Mar 06

65. Zoltan Kodaly [365 Composers for 2013]


6th March – Zoltan Kodaly


Kodaly (16th December 1882 – 6th March 1967) is our composer for 6th March, to mark the day of his death.
Nationality: Hungarian
Lifespan: 84 years
Genre: 20th Century
Education: Academy of Music, Budapest
Fame Ranking: 2

Along with Bela Bartok, Kodaly is one of the most loved and most respected composers ever to have come out of Hungary. He initially studied modern languages at university, but became more and more interested in music, which led him to study for his Ph.D at the Budapest Academy of Music. His thesis was an ethno-musicological study of Hungarian folk music. Kodaly then started composing in earnest, incorporating much of the ethnic spirit of Hungarian music into his works.

Kodaly did not find fame instantly but continued to produce a large number of compositions, as well as teaching theory and composition at the Academy. His big break came in 1923 after a performance of his “Psalmus Hungaricus”, a wonderfully patriotic hymn to his motherland which he wrote to commemorate the anniversary of the union of Buda and Pest.

Kodaly is probably best known for his didactic works, however. His principles for teaching children music were widely adopted in Hungary, and their success soon spread across Europe. Known as the “Kodaly Method”, his idea was to create a curriculum for music instruction which matches children’s skills exactly. Children are expected to learn “about” music through movement and sound before they are expected to be able to understand music notation, for example. The method makes use of several specific concepts, for example showing pitch via hand signals and learning notes using a movable-do system. In many countries the note “do” refers to C, and is therefore fixed. In England, a moveable-do system was invented to help singers understand tonal relationships: do is the “tonic” or keynote. Kodaly incorporated many “foreign” techniques into his system – he was very keen on learning about how music instruction happened in different countries so that he could utilise the best methods. The musical examples in the Kodaly method are either taken from folk music, or were composed by Kodaly himself.


Listen to the first part of Kodaly’s “Psalmus Hungaricus”


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Listen to more works by Kodaly – click the box!




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