Zoltán Kodály: Serenade

Zoltán Kodály Serenade

Zoltán Kodály: Serenade

op. 12
Year of composition:
Scored for:
for 2 violins and viola
Zoltán Kodály
Instrumentation details:
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Work introduction

Kodály composed this piece for two violins and viola shortly after his String Quartet II, during a time when he was dealing with personal difficulties. Together with Bartók and Dohnányi, he had taken part in the so-called Music Directorship in the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic, for which he was resented after its suppression by the rightist regime of regent Horthy. He wrote only a handful of pieces during those years; after the Serenade, his Psalmus Hungaricus did not follow until 1923.

The Serenade’s path to international renown began in Salzburg in 1922, as part of a chamber-music festival which made musical history through the foundation of the IGNM. It was performed by the Amar-Hindemith Trio, Hindemith playing the viola. The work was discussed in publications including Universal Edition’s Musikblätter des Anbruch.

The Serenade impressed Bartók very much. “This composition,” he wrote, “is a genuine, modern product of Hungarian culture. It is extraordinarily rich in melodies with exotic characteristics influenced by the strong rubato of old peasant music.”

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