz, and Pop standards. Levente is currently booking dates in North America, Europe, and Asia.