László Kistamás

From Unearthing The Music

László Kistamás in 1979. Photo by: Péter Várkonyi/

László Kistamás (1958–) is a musician, composer, performer, singer. He was one of the founding members of Kontroll Csoport (Control Group) and Balkan (Fu)Tourist.


Kistamás had his first artistic experiences at theatres after joining a little amateur company in Budapest after high school. In the 1970s, individual and alternative theaters had almost no chance to get permission for performances, but Kistamás soon realized it was much harder to control music groups than theatre ones. It was also there where he met Ágnes Bárdos Deák and Csaba Hajnoczy, with whom he founded his first band, Kontroll Csoport (Control Group), where he was the song-writer, as well as a singer and musician. In 1980 Árpád Hajnóczy and Norbert Iványi joined them and their first concert was held at a New Year’s Eve house party at avant-garde painter and musician András Wahorn's home and the band went on to perform further live concerts during the following year. Meanwhile, they were active members of the counter-culture scene, frequently participating in happenings throughout Hungary. Thanks to their increasing popularity they became essential figures of the Hungarian underground culture, despite the fact that the Kontroll Csoport disbanded in the mid-’80s.

Kontroll Csoport's members continued their music activity in other groups, and Kistamás became the founder and leader of the band Balkán (Fu)Tourist in 1985. Meanwhile, he revived his connection to the theatre after becoming a member of the “Monteverdi Birkózókör” (András Jeles’s famous experimental troupe) and had some film roles (The Outsider, Ex-Kódex).

László Kistamás and Ágnes deák Bárdos with the Kontroll Csoport band in 1981. Photo by: Tamás Urbán/

The “Fekete lyuk” (Black Hole) club, the epicentre' of the underground music life of Budapest played a determinant role in Kistamás’s life. He was one of the founders and organizers of the club and the Balkán (Fu)Tourist group made one of its first concerts here, as well. Furthermore, he took part in organizing the Nap-Nap Fesztivál (1990-1992), considered a predecessor of the Sziget Fesztivál, the biggest and most internationally famous music festival in Hungary.

After the political transition, Kistamás gave up his career as a musician, except for several Kontroll memorial concerts, one of which was in 2009 in New York. However, he remained active on the stage and participated in numerous performance and creative cultural initiatives. He considers himself an everlasting restarter who reacts through artistic tools to the changes of the world.

Relationship with the state

The Hungarian authorities considered amateur music bands to be less dangerous than professional ones, although some of them, such as Kistamás’groups, had a great impact on the music scene not only in Hungary but abroad as well. Their relation to the party-state was ambivalent, much like other bands or figures of the not-official cultural life in Hungary. They were often not allowed to play under their name. However, they could use a community center to rehearse, and their audience distributed their cassettes underground. To sum up, they were always between the tolerated and prohibited sphere.

László Kistamás in Paris.


With Kontroll Csoport

  • 1991 - 1991
  • 1993 - Ős-Kontroll - Archív (A Kontroll Csoport 1981. Januárjában)
  • 1993 - 1983
  • 1997 - Élő Felvételek

With Balkan (Fu)Tourist

  • 1987 - A Szaturnusz Gyűrűje
  • 1988 - Ding Deng Dong ‎


  • 1981 - Szabadgyalog (The Outsider)
  • 1983 - Ex-kódex
  • 1990 - The Last Boat - City Life (Short)
  • 1990 - Meteo
  • 2020 - Eden