From the Office in Budapest

Dear IKS Members and Friends of the International Kodály Society,

Warm greetings from Hungary! First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Board and the members who have given me the opportunity to serve the IKS in a new way. It is an honour and a duty that I hope to fulfil to the best of my ability. One of my personal missions is to make the IKS more visible to Hungarians as well, as we probably have a lot to learn from the international community. Commitment, appreciation certainly, and perhaps also a sense of responsibility to nurture and keep Kodály's legacy alive. During this past month, I was invited to the local radio and then the television to talk about the Society, and also had the opportunity to give a presentation about us members of the IKS at a music education conference in Debrecen.

In early February, President Jerry L. Jaccard, Vice-President Susanna Saw, Executive Secretary Krisztina Molnár-Litvai, and I had a meeting at the Kodály Museum in Budapest with Judit Rajk and Laura Kéri from the Kodály Institute of Kecskemét and Márta Sárosi who represented the Hungarian Kodály Society to begin planning the 2025 International Kodály Symposium. It will be the 50th anniversary of the IKS as an organisation, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Kodály Institute, and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Liszt Academy of Music. 2025 will also be the 100th anniversary of Kodály’s first works for children’s choirs, which initiated the reform movement in Hungarian music education and musical life. Katalin Forrai's centenary will be in 2026, so that is also being taken into consideration for the symposium since so many of us she mentored will be gathered in Hungary.

Milestones like these always bring the opportunity not only to look back but also to look ahead to where we want to take the Society—what I like refer to as the international Kodály community of musicians sharing a professional vision as well as personal connections. What are our basic principles, what is our mission, and what are our challenges?

As most of you know, I wrote my PhD dissertation on the history of the IKS. Its structure was based on our mission statement:

"The aims of the International Kodály Society shall be the [Part 1] world-wide propagation of the musical, educational and cultural concepts associated with Zoltán Kodály for the benefit of music generally, and in particular for the educational advancement of children and youth. The Society shall serve as an [Part 2] international forum for all who are active in the [Part 3] spirit of the Hungarian master as composer, scholar and educator.”

Part 3 explored the discourse on the interpretation of Kodály's concept in the Bulletin between 1976–2020, in order to give meaning to the work done "in the spirit of the Hungarian master [...]". I aimed to answer two overall questions: Based on the writings, what are IKS member author’s interpretations of the Kodály Concept? How do they try to update and re-interpret the Kodály concept according to the social and professional expectations of the time?

My conclusion based on the writings was that for his dedicated followers, the primary appeal of Kodály's pedagogy is the ethos attached to it. One of the greatest challenges and tasks facing the IKS is to preserve and transmit this ethos to a generation growing up in a value-relativist and uncertain age, who are no longer under the personal influence of Kodály and his direct disciples. It is also an opportunity to create a Kodály image without myth-making, to assess the advantages and potential drawbacks of the concept and its practical application, to critique it constructively, and to develop its practical aspects further.

With this starting statement or hypothesis, I would like to invite members to join the discussion, to express their viewpoints and to find common solutions. Sociologist Rudolf Stichweh's (1992) observation about scientific disciplines also applies to professional communities like ours, communities whose existence depends on sustained communication: "[T]he withering away of a discipline (and a professional community) is not the refutation of the results it produces, but the loss of communication – the way of transmitting knowledge and values and a source of innovation necessary for its continuous renewal."1 We need all of these for Kodály’s philosophy to remain relevant to our turbulent era, with its core principles intact.

Dr. Zsuzsanna Polyák
Vice President 


1Summarized from Stichweh, R. (1992). The sociology of scientific disciplines: On the genesis and stability of the disciplinary structure of modern science. Science in Context, 5(1), 3–15.