The Kodály Center at Holy Names University

In 1868 six women of the religious order Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary arrived to California from Montreal, Canada and founded a teachers college called Holy Names University. The campus today is located high above the San Francisco Bay and has stunning views.

The Catholic university provides a program for music teachers and has become a major center in North America for teaching the Kodály method. In fact Holy Names was the first institution of higher learning to grant an advanced degree in music education using the Kodály method.

Each summer they organize the Kodály Summer Institute. Students come from North America and the Pacific Rim to study with Hungarian master teachers and the local faculty to develop their own musicianship while learning how to teach. A rigorous and practical curriculum with a supportive atmosphere are hallmarks of the program.

This year, after their closing concert the Kodály Center hosted a wonderful garden party to inaugurate the bronze bust of Kodály. The bust was a gift from Judit and Tamás Jackovics on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Center at Holy Names.

Mr. János Horváth, Visiting Associate Professor and Judit and Tamás Jackovics

Hungarian master teachers Ms. Judith Hartyányi and Professor László Norbert Nemes taught courses this year; they both had long affiliations with the Center. Ms. Katalin Vörös chairs the Advisory Board and worked tirelessly to maintain contacts with the local Hungarian American community.

Professor László Norbert Nemes and Ms. Judith Hartyányi

When I was seven years old I met Kodály, we shook hands and spoke briefly. In the 1950s my mother worked as an accountant for the Debrecen-based Kodály Choir and her boss was the legendary choir director, Mr. György Gulyás.

Kodály (right) in Debrecen with György Gulyás (with mustache) in the 1950s

On this occasion we children were lined up to greet the visiting Master. Kodály was friendly and had long hair neatly cut in the back. I have never seen anything like that and was mesmerized by his hairstyle. Much later I learned about his extraordinary contributions to music education.

György Lázár

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