Zoltan Kodaly : Ocho canciones folkloricasViena, Sofiensaal,Viena, 1966 (Audio)
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Zoltan Kodaly, Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and educationist, was a prominent figure in the Hungarian musical world from the early 20th century. Kodaly and Bartok pioneered the integration of folk music. He is known for his opera Háry János and cantata Psalmus Hungaricus.
Together with Bela Bartok, his compatriot, fellow composer and friend, they elevated the international profile of Hungarian music through folk songs and dances. Unlike his collaborator and friend Bartok who turned his vision into new musical language, Kodaly stayed in touch with the folk people.
Zoltan Kodaly (16 Dec 1882 – 6 March 1967) was born in Kecskemet, Hungary, a son of a stationmaster. His mother was an amateur musician. Brought up in the country, Kodaly knew folk music.
From childhood, he self-taught to play the piano, cello, violin and viola from childhood. Later, he learned to play the piano and string instruments, then to compose, all with little tuition.
He married composer and pianist Emma Sandor.
At the turn of the 20th-century, he went to Budapest to study with Koessler at the Academy of Music, and in 1905 he began his collaboration with Bartok. They recorded and transcribed Magyar folk music, the scales and rhythm of which they incorporated in a deliberately nationalist Hungarian style.
Kodaly was a tireless teacher, conductor especially of choirs, founder of schools and organizer of festivals. He also championed music among statesmen and politicians.
Zoltan Kodaly's major works
Cantata Psalmus Hungaricus (1923, composed for the 50th anniversary of the union of Pest, Buda and Obuda)
Opera Buffa Háry János (1925-27), with the popular Háry János suite considered his most famous work, which is named after a Hungarian folk character.
Dances of Galanta for orchestra (1933)
Variations on a Hungarian Folksong 'The Peacock' (1939)
Concerto for Orchestra (1939-40).
Awards and Honours
Kodaly was awarded the Order of Merit by the Hungarian government in 1942. His public reputation was sometimes overshadowed by clashes with the authorities. Two years after his award, he was arrested by the Gestapo for resistance work but released due to his popularity.
After Franz Liszt, Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok were considered the most prominent Hungarian composers and ethnomusicologists of the 20th-century. Although Kodaly's later musical works were less advanced that Bartok's or other contemporary composers, it was not considered conservative either. He primarily stayed with the common people and regarded singing more rather than instrumental performance. He composed numerous choruses based on folk music that he included in choral repertoires.
The ‘Kodaly Method’ of school music education developed in the mid-20th century Hungary was widely practised, leading to vast improvements in musical instructions throughout the world. The method itself was not created by Kodaly, but his educational philosophies served as an inspiration to his associates who developed the system.