• "The characteristics of a good musician are a well-trained ear, a well-trained mind, a well-trained heart and a well-trained hand. All four parts must develop together in constant equilibrium." (Zoltán Kodály)
  • "It is my firm conviction that mankind will live the happier when it has learned to live with music more worthily. Whoever works to promote this end, in one way or another, has not lived in vain." (Zoltán Kodály)
  • "A good folk song is a perfect masterpiece in itself" (Zoltán Kodály)
  • “If one were to attempt to express the essence of this education in one word, it could only be singing” (Zoltán Kodály)
  • "Music is an indispensable part of universal human knowledge. He who lacks it has a faulty knowledge. A man without music is incomplete. It is obvious that music should be a school subject. It is essential!" (Zoltán Kodály)
  • “Teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instil a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime.” (Zoltán Kodály)
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Exceptional honor for Professor Dr. Erzsébet Szőnyi



(Photo: Isolde Weiermüller-Backes)

In 2003 Hungarian entrepreneur and philanthropist Sándor Demján founded an Award called Prima Primissima. His aims were to preserve and reward particular achievements of Hungarian intellectuals and to foster and promote the development of domestic science, art and culture.

The Award is given after a strong competition in which responsible authorities of the Prima Primissima Foundation and of a Social Advisory Board prepare a list of nominees in each of the 10 categories. These categories are: (i) Hungarian literature, (ii) Hungarian theater and film, (iii) Hungarian art, (iv) Hungarian science, (v) Hungarian education and public education, (vi) Hungarian architecture, (vii) Hungarian press, (viii) Hungarian folk art and cultural education, (ix) Hungarian music, (x) Hungarian sport.

By secret ballot the jury decides on the winners per category and one of the Prima Prizes 2011 was for Professor Erzsébet Szőnyi in the category Hungarian Education and Public Education.

Erzsébet (Elisabeth) Szőnyi, composer, choir conductor and pedagogue, was a student of Zoltán Kodály and became one of his most important and long-time collaborators. She studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and the Conservatoire in Paris, among others with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. She was a leading Professor of the Liszt Academy and from 1970 to 1974 Vice-President of the International Society for Music Education. She has also served many years as General Adviser on Methodology for the International Kodály Society. She has been selected as a Member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, is an Honorary Member of the International Kodály Society and has received numerous Prizes. To name just a few: the Erkel Prize (1959), the Hungarian Republic Medal (1993), the Apáczai Csere János Prize (1994), the Bartók-Pásztory Prize (1995), the Excellent Artist Prize (2000)… In 2006, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, awarded her with a Doctor Honoris Causa. She has a number of methodological publications translated in various languages. During her active career she has intensively traveled the 5 continents for Conferences, Workshops, etc.

Erzsébet Szőnyi is also a well-known and successful composer whose compositions are performed all over the globe. For her 80th birthday anniversary Hungaroton released a CD uniquely with her compositions.

Persons wishing to congratulate Professor Szőnyi can send mail to

Prof. Erzsébet Szőnyi
H- 1124 Budapest
Ormódi u. 13 II 9
Hungary