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Humanities in the Harbor: "The Songs We Hide"

Humanities in the Harbor, a monthly lecture series that explores unique and engaging topics for the Gig Harbor community, will continue in July as author Connie Hampton Connally visits Harbor History Museum to discuss her debut novel inspired by the music and turbulent history of twentieth-century Hungary.

Connally's interest in Hungary's turbulent past grew out of her love of music. Through music she discovered the story of Zoltán Kodály, a twentieth-century Hungarian composer who spread music in his nation despite totalitarianism and two world wars. Connally began researching Hungary, and the tense national narrative coupled with the poignant stories of its people led her to write The Songs We Hide.

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On Thursday, July 19th, we invite you to join Connally as she discusses her research and the reasons she came to choose this topic for her novel. From an overview of the historical situation and the tension this brought to bear on ordinary citizens to interspersed excerpts from her novel, Connally will give the audience a sense for the dilemmas that the people in Hungary (and other Soviet bloc countries) were going through at this time. She will share some of the stories of the Hungarians she interviewed, many of whom are now living in the Puget Sound region.


...In 1951, a grim hush has settled over Hungary. After a lost war and a brutal transition to communism, Hungarians live under constant threat of blacklisting, property confiscation, arrest, imprisonment and worse. In this milieu of dread, the best land of Péter Benedek’s peasant family is seized and his life upended. Moving to Budapest for a manual labor job, Péter meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has vanished, most likely at the hands of the secret police. Both Péter and Katalin keep their heads down and their mouths clamped shut, because silence is the only safety they know.

The two have something in common besides fear: they are singers whose very natures make the silence unbearable. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, they take an intrepid step out of hiding. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. In their bond of trust, they find relief and unexpected happiness.

Yet the hurts and threats in their lives remain, waiting. As harsh reality assaults them again, is hope even possible? Facing their hardest trials yet, Péter and Katalin learn to carve dignity and beauty out of pain.


Humanities in the Harbor is held at Harbor History Museum, 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, WA 98332. 

Admission is FREE for Harbor History Museum members and $5 for Non-Members. 

Tickets can be purchased online on the Museum's Buy Tickets page or by calling 253-858-6722; tickets may also be purchased at the door. 

Questions and inquiries may be directed to Zachary Sokolik, Marketing & Events Coordinator at Harbor History Museum at