The term primáš refers to the person who plays prim, i.e.,
first violin in a folk cimbalom band or some other musical group (in a city environment,
for example, in a café band). The primáš was the most important musician, whose
authority came not only from his musical skill but also from the strength of his personality. The group was
often named after him and, in a certain sense, it was understood to be "his". (Sometimes
the leader of the group was understood to be another musician, mainly the cimbalom player.)
Musicians stood at the top of the social scale in Slovak and Hungarian Roma communities, and the
primáš was at the head of this aristocracy. (Members of café bands were held in the
highest esteem of all.)
The importance of the primáš is explained by the fact that his playing reflected
and shaped the individual tradition of the band: its repertoire and mainly its ornamentation and its
The primáš usually came from a musical family. He started to gain his experience
when, as a child, he played in his family's band, and only when he sharpened his own interpretations did
he found his own group.
The primáš was understood to be the representative of the whole band. It was he
who negotiated commissions. It was with him that payment was worked out, and he received a larger share
than the other musicians.
A primáš usually married the daughter of a musician, which strengthened the
musical orientation of the family.
Among the important primáš of south Slovakia from the end of the 18th to the
beginning of the 20th centuries were members of the Rácz, Bihári, Berki and Rinaldi families. In Moravia,
became famous. The Giňa clan emigrated from
east Slovakia to Bohemia (Rokycany). From this clan came, e.g. the primáš Karol
Giňa, while younger members of the family devote themselves to rompop