Kodaly, Zoltan

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Hungarian composer and musicologist; b. Kecskemét, Hungary, Dec. 16, 1882; d. Budapest, March 6,1967. From his early years Kodaly acquired musical culture through his parents and from singing in the Catholic cathedral in Nagyszombat (now Trnava, Slovakia), where his father, a railway official, was stationed several years. But Kodaly also began to absorb the folk music of the countryside, and after studies at the University of Budapest and the Academy of Music there, he received his doctorate (1906) by presenting a thesis on Hungarian folk music.

After brief studies in Berlin and Paris, where he was influenced by Debussy, he taught (190741) at the Budapest Academy. With Béla Bartók (18811945), a friend and collaborator, he collected thousands of Hungarian folk songs. Some were published in 1906 and 1921, and they served as the basis of the Corpus Musicae Popularis Hungaricae, begun in 1951. Kodaly also published a scholarly treatment, Folk Music of Hungary, (1937), and made extensive use of Hungarian folk melodies in his own compositions. His varied output included such religious works as Psalmus Hungaricus (1923), a setting for a 16th century poet's version of Psalm 55; Te Deum of Budavar (1936), written for the 250th anniversary of Buda's liberation; and Missa Brevis (1945), which Kodaly conducted at its U.S. premier in 1946.

Kodaly devoted much of his efforts to improving musical education for children, and his theories in this field gained international influence. World War II was a difficult period for Kodaly, but he successfully defied Nazi demands that he divorce his Jewish wife. In the postwar years he held a number of government and cultural posts, and received Hungary's Kossuth Prize in 1952 and 1957. He also made several trips to other countries during those years, lecturing, conducting, and attending international conferences.

Bibliography: l. eosze, Zoltan Kodaly (London 1962), tr. i. farkas and g. gulyas. f. bÓnis, "Beobachtungen zum schaffensprozess in Kodálys Psalmus Hungaricus, " Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 75 (1991) 93105. j. breuer, A Guide to Kodály tr. m. steiner (Budapest 1990). k. dommett, "Zoltán Kodály," in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 694696; "Háry János " in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 584585. l. eÖsze, "Zoltán Kodály," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 10 (New York 1980) 136145. i. kecskemÉti, Kodály, the Composer: Brief Studies on the First Half of Kodály's Oeuvre (Kecskemét 1986).

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