A musical legacy from Hungary to Canada

Statue of Zoltán Kodály at Szent István Square in Pécs, Hungary

The estate of two Hungarian Canadian musicians has bequeathed quarter of a million Canadian dollars to a music educational trust named after their former mentor, composer Zoltán Kodály.

Klara and Oscar Bookbinder emigrated to Canada following the Hungarian revolution in 1957. Klara had been taught by Kodály as she studied for her master’s degree in Piano Methodology and Oscar worked under him as a research fellow with the Institute for Musicology at the Hungarian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

On arrival in Canada, Oscar Bookbinder studied engineering and built a consultancy business but both continued teaching music. Klara’s approach to teaching drew upon Kodály’s methods and she published numerous books of compositions by her and her students.

Klara died in 2017 and when Oscar passed away in July 2019, their estate made the substantial bequest in honour of the Bookbinders’ commitment to music education and their association with Zoltán Kodály.

The Kodály Society of Canada is humbled and honoured to be part of the Bookbinder’s legacy in Canada,’ said KSC president Dr Jody Stark, explaining that the Bookbinder gift will be used to support music education in Canadian schools and communities in a variety of ways.

Stark adds, ‘The impact of this gift from the Bookbinder Estate is enormous for music education in Canada. We anticipate being able enact several initiatives that will have a direct benefit to music educators and students across the country.’

A portion of the gift will also go to the Kodály Society of Ontario (KSO) to help fund a music teacher professional learning project across the province.

‘We plan to offer workshops for early childhood, kindergarten and primary music educators in as many Ontario regions as possible over the next five years,’ explains KSO president Dr Kim Eyre.

‘We want to honour Mrs Bookbinder’s commitment to early childhood music education in an impactful way and support teachers to bring music into their classrooms at a critical stage of children’s development.’

The KSC is already planning series of free online workshops for music teachers throughout the coming school year in response to increasing awareness of systemic racism and to support music teachers during the time of COVID. Workshop details can be found on the KSC website.

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