Commemorative words of Bence Vas
President of the Hungarian Kodály Society
Dear All who came here to remember Zoltán Kodály!
I stand here at his grave deeply moved, because there are still many people who knew him personally, more dedicated representatives of the mission he left to us, and I only became the President of the Hungarian Kodály Society owing to a peculiar turn of fate.
Please allow me, as an unworthy successor of your great predecessors yet being in this position, to share one single thought with you.
1967 was a long time ago, and 1882 even much earlier. Since then, countless things have happened around us and we all have changed a lot. The Cold War, the Vietnam War (1965-73), the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, and the many changes in the thirty years that followed, the various economic crises, the relative improvement of the last ten years, the problems of the EU, the rise of the consumer society, the debate between nation-states and globalism, the loss of our former values, the emergence of advantages and disadvantages of the Internet – so many changes since 1967.
Let us ask – can we even ask the question, what would Zoltán Kodály say about all this? After all, we have a mission! After all, we are trying to follow the path that He walked! If he were to walk here among us, would he really not find his way in today's world? Have humans really changed, would they be dominated by other people, would they be controlled by other elemental impulses than 50-60 years ago? During his life, would the war of ideologies, money, power, pride, jealousy, and vanity have not been seen in action in people? Having lived through two world wars, would he be shocked by the Russian-Ukrainian war? (By the special military operations?) And would the physical and mental abilities of our children be different?
I think we would have to say no. Some of the scenery has changed, some of it even hasn't. We have similar weaknesses and virtues, our children's visceral talents and instincts have not changed either. We long for acceptance, for love, to be at home somewhere in the world, but at the same time we are selfish, envious, jealous, greedy, narrow-minded. Maybe one thing has changed. At the social level and in the majority of our fellow human beings, the desire to strive for the better has been lost or is in the process of being lost! Building and exploiting our potential, overcoming our human weaknesses. Taming the evil within ourselves and around us.
The reason for this is mostly the relativization of the concepts of good and bad. It is increasingly difficult to determine what is good and what is bad, what a person should and should not do. Just as it is no longer a shame not to know something. The thoughts "the luxury of the lack of education" and "the best is just good enough" are increasingly losing their driving and motivating power.
And let us ask ourselves: What would Zoltán Kodály do now?
Probably the same. With endless perseverance, he would strive to make people and Hungarians better through music.
The role of music in personality development, community building, and the formation and strengthening of spiritual immunity is invaluable and irreplaceable. "Life is not complete without music"!
Dear attendees, I invite and encourage everyone to continue this work. Although the scenery has changed a lot around our children (what hasn't they are not seeing yet), so we have to help them with new methods and new scenery, but the point is: the content, the message is the same!
However, this work is not only for our young people, but also for our more experienced fellow fighters! When Kodály retired from the Academy of Music, he became the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and was active in the service of the cause for a long time after that. Despite his advanced age he travelled to America two years before his death, and in 1966 to Canada and then again to the United States for a lecture tour.
So I encourage everyone to shake themselves and shake our children out of this silly dream and make our country and the world better by following in the footsteps of Zoltán Kodály!
Thank you for your respectful attention!
Prof. Dr. Bence Vas
President of the Hungarian Kodály Society