Lifetime Achievement Award for Lilla Gábor

The OAKE Lifetime Achievement Award is given to the rare person whose impact upon Kodály music education transcends that of what might be considered an outstanding educator, administrator, or researcher. In 2022 this award was given to Hungarian master teacher, Lilla Gábor, presented by OAKE President Donna Menhart.

(Photo by Melanie Braddy)

For over 40 years, Lilla Gábor has returned to the US, “summer after summer, year after year,” and in doing so, strengthened regional Kodály programs through her presence at American summer courses. She has been a faculty member at courses in Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arizona, Texas, and Ohio, spanning a time frame of 1978-2020. Her many abilities have enabled her to teach conducting, musicianship, methodology, materials, and choir for training programs. Additional past positions have included: Professor at the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary for over 10 years, Co-Director of the International House of Budapest-Music Department, Co-Director of Vigadó-Redoute International Music Courses, Professor at the Kodály Center of America, Professor at Universitat Duisburg, Founder and Director of the International Summer Academy of Choral Conducting and Music Pedagogy in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Guest Professor, Conductor and researcher at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, and Music Director of the project entitled “Canta Sao Paulo”, among many others.

Lilla has also been labeled the mastermind behind organizing pedagogical trips to Hungary so that American teachers could observe classes taught by Hungarian teachers. Since 2005, teachers have been traveling to Hungary for weeks at a time and benefiting from Lilla’s hospitality and brilliance in connecting Americans to these important experiences.

Regarding research, Lilla is currently working on a project regarding the writings and speeches of Zoltán Kodály and filming Hungarian teaching examples of the Kodály philosophy. This project entitled, “Kodály’s Principles in the Perspective of the 21st Century Based on Zoltán Kodály’s Writings and Speeches", was published on the Kodály hub this past summer and is used in programs across the country.

Her nomination letters beautifully summarize Lilla’s contributions:

“Her extensive, far-reaching impact for over forty years, in the areas of education, performance, research, and administration, has indeed influenced and left an indelible mark upon the state of American Kodály music education.”

“She has touched thousands of American teachers and students with her work. She is certainly one of those rare persons whose impact upon Kodály music education transcends that of what might be considered an outstanding educator and researcher. Ms. Gábor is a missionary of the true ideals of the Kodály Philosophy of music education.”

And finally… “Lilla Gábor’s committed vision for Kodály inspired music education in our country, with the empowering of hundreds, perhaps thousands of American music teachers, is unparalleled.”  

Donna Menhart