Dear Professor Szőnyi,
It is with great excitement and a deep sense of gratitude that we are gathered here today to present this Prix d’Honneur to you.
This award is a recognition of your extraordinary contribution to music in all its many forms both here in Hungary but also on the world stage. It is impossible to measure the impact that you have made but your influence can be seen not only in your own compositional output, but also in your acclaimed teaching, in the exceptional insight that you have in pedagogy and curriculum across all levels of music learning, and in the formation of each new generation of master teachers. Your efforts to nurture and inspire outstanding pedagogues has meant that part of your legacy has been the establishment of highly successful music education programs in schools and universities on a global scale.
Allow me to use an example to illustrate this point. Each year In Australia, we welcome a cohort of talented and dedicated Hungarian teachers. However, we can trace the lineage of these teachers back through their own teachers in a direct line to your initial inspiration. For myself, I was blessed to work with one of Hungary’s finest teachers, Ildikó Herboly-Kocsár. She is an extraordinary educator who is able to cultivate a desire for excellence while providing a framework in which to achieve such excellence. I felt that, through her teaching and wisdom, I established a link with the foundations of the Kodály philosophy and I gained a deep appreciation of the intellectual, musical and human value of the approach. While I was never your student, I believe that your work in forming that next generation of teachers is one of the most important driving forces in the sharing of Kodály’s thoughts around the world.
In these last years I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know you personally. I have been struck but your verve, your love of life, your keen sense of humour and your incisive intellect. And as a result, I have so easily developed such admiration and affection for you. And it is not just me! In any conversation, your name elicits the same response – a deep sense of respect, an acknowledgement of your tremendous input, genuine warmth and sincere affection.
Szőnyi Erzsébet, on behalf of the Board of the International Kodály Society and all its members around the globe, I offer you our sincerest congratulations. It is our absolute pleasure to present this award to you and in so doing, we salute you.
Dr James Cuskelly OAM
International Kodály Society