László Lajtha

László Lajtha




The most significant composer ethnomusicologist and music pedagogue alongside Bartók and Kodály in the first half of the 20th century. He was also active as a pianist, conductor, church musician, music historian, publisher of educational works in the field of music, honorary representative of international organisations of ethnology, an organiser in Hungary and over the borders. As a composer he embraced the world of French impressionism as well as Hungarian and Eastern European music. As Bartók’s closest colleague he made a profound influence on Hungarian folk music research. The premieres of his works were held for the most part outside of Hungary, and he enjoyed much international acclaim. His works were published by the reputable French Leduc. He was elected first Hungarian full member of the French Academy in 1955. At the same time in Hungary he was suppressed for political reasons, and only in the years before his death did his persecution begin to abate.


“Lajtha is one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century” (Maurice Fleuret)



1892, 30 June

Born in Budapest into a wealthy industrialist family



Attended preliminary piano course at the Music Academy in Budapest under Árpád Szendy and probably Béla Bartók.



Began composition studies under Viktor Herzfeld and Zoltán Kodály .



Goes on trip to Leipzig to study Bach’s style.



1910–11studies in Geneva with the pianist Bernard Stavenhagen (1862–1914), a pupil of Liszt’s.

Following Bartók’s example he takes interest in folk music and sets off on his first collecting trips to Transylvania.



Encouraged by Bartók, in 1911–13 he studies in Paris the Schola Cantorum with at Vincent d’Indy who introduces him to the Parisian music scene. Lajtha studies César Franck, the Renaissance and Baroque masters, and later Debussy and Ravel.


Setting out from the proximity of Bartók, folk music and the Parisian school constituted the narrow path on which I set off and which was interrupted by the First World War.” (Autobiographical letter to his sons, c. 1952)





1913    Works

Graduates from the Music Academy

1913–1947 member of the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography.

First work published by Rózsavölgyi (Des écrits d’un misicien).

Member of the Hungarian Society of Ethnography, board member from 1938.


1914-1918      Works

Voluntary artillery officer in World War I, wounded several times.

Secret correspondence with his fiancée, Róza Hollós. He asks for books and keeps up his musical studies


Can I recommend you books? Look, this is no easy matter. […] But if you wish… I’ve just finished reading Dostoevsky’s “Raw Youth.” I’d wish you could get to know my sacred novelist. His “Idiot” was the most profound artistic revelation. You must read that as son as you can. The most intense, holy and beautiful work ever written – a splendid human bible. Chiefly these, then. Perhaps Maurice Maeterlinck? Three volumes of stage works, “Pelléas and Mélisande” being most typical of all. Gogol: “The Cloak.” Perhaps also Dickens. I like him. Best read is “Dombey” (an excellent Hungarian translation is available). Novels, if you’re interested, Strindberg. Worthy reading matter, published by Georg Müller in Munich, if I remember rightly. If you’re seeking food for thought, I’d like you to read György Lukács’s “Soul and Form.” For poems, Stefan George’s “Jahr der Seele” might be a choice. That’s all for now. And Nietzsche: chiefly his writings against Wagner. “Nietzsche contra Wagner” is particularly enlightening. Nietzsche! (Letter to his fiancée, 1915)
















At his parents' request he earns a doctorate in political science and law.



Marries Róza Hollós.

Teacher of the National Music School (Nemzeti Zenede) until 1949 (composition, chamber music, music theory, methodology, music history), director from 1947.

His presence was strongly felt at the National Music School from the very first instance.


"In that year we adopted a strict curriculum compiled chiefly on the basis of the programme of the Schola Cantorum in Paris" (excerpt from the combined 1918–1921 Annals of the National Music School)




His pupils included, among others, JánosFerencsik , VilmosTátrai , JánosStarker and AndrásKórodi.



Birth of first son, László, future cancer researcher (†1995).

Profound work relationship and friendship with Bartók.


“Mr Lajtha, with whom we are excellent friends, was not a student of mine.  […]

He has only three published works (all for piano) which he will send to you. His other works – chamber music, orchestral works – have never appeared in print and neither have they ever been performed even, being deemed 'too difficult’ (as they say here); in any case, he does nothing to that end, nor to make his works better known. Kodály and Lajtha apart, we have no composer worthy of mention. (Bartók’s letter to Philip Heseltine-nak, 1920)









1922    Works

Birth of second son, Ábel, future brain researcher.

He is entrusted with the management of the National Museum’s instrument collection.

First foreign-language writing on Lajtha and his works by Philip Heseltine.


„Nagy mértékben hatott rá Bartók, de semmi esetre sem puszta imitátor. Zenéje teljesen egyéni, olykor száraz és riasztó, de sohasem közhelyes. Valóban úgy látszik, a közhelytól és a géniusz megkülönböztető érintésétől való félelem fosztja meg Lajthát az egyszerű szólás bátorságától. Különösen a Szonátából hányzik a kényszerítő erő, amely Bartók műveit jellemzi. Ám Lajthának finom érzéke van a dallam iránt és rövidebb darabjainak némelyike igen figyelemre méltó szépséget áraszt.” (Philip Heseltine on Lajtha in his article “Modern Hungarian Composers” in The Musical Times, 1922).









Due to a stomach disease contracted back in World War I, he desists from going on on folk song collecting trips between 1923 and 1929.


1924    Works

Bartók writes the first entry on Lajtha for the Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians.

He is appointed Guardian of the Museum of Ethnography.


1925    Works

He seeks retirement from the Museum on the grounds of deterioration of health.


1926    Works

Treatment at the Maria Trost sanatorium.


1927    Works

Heads the Goudimel choir at the Szabadság tér Lutheran church from the autumn of this year until March 1944.


1928    Works

Prague: gives talk on “Folk games and dances in Hungary” at the 1st International Folk Art Congress held by the Institute of Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations.

Signs first contract with the French Alphonse Leduc publisher.

Continues ethnographic research as retired guardian of the Museum of Ethnography.

13 of his folk song arrangements are recorded on gramophone disc as part of a Cultural Ministry project (performed by Imre Molnár and Sári Hir).


1929    Works

3rd String Quartet (Op. 11.) wins Coolidge Prize

First significant paper on Lajtha is published by Ottó Gombosi: “Ladislaus Lajtha” in Melos, vol. 8, 1929, pp. 231–235.

Attends negotiations on setting up an international ethnomusicological institute (Comité International des Arts Populaires) in Rome.

Elected Secretary of the Folk Art Committee at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences


1930    Works

Continues his folk music collecting work, now as part of a team.


“[The collection] is based on László Lajtha’s expert programme, who is personally heading the scheme together with  [Sándor] Veress and [István]  Volly.” (1939 report of the Hungarian Society of Ethnography)





Elected secretary of the ethnomusicology section of the Comité International des Arts Populaires in Antwerp.

G. Enescu stays at Lajtha’s home in Váci utca during his last concert tour in Budapest.


1931    Works

The Viennese Universal Edition publish his 3rd String Quartet .

He sets out on his lifelong cultural diplomatic missions: he is president and “expert permanent” of the Folk Music and Folk Dance Department at the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations.

The 3rd String Quartet is performed by the Róth Quartet as part of the Coolidge concerts in venues in New York, Seattle, Washington, London, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Moscow.

He taught at the summer workshop of the Austro-American Conservatory in Mondsee.


1932    Works

Composes 2nd String Trio (Op. 18.), dedicated to Romain Rolland

Active on the Parisian concert scene until 1939, his works mostly received their premiere there.

In Paris the Triton Society is established for the popularisation of the new music. The first work to be played at the founding concert is Lajtha’s Coolidge-Prize-winning 3rd String Quartet. Other members of the society include Stravinsky, Schönberg, Bartók, Ravel, Florent Schmitt, Ibert, Milhaud, Honegger, Poulenc, Hindemith and Prokofev.

Leduc brings out its first Lajtha work, the Op. 13.

Deiss/Salabert publishes its first Lajtha work, the Op.16.


“I have to say, I had the opportunity to meet, talk to, liaise with the greatest of the age, and later through my work I would meet Paul Valéry, T. S. Eliot, Huizinga, Madariaga, Foçillon, Thomas Mann, Florent Schmitt and Debussy, and I might add to the list Hindemith, Bartók, Kodály and Prokofiev who returned to Russia from my flat after his last concert tour in Europe… Honegger, Milhaud… I couldn’t even begin list all the great poets, writers, painters, so many eminent men alongside whom I humbly stood my ground…” Lajtha’s words quoted form an unpublished diary entry by Zsuzsanna Erdélyi










1933    Works

Lajtha's works are performed in Paris also at the Tuesday concerts of La Revue Musicale, at the Schola Cantorum, the Spirale ociety, and at events of the Société Nationale de Musique


1934    Works

He renegotiates terms with the publisher Alphonse Leduc.


1935    Works

Becomes musical director of the open university of the Hungarian Radio, until 1938.

At Bartók’s recommendation he is commissioned to compose music for the Austrian director G. Hoellering’s documentary film Hortobágy

(script by ZsigmondMóricz ).


“My father went down with him [the director] to the Hortobágy, picked his cast of shepherds, women and children – they had wished to do the acting without professional actors – and then came home and wrote the Grave Horse. (VirágMóricz : Apám regénye [My Father's Novel],  Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, Budapest 1979, p. 460).







1936    Works

Hortobágy receives its premiere in London and Paris.


Eating sausage from newspaper? That’s NOT Hungary! (Words of the Hungarian ambassador after the London premiere)




Lajtha on his compositional creed in an interview for a French paper:


"Personally, I’m not a proponent of folklore in music. I believe the works owe their significance only to the composer’s personality and not the material borrowed. I am aware that folk art and our art are fundamentally different worlds. […] I am greatly attracted by the myriads of melodic principles, rhythms, structures, the spontaneity of expression, the musical instinct that manifests itself in folk songs – without, however, wanting to use them in my works. (Claude Chamfray: “Lajtha”, Beaux-Arts 1936).








The first orchestral work by Lajtha to be played in Budapest (1st “Lysistrata” Suite, Municipal Orchestra, Dr Jenő Boldis)

Lajtha had Prokofiev for dinner at his flat in Budapest on the eve before the composer-pianist returned to the Soviet Union.


1937    Works

Contributed, until his death, to the publication of the “Pátria” folk music record series.

Gives lecture entitled Le public et la musique contemporaine in Florence at the International Musical Conference held as part of the Maggio Musicale

New works of his are premiered around Europe: the 1st Suite (Rome, Brussels), the Sonatina for Violin and Piano (Copenhagen, Paris, Riga), the Sonata for Cello and Piano (Lyon, Marseille, Geneva), the 1st Harp Trio (London, Paris).

The Royal Hungarian Opera House stages his ballet Lysistrata.


1938    Works

Lifelong friendship with composer Henry Barraud. Apart from maintaining a profound relationship, they mutually help the performance of each other’s works.


J’aimerais quand-même dissiper une malentendu occasionenel. Quand je vpus ai demandé d’inviter la critique, ce n’était pas pour moi, mais pour M. Rajter, qui  cause de sa situation a mis un point d’honneur  recevoir des critiques parisiennes. (Il s’en est abonné). De ma part je m’en fais peu de cas. Ce n’est pas une arrogance ou un faux orgeuil. Je connais trop bien la valeur humaine et artistique de ceux, qui font en général la critique. Et puis je connais trop tout ce, qui est autour de notre métier. Je sais bien l’inutilité et la vanité des efforts de ces compositeurs, qui chassent à tout prix la presse et la critique. Il n’y a que l’opinion des compositeurs et des musiciens du rang, qui peut faire quelque chose. Ce jugement et cette appréciation est la seule, qui a de la valeur et c’est cela, qui peut pénetrer dans l’opinion publique – et peut-être lentement, mais sûrement modifie et donne définitif à la critique. C’est pour cela que j’étais heureux de lire cers belles choses, que vous m’avez écrit de ma Suite. 

                Vous m’avez donné de la joie en disant „un vrai musicien de chez nous”. Dans la situation mondiale j’ai ma foiu ferme dans la vocation de la France. Malgrès tous les troubles c’est un pays, qui tient haut encore toujours cette lumière, dans laquelle nous avons toujours cru.. (Letter from Lajtha, 1938)


















1939    Works

New works by Lajtha in concert halls around Europe: Divertissement (on Geneva Radio), 1st Symphony (Holland),

Sonatina for Violin and Radio (Paris), a Sonata for Cello and Piano (Grenoble, Lyon, Geneva), “Marionettes” Harp Quintet (Paris), 1st Suite (Brussels), Scherzo and Toccata from Six Works for Piano (Paris, Luxembourg).


1940    Works

Composes Concert Sonata for Cello and Piano (Op. 31.), dedicated to André Navarra, one of Lajtha’s most frequently-played chamber works.


1941    Works

On the 150th anniversary of Mozart’s death he organises an extensive violin-piano sonata concert series at the National Music School


1942    Works

The below excerpt from a letter to Barraud attests to Lajtha’s brand of humour:



Mon cher Ami, j’étais très heureux de pouvoir lire, – après un si long délai, votre écriture. Je ne sais vraiment pas, pourquoi je l’aime; votre écriture n’est ni trop belle, ni trop lisible. Mais vous savez, mon cher Ami, que – chacun a son goût. Si on attend déjà depuis longtemps la lettre d’un ami, on l’a reçoit enfin, – on ouvre impatiemment l’enveloppe, on dévore le contenu et on est très vite au bout: la joie était trop courte. – Mais votre lettre… c’est une jouissance prolongée! On s’arrète à chaque instant pour déchiffrer le dessin curieux qui devtait être un mot important de la phrase; vous forcez de lire votre lentement et la savourer dans le sens du savoir vivre galois… (Letter from Lajtha, 1942)











1943    Work

He composes the dance comedy The Grove of the Four Gods for István Rév's National Puppet Theatre(?).


1944    Works

Gives talk on “La musique française de la renaissance,” at the Alliance Française in Budapest.

His family survives the siege of Budapest in the building of the Medical University’s Department of Physiology.

Together with his sons he participates in setting up KISKA, an auxiliary police force.



„1944 márciusától mint tiszt a nemzeti ellenállás egy egységét vezettem, fiaim a parancsnokságom alatt szolgáltak ugyanott. Ily módon, a titkos szervezet segítségével tudtunk Budapesten maradni. A kedvezőtlen körülmények miatt, sajnos, az ellenállás nem bontakozott úgy ki, mint Önöknél Franciaországban. […]”(Letter to A. Leduc, December 1945)








1945    Works

Musical director of the Hungarian radio for a year and a half, starting from February. He reorganises and transforms the Radio Orchestra into a modern symphony orchestra.


Lajtha’s works performed regularly in Hungary until the end of 1948.


1946    Works

Acting director of the Museum of Ethnography from August to December.


1947    Works

Elected director of the National Music School Society [Nemzeti Zenede Egyesület]. In a radio broadcast he pays tribute to Bartók who had died two years before, and advocates the setting up of a Bartók Archives.

October 1947 – October 1948: spends a year in London, together with his family, at Hoellering’s invitation.

Writes new music for film (Murder in the Cathedral, after a drama by T. S. Eliot).

Gives a half-hour talk on his compositional concepts and the soundtrack of Hortobágy on Third Programme Radio before the works itself is broadcast.


“I met him for the first time yesterday. Hoellering was in bit of a cold sweat. (He refused to admit this, but I noticed, especially from his eagerness with which he tried to coach me.) Of course, when it came to it, it was quite different. First we chatted. Then we moved on to the drama. I explained my musical concept, how I’d shaped the music and how my music […] might shape that part of the drama which I’d chosen to set to music. Eliot listened to me, kept listening, and eventually he interrupted and became enthusiastic and finally announced that few had succeeded in understanding his poetic conception in the way I had. Modestly and affectionately: ‘Your music will make it become a real film, it will greatly help and elevate my words, thoughts and ideas.’ He had no objections against anything. When I left – after an hour and half instead of the planned half hour – we said goodbye in a warm and friendly manner. Hoelle was beaming. Also with pride. I am, after all, his musician. He told me Eliot was a sharp critic and there was anything he really didn’t like, he would make a point of telling you in one way or another. Yesterday someone (from the press) came to see Hoelle to find out about me. To which he proudly announced, ‘he is writing the music for "Murder” in agreement with T. S. Eliot.’ Which is really great […], you’re probably not aware what a great man he is considered over here…” (Letter from Lajtha to his family)




















Founding member of UNESCO's London-based International Folk Music Council, of which he remains until his death member of the executive board.

Elected vice-president of the Hungarian Society of Ethnography.


1948    Works

In July he is elected Chairman of the Hungarian Music School.

Exclusive publisher’s contract with Leduc.

2nd Harp Quintet (Op. 46), part of  Murder in the Cathedral,  receives its premiere in London (BBC, Wigmore Ensemble)

After October: his sons decide not to return to Hungary, Lajtha returns. He is dismissed from all of his jobs, he has no work and no pension. He is refused a passport for 14 years. His works are barely played in Hungary, he is classified by the communist authorities as a “political resistance fighter.”



“No work of mine was performed at a public concert in Hungary in this season; in fact, in the summer there will be a concert in the Károlyi Gardens with an orchestral work by each of some twenty composers including Kodály; I’m the only composer completely left out, nothing will be played by me. Naturally for political reasons – which I was specifically told. (Letter to his sons)








1949    Works

3rd Symphony (Op. 45), part of  Murder in the Cathedral,  receives its premiere in London (BBC, London,

Royal  Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult ). Lajtha can only read about its success in the critiques.

The music for Hoellering’s new film, Shapes and Forms is recorded in London in Lajtha’s absence (conducted by Mátyás Seiber).

He turns down commissions from the powers that be, and refuses to collaborate in any way with the communist system.


1950    Works

Writes  Missa in tono phrygio, subtitle: In diebus tribulationis


1951    Works

Murder in the Cathedral receives two grand prizes at the Venice International Film Festival.


III. Szimfóniámnak nagy visszhangja volt Magyarországon. A londoni rádió több műsorában is beszámolt a velencei sikerről és ez a díj itthon számos kellemetlenségtől mentett meg. Ugyan nem említik a szerzőt, (T. S. Eliot, a nagy angol költő, 1950 Nobel díjasa) nem beszélnek a témáról (angliai Szent Tamás mártíriuma) – erről különösen hallgatnak – csak arról vesznek tudomást, hogy egy “bizonyos” film, amelynek én írtam a zenéjét, díjat kapott egy “bizonyos” fesztiválon. Mivelhogy még mindig nagyon érzékenyek a nyugati sikerekre, büszkék rá és elnézik nekem, de ismétlem, a film említése nélkül. Tulajdonképpen ez felszabadítja a III. Szimfóniát, amely ezután szabadon terjeszthető lesz nálunk is. (Uncensored letter to his publisher, 1951)













Receives the state Kossuth Prize for his ethnographic oeuvre. He attends the ceremony only at his friends’ behest and gives away the money.


“I’d known for many years just how much Hungarians owed to László Lajtha, and on the turn of 1950-51 I managed somehow to break through the walls of darkness and spite that would creep into the most unexpected places. To tell the truth, now that József Révay is dead, too, I owe Auntie Rózsika a confession: Révay was the first to understand what this was about. Out of all persons, he who was thought to be the toughest nut to crack… The toughest nut of all, however – against whom I virtually had to resort to violence in the dramatic of the final meeting of the Kossuth Prize Committee, and whom I’d been fighting throughout the previous meetings – was Kodály himself…” (Sándor Asztalos ont he decision of the Kossuth Prize Committee)












The Ministry of Education sets up a Lajtha team (Lajtha, Margit Tóth and Zsuzsanna Erdélyi) which regularly goes on collecting trips (a week a month). Often this is Lajtha’s only source of income. In the first term of the school year 1951/52 Lajtha was guest professor in folk music practice at the Music Academy.

In November the 7th String Quartet received its premiere in Budapest during the 1st Musical Week.

Lajtha’s art was mentioned in the dispute that followed the festival:


His refreshing, Magyar-sounding 7th String Quartet  on one of the chamber music programmes of the Musical Week was warmly welcomed as a turning point in Lajtha’s compositional oeuvre and a major step towards Hungarian folk music and realism by means of breaking with the spirit of Western European cosmopolitanism and formalism. However, comrade Lajtha’s latest work which comes after the 7th String Quartet, the 4th Symphony, premiered at the first philharmonic concert, is as if the 7th String Quartet had never been written, in that it continues the unwelcome manner of music-making, that subjective spirit which, Lajtha for a short time had us believe, had been rooted from Lajtha’s valuable and significant art.” (Ferenc Szabó's speech opening the debate)













1952    Works

Hoellering’s film is premiered in London and New York. Lajtha and his friend, the writer Áron Tamási create from Transylvanian folk songs a short dramatic scene (A bujdosó leány), for Mária Mezei, also suppressed for political reasons. The authorities consider this to be an act of irredentist incitement and have it banned after nine performances.


Constatant que la sévérité de la pression officielle augmente de jour en jour, en me référant à vous, j’ai nettement reffusé d’écrire le Concerto pour violon.. […]Mais entre-temps j’ai réfléchi. . Il est dangereux de battre en retraite et de leur céder le moindre terraine. Si j’accepte une des propositions des oofficiels d’ici, c’est un précédent et je ne trouvrai plus l’argument de refuser d’écrire une Cantate pour Stalin ou une autre composition qui est dans la ligne, ou comme on le dit: réalistico-optimiste..[…] Et maintenant je parle d’une composition, laquelle doit rester secrète. Les institutions catholiques m’ont demandé d’écrirere une messe. (J’ai écrit déjà une en 1950  pour orchrstre et choeur, maiss malheureusement,- après l’avoir terminé les orchestres des grandes églises ont été supprimés). Voyant que les compositeurs catholiques n’osent pas écrire une Messe,- ils se sont adressés à moi, pour demander une Messe facile pour choeur et orgue. Je suis en train de la terminer.  Dans la lettre […], donnez-moi votre decision sur la Messe, en ne le nomant pas Messe, mais oeuvre choral! (Uncensored letter to his publisher, 1952)

















1953    Works

He dedicates his 10th String Quartet (Transylvanian Suite) to the Tátrai Quartet.


1954    Works

He publishes volumes I and II of Népzenei monográfiák [Monographs in Folk Music], Szépkenyerűszentmártoni gyűjtés  [Szépkenyerűszentmárton Collection] and Széki gyűjtés [Szék Collection]. In his preface he writes about his concern with punctual notation and the limits of punctuality.


“Since lately I’ve had access to increasingly subtle devices, I could revise my notations for every type of device. The revisions would never end… One must, with some resignation, give up revising notations.” (Lajtha’s preface to the Szék Collection, 1954)








1955    Works

Enescu’s death leaves an empty seat among the immortals in the French Academy.

Florent Schmitt suggests Lajtha as Enescu’s successor and in his response Guy Turbet-Delof, director of the French Institute in Budapest, gives Schmitt all his backing.



Uram, kedves mester, 

Ön volt oly szíves és megosztotta velem szándékát, hogy az Institut de France (Francia Szépművészeti Akadémia) új levelező tagjává – George Enescu román zeneszerző megüresedett helyére – Lajtha László magyar zeneszerzőt szeretné javasolni, és véleményemet kérte ezügyben.

Köszönöm az irántam tanúsított bizalmát. Talán az Akadémia megtehetné, hogy hivatalos úton fordul a Külügyminisztériumhoz, így az minden bizonnyal hiteles véleményt mondhatna Lajtha úr esetleges jelöléséről. A magam részéről mindemellett a legnagyobb örömmel válaszolok kérdésére – természetesen magánemberként.

A legmelegebben csatlakozom az Ön javaslatához, mivel Lajtha László művészi, tudományos és politikai érdemei a legmesszebbmenően igazolják ezt.

1.       Művészi érdemei. Az alig több mint hatvan éves Lajtha László mennyiségi és minőségi tekintetben egyaránt jelentős zeneszerzői életművet mondhat a magáénak. Kiemelném mintegy tíz vonósnégyesét, öt szimfóniáját, két miséjét, számos egyéb zenekari és kamaraművét, kórusait, zenéjét T. S. Eliot Gyilkosság a székesegyházban c. filmjéhez, két balettjét, Madariaga librettójára készült operáját stb. E műveket számos országban nagy sikerrel játszották, különösen Franciaországban és Amerikában. Jelenleg a kritikusok Lajthát a kortárs zene egyik legjelentősebb képviselőjében tartják. Másrészről jól ismert tény, hogy a zeneszerző fiatal kora óta, részben személyes baráti kapcsolatai, részben művészi irányultsága okán az ún. párizsi iskola tagja. Műveinek állandó kiadója párizsi kiadó. Joggal hasonlították zenéjét egy olyan egy érméhez, amelynek “anyaga magyar, megmunkálása francia, árfolyama egyetemes”.

2.       Tudományos érdemei. Bartók Béla halála óta Lajtha Kodály Zoltánnal együtt a nagy magyar folklóriskola legavatottabb képviselője. Néprajzi publikációi és nemzetközi néprajzi társaságokban betöltött szerepe egyként igazolják tudományos munkásságának értékét.

3.      Politikai érdemei. Lajtha L. azon igen ritka magyar személyiségek egyike, akik egyetlen kompromisszumra sem voltak hajlandóak az országot hét éve uraló rendszerrel szemben. Így meg tudta őrizni művészi és emberi függetlenségét, állandó bizonyítékát adva szellemi tartásának és a nyugati kultúra iránti elkötelezettségének. Külön említésre méltó franciabarát magatartása: ez leginkább abban a hatékony szervezőmunkában nyilvánul meg, amelyet évek óta a – Magyarországon a német (1945 előtt) és a szovjet (1948 után) kultúrbefolyás miatt háttérbe szorult – francia kultúra itteni terjesztése terén végez.

Befejezésül egy olyan érvet is felhoznék, amelyet – az előbbiekhez hasonlóan – magánemberként közlök Önnel: különösen kívánatosnak tűnik, hogy a jelenlegi nemzetközi feltételek közepette George Enescu utóda szintén egy közép-európai zeneszerző legyen. Úgy Magyarországon, mint Romániában és a többi szomszédos országban létezik egy bizonyos – jelenleg többé-kevésbé szunnyadó – franciabarát hagyomány, amelynek felélesztése sokkal könnyebb lenne, ha Franciaország nagyobb figyelemmel fordulna Európa e régiójában élő barátai iránt. Lajtha L. akadémiai tagjelölése – a legnagyobb külföldi tekintélynek örvendő Szépművészeti Akadémiáé – önmagában is messzemenően indokolt, de az előbb jelzett  körülmények – melyeket aligha lehet figyelmen kívül hagyni – a döntést különleges állásfoglalássá avatnák.

Kérem, uram és kedves mester, fogadja a legőszintébb tiszteletteljes üdvözletemet,

Guy Turbet–Delof
















































A Francia Akadémia tagjának választják, de nem kap útlevelet, így székét nem foglalhatja el.


The 3rd volume of Népzenei monográfiák [Monographs in Folk Music] comes out, the Kőrispataki gyűjtés [Kőrispatak Collection].

Lajtha’s first composer’s night is held in Paris in the absence of the composer, presented by Antoine Goléa.


1956    Works

He is in Sopron when the uprising breaks, it takes an adventurous voyage to get home. On return, he has his first heart attack.

The 4th volume of Népzenei monográfiák [Monographs in Folk Music], Sopron megyei virrasztó énekek [Sopron County Vigil Songs] comes out.


1957    Works

“Forgive me, my dear Ábi, for asking other things from you. […] I only ask you things because you can’t get anything in Pest. Textile ware, clothes, underwear – nothing can be bought. What you can buy is rags, at a price. […] There is no way I can replace my wardrobe. Which is why I asked you for a pair of winter trousers. The time has passed, as has the winter, so I no longer need it. Perhaps I might ask for a pair of summer trousers for the summer. I’ll send you the size.

Send all clothes packages through Leduc. If you rumple the trousers and write 'second-hand’ on the parcel, Leduc won’t have to pay so much duty on it. Leduc will send it on via diplomatic courier, so no duty has to be paid on it over here.” (Letter to his son Ábel )














The Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra tours Europe with Lajtha’s 5th Symphony.

He is allowed to travel to Copenhagen at the invitation of the International Folk Music Council to chair the folk music convention.


1958    Works

In Paris the Radio Orchestra premieres Lajtha’s 7th “Revolutionary” Symphony with György Lehel conducting.

The composer is absent, the success is resounding. Lajtha “is one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century" (M. Fleuret)

Missa in tono phrygio is broadcast on Tokyo radio.


1959    Works

His 7th Symphony is broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio.


1960    Works

The French Radio Orchestra play his 7th Symphony.

Lajtha’s 5th Symphony, his first work to be performed in the USA, is played by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra with George Széll conducting.

Lajtha receives honorary doctorate from the University of Strasbourg. Scholars and artists from around Europe issue a demand to grant Lajtha a passport.


1961    Works

He is finally issued a passport, after 14 years he meets his sons, grandchildren, conducts his works, gives lectures, takes part in competition juries.

At Jacques Chailley’s invitation he gives a talk at the Sorbonne entitled Les problèmes de méthode

en musique populaire.

He conducts the Parisian premiere of his 8th Symphony.


1962    Works

He is invited to the jury of the Prince Rainier composers’ competition in Monaco.

He gives his inaugural lecture at the French Academy.

The 5th volume of Népzenei monográfiák [Monographs in Folk Music], Dunántúli táncok és dallamok [Transdanubian Dances and Tunes] comes out.

He travels to Paris again in the autumn to conduct a radio recording of his own works (Organ Mass, Three Mary Hymns)


1963    Works

On 16 February, on return from a collecting trip, he has his second heart attack and dies suddenly.


Contact: lajtha@hagyomanyokhaza.hu Site search: