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Hungarian Composer Zoltán Kodály’s Music Education Method Added to UNESCO World Heritage List

Tom Szigeti 2016.12.05.

Speaking to Hungarian news agency MTI, Hungary’s Human Resources Minister, Zoltán Balog, has announced that Hungarian composer and educator Zoltán Kodály’s method for learning and preserving folk culture has made it onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List following the association’s meeting in Addis Ababa. The Kodály method, which stresses the idea that the preservation of musical heritage should start at an early age, was chosen as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Through this recognition, the Kodály method has been added to the list of best practices for preservation of culture, a register that UNESCO reserves for those models of teaching are worthy of use on an international scale, and that provide a good example for countries throughout the world.

Responding to this news, Mr. Balog said that “We trust that this international recognition will contribute to the strengthening and renewal of learning music at school.” He also added that the Kodály system is in use today at every level of musical education, from grade school to university levels.


He also emphasized that there are hundreds of cultural, singing, and dance groups continuing the mission of Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartok. Artistic schools offering education in folk arts are quite popular, while many local, regional, and national folk song contests and folk music camps exist throughout the country. In addition, interest in the Kodály method is growing among educators both in Hungary and around the world.

The Kodály method, also referred to as Kodály concept, is a way of developing musical skills and teaching musical concepts beginning in very young children. The method uses a child-developmental approach to sequence, introducing skills according to the capabilities of the child. The method incorporates rhythm syllables, and also includes the use of rhythmic movement (a technique inspired by the work of Swiss music educator Emilie Jacques Dalcroze), as well as a system of movable-do solfege syllables.

Zoltán Kodály (16 December 1882 Kecskemét – 6 March 1967 Budapest) was one of the most outstanding personalities of 20th century Hungarian culture: a composer, ethnomusicologist, music educator, linguist and philosopher. His internationally acknowledged method of music education is the basis for general music teaching in Hungary, and also plays an important role in the training of professional musicians. Kodály believed that music education should begin at the earliest possible age. Kodály’s concept was to raise music lovers and musically competent people. (Read more about Kodály and his method in our earlier article here).

In recognition of his work as an ethnomusicologist, music educator, and composer, UNESCO has designated 2017 as a special Zoltán Kodály anniversary year.

According to UNESCO,

over the past century, the Kodály concept of safeguarding traditional folk music has helped to promote, transmit and document local practices in Hungary and assisted communities abroad for similar purposes.

The concept has been incorporated in school curricula since 1945.

Other Hungarian customs on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List include the Dance-House (Táncház) system, added in 2011, and the masked carnival festivals of Mohács, added in 2009, among several others. In addition, Hungary is the home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the village of Hollókő, the Wine Region of Tokaj, and many more.

Via MTI and Hungary Matters

Images via hvg.hu and Hajdu Online

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