Kodály's debut as a composer came in October 1906 with a successful performance of his orchestral poem Summer Evening (Nyári este) at the Academy of Music. Two months later Kodály left Hungary for the first time, having received funding from the Academy for a period of study in Berlin and Paris. Upon his return in 1907 he was appointed to the faculty of the Academy, eventually succeeding his teacher Koessler as professor of composition (and becoming Dohnányi's assistant when the latter was appointed director of the Academy in 1919). With the creation of the New Hungarian Music Society in 1911, Kodály firmly established himself alongside Bartók and Dohnányi as a powerful force in Hungary's developing musical culture.
Kodály produced a steady stream of music (his most famous works being the opera Háry János from 1927 and the orchestral suite from that opera) and important educational works (which have collectively become known to music educators as the Kodály method, and rank in significance alongside similar contributions by Orff and Dalcroze) until his death in 1967. In later years he made frequent concert tours during which he appeared as a conductor of his own music, though he never abandoned what he himself considered to be his primary work: the collection and systematization of Hungarian folk music and culture, and a corresponding assimilation of that body of work into a new Hungarian artistic aesthetic (a goal also shared by his friend Bartók). In the years after the Second World War he was honored by countless academic, musical, and political organizations around the globe; in 1961 he served as president of the International Folk Music Council, and, in 1964, as honorary president of the International Society of Music Educators.