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Zoltán Kodály:
The Story of Hary Janos

Kodály’s opera Háry János is about a real person who told real whoppers — big, fat lies. If you listened to him, you'd think he defeated Napoleon's army all by himself.

Music heard in this episode:
Kodály: Prelude
Kodály: Viennese Musical Clock
Kodály: Song
Kodály: The Battle and Defeat of Napoleon
Kodály: Intermezzo
Kodály: Entrance of the Emperor and his Court

Other shows about Zoltán Kodály:
About Zoltán Kodály
Classical Composers who Used Folk Music
The Kodaly Method

Download this month's activity sheet

About Zoltán Kodály
12/16/1882 - 3/6/1967
Born in Hungary

Zoltán Kodály was born in Kecskemét, Hungary. Because his father worked with the Hungarian Railway System, the family was transferred a lot. As a result, Zoltán learned about music from all different parts of his country as he moved around. That was the beginning of his life-long interest in folk music.

Both of Zoltán's parents were amateur musicians, so there was also music in the house. As a boy, Zoltán learned to play the violin, piano, viola and cello. He performed in his school orchestra and at home with his parents.

As an adult, Kodály continued traveling around Hungary, collecting and studying Hungarian folk music. Much of the music he composed was based on folk songs he collected on his travels. And he also for created a new way to teach music to kids. His system became known as Kodály Method, and it's still used today by teachers around the world.

Kodály's most popular work is the suite from his opera Háry János. Háry János was a real man who liked to sit around at the village inn telling tall tales about his youth. One of those tales had him defeating Napoleon's army all by himself. The "Viennese Musical Clock" describes the mechanical clock Háry János claimed to have heard at the Austrian emperor's palace.

See other composers born in Hungary


This Week's Quiz:

1. According to Hungarian superstition, if you sneeze while you're telling a story

it must be true

it must be false

2.The clock in Hary Janos is





3. The twangy instrument that you hear in Hary Janos is a






Zoltán Kodály
“Viennese Musical Clock” from Hary Janos

Composed in 1926
Performed by Hungarian State Orchestra
Mátyás Antal, conductor

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