Monday, 19 April 2010

Szekély Ferencné (Ilí)

Mass tomorrow in Budapest

Ilí Szekély died on 31 March, aged 86 years, following a long illness. Long before there were any conductors she had been the first of András Pető's 'handling ladies'. Times then were very hard in Hungary after the War. Here is how she later told of her first encounters with András Pető –

It was 1948. My husband worked for the Institute [of Special Education], he was the odd-job man there: he heated the building, took the laundry to the launderette, reglazed the windows, and tidied the garden and so on.
We didn't have a flat; I stayed in the garden of the Institute with my baby daughter*. Pető told my husband to bring his family inside and they would make a flat for us there. My husband carried the coal out of the cellar and made room for us there. Ildí my daughter, was ill...
[Over that Christmas] Bárczi**  touched my daughter and realised that she had a fever. Bárczi – I have respect even for his memory – stated that it was otitis and talked to Pető (I only learned about this later), and they got penicillin for my daughter, which was an almost non-existent treasure at that time. My daughter recovered very well after that.
A few days later I met Pető and he told me to take my daughter out into the fresh air every day. Ildí couldn't yet walk, she was only ten months old. Before that I had seen Pető every day, I always greeted him but he never said Hello. But then one day Pető was walking there and I greeted him, and he stopped and asked: 'Do you have no other work than this one child?'
'No, I don't Doctor Pető, ' I said.
'Well then, come in to me, I'll give you work.'
'But where am I going to put my baby?'
'Bring her in,' he said,' or solve it however you can'.
(as retold by Judit Farrai, p. 93)

Ilóna Szekély stayed on. In 1968 she was with Pető when he died (ibid., p. 96). In the early seventies she contributed to the 'scientific studies' publications (mentioned earlier this month on Conductive World and Conductive Education Information). She did not train formally as a conductor (as her daughter did) but was made an 'Honorary Conductor' when she retired.

It has been announced today on the Pető Institute's website that there will be a Mass tomorrow evening, followed by a further service at the cemetery the next day.

Further details:


*    Mrs Ildikó Kozma, later Director of the Pető Institute and now Secretary-General of the International Pető Association

**   Gusztáv Bárczi, otolaryngologist and deaf-educator, then principal of the Institute of Special Education


Forrai, J. (1999) Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranjhid, and Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education

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