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Composer (MIDI)

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967); HUN

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Zoltán Kodály

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.).

Copyright © 1996 Oxford University Press - By permission of Oxford University Press

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