The music of Zoltan Kodaly pays tribute to his ancestral home of Hungary. The Dances of Galanta were the product of a commission from the Budapest Philharmonic, in honor of its 80th anniversary in 1933. For this work, Kodaly turned to a collection of Hungarian gypsy dances published around 1800 in the style of the verbunkos, a dance of alternating fast and slow sections used by military recruiters in the eighteenth century to entice young men into joining the army.
The Hary Janos Suite is taken from Kodaly's opera of the same name and is based on the fantastic stories woven around the military exploits of Janos, who actually lived in Hungary early in the nineteenth century. Kodaly classified the folk song The Peacock one of the most ancient melodies of the Eastern European tradition. Its nationalistic text, ("Fly peacock fly...to bring freedom to poor prisoners") stirred listeners to such an extent that performances of the Peacock Variations were forbidden by the Nazis during World War II.