Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
CHAMBER MUSIC : Poem; Suite; Hebrew Caprice; String Quartet in C-Minor.
CHORAL : Kaddish.

About Alexander Kreyn:

Cobbett W. W. Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music; Ewen David. Hebrew Music; Montagu-Nathan Montagu. Contemporary Russian Composers.


Ladislas Lajtha 1892-

LADISLAS LAJTHA was born in Budapest on June 30, 1892, and received his musical education in such principal European cities as Budapest, Leipzig, Geneva and Paris. Since 1913, he has been employed in the Ethnographical section of the Hungarian National Museum in the department of Folk-Music. At this time, he had composed several interesting piano compositions (concerning which Béla Bartók commented that "in these works Lajtha reveals himself as a follower of atonal tendencies, and as such stands perhaps nearest to Schönberg"), and works for chamber groups which brought him a certain amount of recognition.

The War rudely interrupted his musical activities and brought his artistic career to an abrupt halt. From 1914 until 1918, Lajtha served in the Hungarian army as an officer, and during the entire four-year period was in the front lines. The war over, Lajtha returned to Budapest to find his country suffering from political and economic hardships. Needless to say, he, too, was affected by the severe conditions and for a long while he had to work so hard to earn a living, that all composition was out of the question. When, at last, he could return to composing he discovered that he had to begin all over again to establish himself in Hungary's musical life. He had been virtually forgotten during his period of silence; and such connections as he had had before the war had completely deserted him.

"Altho the bloody World war brought the path of my career to a standstill," he writes, "yet I am not ungrateful to this period. I met Life and Death so frequently during this time that my own.

personality and my entire Weltanschauung were affected. I gained a new insight into the meaning of life, and this insight changed the nature of my entire artistic output. Henceforth, my music was to have an entirely new meaning."

After serving as a director of the chorus of the Budapest Calvinist Church, Lajtha was called to the Hungarian National Conservatory to serve as professor of Chamber Music and Composition. Since 1929, he has been the director of the Musical Bureau of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation.

Lajtha has not been a prolific composer. The music he has produced shows the careful labor that has been expended in its creation. His style is radical, and it is sharpest and most effective in his chamber music. Probably the most famous of his works is his Third String Quartet which has been performed by leading chamber groups, and was introduced in America by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Festival in Washington in 1930.

"His music," analyzes Philip Heseltine, "is quite individual, occasionally arid and forbidding, but never banal. . . . Lajtha has a fine gift of melody, and some of his shorter pieces are of very considerable beauty."

Lajtha has an enormous faith in modern music. "I do not admire those

____________________
Ladislas Lajtha: lŏd′ĭs-lŏs lI+014Fi′

-151-

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