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Szokolay soon found his métier in vocal and dramatic music. He gained an impressive success with the oratorio A tűz márciusa (‘Fiery March’, 1957-58). In other works a definite inclination towards folk traditions developed. In these compositions, though he did not move far from Hungarian national intonation, he made reference to the ecstatic rhythms and instinctive expression of certain African peoples, so creating an individual style that shows certain affinities with the work of Bartók, Stravinsky and Orff. But all this was only a preparation for a major operatic undertaking, Blood Wedding (1962-64), based on Lorca’s play. While opera also played a major role in Szokolay’s oeuvre later, the intervening years saw the creation, alongside some instrumental compositions, of a number of oratorios and other choral works.
His most important prizes and awards:Erkel Prize (1961, 1965); Kossuth Prize (1966, for his opera Vérnász); Artist of Merit (1976); Outstanding Artist (1986); Bartók-Pásztory Award (1987), Award for the Hungarian Art (1993), Hungarian Heritage Prize (1998); Kodály Prize (1999); Corvin Chain (2001), Artisjus Prize (2011).