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Kodály, Zoltán

Kodály, Zoltán (b Kecskemét, 1882; d Budapest, 1967). Hung. composer and teacher. He was born and had his early education in Galánta. His father, a state railways employee, played the vn., his mother the pf., and he grew up in a mus. atmosphere. He attended the Nagyszombat Gymnasium 1892–1900, during which period his first orch. work was played by the school orch. In 1900 he entered Budapest Univ. and the Franz Liszt Acad. of Mus., where his teacher was Hans (János) Koessler, who also taught Bartók and Dohnányi. He met Bartók after his graduation, in 1905, and embarked on his first foray as a folk-song collector in Galánta. In 1906 his symphonic poem, Summer Evening, had its f.p. Kodály continued his folk-song collecting between 1907 and 1914. Although he was insistent on folk mus. as a basis of nat. culture, he had a wider view of the mus. scene and travelled to Bayreuth, Salzburg, Berlin, and Paris. He taught theory at the Liszt Acad. in 1907, and took over the comp. classes from Koessler in 1908 (prof. from 1911). From that time, too, he was closely involved with the mus. curriculum in Hung. schs., and with Bartók he formed an organization for the perf. of contemporary mus. Alongside these activities he produced a steady flow of comps.

In 1923, for the 50th anniversary of the unification of Buda and Pest as the capital, he comp. Psalmus Hungaricus, which was soon perf. throughout Europe and America under leading conds. such as Toscanini, Mengelberg, and Furtwängler.

In 1926 he completed his opera Háry János, firmly rooted in folklore. Another opera, The Spinning Room, followed in 1932, and the orch. Dances of Galánta in 1933. In the same year Kodály and Bartók were requested by the Hung. Acad. of Sciences to prepare for publication all available folk mus. material. After Bartók went to the USA, Kodály took over sole editorial control. The first vol. appeared in 1951. Two important commissions were for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch.'s 50th anniv., 1939 (Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song, The Peacock) and the 50th anniv. of the Chicago SO, 1941 (Concerto for Orchestra). These were in contrast to the dozens of works for children's vv. which occupied him for the last 30 years of his life. He retired from the Liszt Acad. in 1942. After World War II he travelled to Fr., Eng., the USA, and USSR to cond. his own works. A 3rd opera, Czinka Panna, was prod. in 1948. His sym., in memory of Toscanini, was prod. at Lucerne in 1961. He visited the USA again in 1965 and 1966.

Kodály's mus. is not as advanced in its harmonic idiom as Bartók's and is less cosmopolitan. But it has the merits of complete conviction, finished craftsmanship, and melodic inspiration. Prin. works are:OPERAS: Háry János (1925–6); The Spinning Room (1924–32); Czinka Panna (1946–8).ORCH.: Summer Evening (1906, rev. 1929–30); Suite, Háry János (1927); Dances of Marosszék (1930, arr. of work for pf. 1927); Dances of Galánta (1933); Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song, The Peacock (1938–9); Concerto for Orchestra (1939–40); sym. (1930s–61).CHORUS & ORCH.: Psalmus Hungaricus, ten., ch., and orch. (1923); Te Deum of Budavár (1936); Missa brevis (1944); At the Grave of the Martyr (1945); The Music Makers, vv., orch. (1964).CHORUS AND ORGAN, PIANO, etc: Pange lingua (1929); Hymn to King St Stephen (1938); Laudes Organi (1966).UNACC. CHORAL: Evening (1904); Birthday Greeting (1931); Jesus and the Traders (1934); Ode to Ferenc Liszt (1936); Molnár Anna (1936); The Peacock (1937); Forgotten Song of Bálint Balassi (1942); Lament (1947); Hymn of Zrinyi (1954); Mohács (1965).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qts., No.1 (1908–09), No.2 (1916–18); sonata for vc. and pf. (1909–10); Duo, vn., vc. (1914); Solo vc. sonata (1915); Capriccio, solo vc. (1915); Serenade, 2 vn. and va. (1919–20).

Also many folk-song arrs., children's chs., singing exercises, and transcrs. (Bach, etc.).

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"Kodály, Zoltán." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Kodály, Zoltán." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kodaly-zoltan

Zoltán Kodály

Zoltán Kodály

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was a Hungarian composer, collector of folk songs, and music educator. He developed a technique for teaching young children to read music through folk material.

Zoltán Kodály was born in Kecskemét, where his father was a railroad stationmaster. When Kodály was 18, he enrolled at both the Budapest Conservatory and University. Béla Bartók was a classmate, and the two students became interested in Hungarian folk music. This interest was part of a larger movement in Hungary at the time, the desire to discover the country's true culture, which had been under German domination for over 100 years.

Kodály and Bartók knew that what was thought to be Hungarian folk music was actually gypsy music, a kind of commercial popular music played by gypsies in cafes and theaters. About 1905 they started to collect folk songs systematically by going to rural areas and recording the music on their crude phonograph. Their fieldtrips broadened to include other central European countries, and by 1913 they had collected over 3,000 folk songs. This collection, and their transcriptions and analyses, was important in establishing the techniques of ethnomusicology, which was to become an important 20th-century discipline.

Kodály's interest in folk songs continued throughout his life, but his main activity in the period between World War I and II was composing and serving as teacher at, and later director of, the Budapest Conservatory. His first composition to achieve world fame was Psalmus Hungaricus (1923), a large choral and instrumental work, commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the joining of Buda and Pest. It is based on Hungarian melodies, but the setting is completely of the 20th century. His music has certain resemblances to Bartók's, but it is never as violent in its use of dissonance.

Another important composition by Kodály is Hary Janos (1932), a folk-based opera. He also composed an orchestral suite based on this opera, other orchestral and chamber works, and large and small choral works.

Throughout his life Kodály was interested in bringing music to the people, and he was active in reforming the way in which music was taught in Hungarian schools. He introduced a method of teaching sightsinging to young children based on folk songs, using a combination of syllables (do re mi) with hand gestures. The approach was highly successful, and the "Kodály method" became known outside Hungary after World War II and was used in some schools in England and the United States, where Kodály "workshops" were established to instruct teachers.

Kodály's last years were a series of triumphs for the octogenarian. He was treated as a national hero in his own country, and he received the highest honors when he traveled abroad, not only for his compositions but for his philosophy that music should play an important role in every child's life.

Further Reading

Percy M. Young, Zoltán Kodály: A Hungarian Musician (1964), is a sympathetic study of the life and works of the composer by an English musician who introduced Kodály's teaching ideas into England. Lászlio Eösze, Zoltán Kodály: His Life and Work (1956; trans. 1962), stresses the ethnomusicological achievements as well as the compositions and has good illustrations.

Additional Sources

Young, Percy M. (Percy Marshall), Zoltán Kodá ly: a Hungarian musician, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976, 1964. □

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Kodály, Zoltán

Zoltán Kodály (zôl´tän kô´dī), 1882–1967, Hungarian composer and collector of folk music. In 1906 he began to teach at the Budapest Hochschule, of which he became assistant director in 1919. He lectured (1930–33) at the Univ. of Budapest. Kodály did much to raise the standards of music education in Hungary. With Bartók he collected thousands of Hungarian folk songs and dances, and the influence of this interest is strong in his compositions, which have a romantic style. Among his best-known works are the opera Háry János (1926, orchestral suite 1927), the Psalmus Hungaricus (1923) and Missa Brevis (1945) for chorus and orchestra, and orchestral dances.

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"Kodály, Zoltán." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Kodály, Zoltán

Kodály, Zoltán (1882–1967) Hungarian composer. With Bartók he collected and systematized Hungarian folk music, which was the principal influence on his work. Among his best-known compositions are the Psalmus Hungaricus (1923), and the comic opera Háry János (1927).

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