As someone who has seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind a number of times as a kid, I should probably have had even the slightest glimmer of recognition at the name Zoltán Kodály. I was always a bit puzzled in the film when, in order to communicate the specific music tones, they adopted some peculiar hand signals as another way to convey it. Turns out they are derived from Kodály’s work and now a mini mystery from my film-watching childhood has been solved.
Back when Kodály was born, Slovakia was still part of Austria-Hungary, which helps further explain in my own head how this Hungarian composer ended up spending part of his childhood in the very Slovakian area of Galánta. His piece Dances of Galánta is a classical take on the folk music of this area. It’s a short piece of about 15 minutes with a heavy helping of clarinets and a fast dancing section at the end. Really cool piece and can imagine it being fun to hear a whole orchestra perform it live.