Author Topic: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist  (Read 14108 times)

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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2016, 02:57:20 PM »

^ click to enlarge

from Hagyomanyok Haza (Heritage House):

                                 "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, later and he enjoyed much international acclaim.  . . .  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."

His father was a musician, who also composed and wanted to be a conductor.  Attended the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, and also studied in Leipzig, Geneva and Paris. Married his fiancee since 1916, Rózsa Hollós, in 1919. Their two sons were both notable in the medical field. A friend of both Bartok and Kodaly, he acquired an interest in folk-music, and often accompanied them on their folk music collecting expeditions, and also ventured on his own in this endeavor.  Enescu was a friend, and left a recommendation that he be appointed to the French Academy seat of the "immortals," which he was following Enescu's death. He resided in Budapest from 1923 until his death, but he was widely travelled during this period, including long visits in Paris and London.  He won several prizes for his compositions, including the Kossuth Prize in 1951. As a supporter of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, he suffered politically - his music was suppressed.  In 1963, he died from his second heart attack, aged 71. His wife lived on to the age of 96.  Considered one of the great symphonists of the first half of the 20th century, he left a rich and varied list of chamber works, including many string quartets, that reflect the work of Bartok, but also late-Beethoven in some respects.

        Orchestral                                                                                                                   Chamber
==========================================               ====================================
Violin Concerto, Op.15, 1931, unpubd, lost                                                      String Sextet, Op.3, 1921, unpubd, lost
Overture and Suite, Op.19a, from Lysistrata, 1933                                            Piano Quintet, Op.4, 1922, unpubd
Suite, from Hortobágy, Op.21a, 1935                                                              String Quartet no.1, Op.5, 1922, unpubd
Symphony no.1, Op.24, 1936                                                                          Piano Quartet, Op.6, 1925, unpubd
Divertissement, Op.25, 1936                                                                          String Quartet no.2, Op.7, 1926, unpubd
Symphony no.2, Op.27, 1938                                                                         String Trio no.1 (Sérénade), Op.9 1927, unpubd
Divertissement no.2,, Op.30, 1939, unpubd, lost                                              Piano Trio, Op.10, unpubd
Les soli, sym., str, hp, perc, Op.33, 1941                                                         String Quartet No.3, Op.11, 1929
In memoriam, sym. poem, Op.35 1941                                                            String Quartet no.4, Op.12 1930
Evasion, fuite, liberté, sym. poem, Op.37, 1942, lost                                         Sonatina for Violin & Piano, Op.13, 1930
Suite du ballet no.2, Op.38a, from Le bosquet des quatre dieux, 1943               Sonata for Cello & Piano, Op.17, 1932
Suite, from Capriccio, Op.39a, 1944                                                                 String Trio no.2, Op.18, 1932
Sinfonietta, str, Op.43, 1946                                                                           String Quartet no.5 (Cinq études), Op.20, 1934
Variations, 1947, Op.44, unpubd                                                                     Trio no.1, for Flute, Harp & Cello, Op.22 1935
Symphony no.3, Op.45, 1947                                                                          Marionettes, for Flute, Harp & string trio, Op.26, 1937
Shapes and Forms, small orch, Op.48, 1949, unpubd, lost                                Sonata for Violin & Piano, Op.28, 1939, unpubd, lost
Symphony no.4 ‘Le printemps’, Op.52, 1951                                                     Concerto for Cello & Piano, Op.31, 1940
Symphony no.5, Op.55, 1952                                                                           String Quartet no.6 (Quatre études), Op.36, 1942, unpubd
Suite no.3, Op.56, 1952                                                                                   Serenade for Wind Trio, Op.40, 1944, lost
Symphony no.6, Op.61, 1955                                                                   String Trio no.3, Op.41 ‘Soirs transylvains’, (Transylvanian Night) 1945
Sinfonietta no.2, str, Op.62, 1956                                                                     Quatre hommages, for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon, Op.42, 1946
Symphony no.7,  Op.63, 1957                                                                          Quintet, for Flute, Harp, Violin, Viola & Cello,  Op.46, 1948
Symphony no.8, Op.66, 1959                                                                           Trio no.2, for Harp, Flute & Cello, Op.47 1949
Symphony no.9, Op.67, 1961                                                                         String Quartet no.7, Op.49, 1950
                                                                                                                    String Quartet no.8, Op.53, 1951
                                                                                                                   String Quartet no.9, Op.57, 1953
   Piano                                                                                                     String Quartet no.10 ‘Soirs transylvains’, Op.58, 1953
==================================                                      Intermezzo, for Saxophone & Piano, Op.59, 1954
Des écrits d’un musicien, Op.1, 1913                                                               Sonate en concert, for Flute & Piano, Op.64, 1958
Contes I,  Op.2, 1914                                                                                      Sonate en concert, for Violin & Piano, Op.68, 1962
Contes II, 1914–17, unpubd, lost                                                                     Deux pièces for Flute, Op.69, 1958
Sonata, 1916
Prélude, 1918
Hat zongoradarab [6 Piano Pieces], unpubd                                           Ballet
Scherzo et toccata,  Op.14, 1930, unpubd                                 ==========================================
Trois berceuses, 1955–7                                                                Lysistrata, Op.19 (ballet, 1, Lajtha and L. Áprily, after Aristophanes), 1933
                                                                                                    Capriccio, Op.39 (ballet, 1, Lajtha), 1944
                                                                                                    Le bosquet des quatre dieux, Op.38 (dance-comedy, 1, J. Révay), 1943
   Film Scores - Opera
===========================================

Hortobágy, Op.21 (film score), 1935
Murder in the Cathedral, Op.44 (film score, T.S. Eliot), 1948, unpubd
Shapes and Forms, Op.48 (film score), 1949, unpubd
Le chapeau bleu, Op.51 (opéra bouffe, 2, S. de Madariaga), 1950
Kövek, várak, emberek [Stones, Castles, Men] (film score), 1956

     Choral
=================================================

Deux choeurs, Op.16 (L. Áprily), unacc., 1932: A hegylakók [The Mountaineers], Esti párabeszéd [Nocturnal Dialogue]
Deux choeurs, Op.23 (C. d’Orléans), unacc., 1936
Trois madrigaux, Op.29 (d’Orléans), unacc., 1939
Par où est passé le chant, Op.32 (Áprily), unacc., 1940
Missa in tono phrygio, Op.50, chorus, orch, 1950
Mass, chorus, organ, Op.54 1952
Magnificat, female vv, organ, Op.60 1954
Trois hymnes pour la Ste Vierge, Op.65 female vv, org, 1958

« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 09:42:36 AM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #41 on: July 10, 2016, 05:28:15 PM »

^ ç1963 String Quartet Nr.5 - on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3+Lajtha%3A+Cinq+%C3%A9tudes+pour+quatuor+a+cordes

Liner notes:
             " Chamber music was originally intended as entertainment for small parties.  However, during the last century performances in the concert hall became frequent, and that has tended to change its technical character.
This is reflected in the "Five Etudes for String Quartet" Op.20, composed by László Lajtha in 1934. Lajtha (1892-1963) was a prominent Hungarian member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts  and was awarded both the Kossuth and Coolridge prizes.  His Etudes are reached in the form of the concert etudes by Liszt  and Chopin.  The Five Etudes comprise, in fact, a concert piece.
   The chief essential of the first movement (Rythme et plénitude sonore) is pure virtuoso playing even in the forte passages, while the second movement (Jeu 'piano' et délicatesse de touche) is characterized by the subtletry and softness of the pianissimo parts.  The third movement is entitled "Pizzicato" and in it certain motifs and melodic fragments are passed from one instrument to another and it also provides a striking example of  pizzicato technique.  The fourth movement "Pizzicato" demands accurate balance of the various polyphonic parts while the sparkling 'spiccatos'  of the fifth movement (Vélocité légere) decorate an attractive and tuneful melody.
"



Some vinyl.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2016, 09:56:01 PM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2016, 09:33:32 AM »
1976 vinyl LP : click to enlarge



Quatre hommages, Op.42 for  flute, oboe, clarintet, bassoon, 1946
Trois nocturnes, Op.34 for soprano, harp, flute & string quartet, 1941
Deux pieces, Lp.69, for flute solo, 1958


All available on YT.


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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2016, 12:11:09 PM »
The sample clips I heard on Amazon were impressive.





John Warrack stated in 1993 in Gramophone:
         " High claims are made by Hungarians for the music of Laszlo Lajtha, and he himself had considerable success as a pianist on his visits to Paris between the wars. He was born in 1892 and died in 1963, parted by Communist insistence from his emigrated children and only able at the end of his life to see his grandchildren, for whom he wrote the three touching little lullabies that conclude this record. They are trifles, as one would expect, quasi-improvised melodies over sweeping piano chords.The remainder of the record suggests some of the reasons for Lajtha's high reputation in Hungary. The helpful insert-note speaks, as all commentators do, of the influence of Debussy and Bartok; but this needs careful qualification. Lajtha admired Debussy profoundly, and the influence seems to have reached him less by way of piano textures (though he has a sensitivity towards the sound of the instrument that Debussy would certainly have stimulated) than in the harmony. Here, again, it is not direct: rather, Lajtha seems to have observed Debussy's structural ingenuities, including his ability to use complex chords as keycentres. This is marked in the Prelude of 1918: was it an elegy for Debussy, who died that year?Bartok, who greatly admired Lajtha and tried to help his career, influenced some other music, most obviously the Six Pieces of 1930, with their fierce Toccata and skilfully devised Fugue and Inventions for two and three voices (Bach goes to Budapest). The folk interest the two composers shared is not so striking. Lajtha was a distinguished ethnomusicologist, but he was less concerned than Bartok to make use of Magyar scales and rhythms as the foundation of a language of international validity, more to explore their characteristics for their own sake. Undeniably these pieces lack the character of Bartok's idiom, and despite Lajtha's explicit rejection of serial methods, the music often approaches the manner of Schoenberg's Five Piano Pieces and Serenade. It is all very well made music.Klara Kormendi gives what seem to be very sympathetic performances, and the recording is attentive to the variety of piano sonorities that plays an important part in much of the invention.' "
« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 12:14:12 PM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - pronounced LOY-TAH
« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2016, 12:19:33 PM »
A 2001 essay [ http://www.crisismagazine.com/2001/music-laszlo-lajtha-music-from-a-secret-room ] by Robert R. Reilly:

Music — László Lajtha: Music from a Secret Room

The Cold War was so cold that only now, more than ten years after its end, are some composers’ works being thawed out for a general hearing. Hungarian composer László Lajtha (1892-1963) is finally emerging from the deep freeze in which the Hungarian Communist regime placed him.

In 1947, when Lajtha (pronounced “Loy-tah”) returned to Hungary after a year’s work in London on the film score of T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, the Communists confiscated his passport and stripped him of all his official positions. He had been the director of music for Hungarian Radio and director of the Museum of Ethnography and the National Conservatory. Not only had Lajtha been contaminated by foreign contacts, his sons had emigrated to England and America (a capital crime), making him additionally suspect. His sons were branded “dissidents” who could not safely return to Hungary. Lajtha himself was harassed and shadowed by the security services, and his friends dared visit him only in secret.

Despite this, Lajtha was awarded the prestigious Kossuth Prize in 1951, not for his suppressed compositions but for his research into Hungarian folk music. His friends had to persuade him to accept the prize, lest he be found in open defiance of the authorities. Though nearly destitute himself, he gave away all the prize money to the poor. After 14 years of internal exile, the year before his death in 1963, Lajtha was allowed out of Hungary for one trip, although he was never able to see his two American granddaughters, with whom he communicated in little piano pieces dedicated to them.

What is perhaps most extraordinary about Lajtha’s music from this period is that it is not a reflection of the circumstances in which it was written. Anyone who saw eastern Europe under Communism knows how drab and gray it was. The music it produced was either a harsh, hermetic reflection of this oppression or a banal celebration of the proletariat written for the commissars. Lajtha’s music is neither of these: It is free. Even in internal exile, he maintained his creative independence and integrity. How did he do this? In 1950, he wrote to one of his sons: “Just as in the town I have a room that is mine and only mine, so I have in my soul a secret room of my own. It has nothing to do with reality, yet it is more real.” In his extraordinary religious music, Lajtha revealed the ultimate source of that reality, especially in his Mass in a Time of Tribulation and his Magnificat.

Lajtha’s biographical facts would be of little more than historical interest if he were not a major composer. In the popular mind, only two great Hungarian composers inhabited the 20th century: Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) and Bela Bartok (1881-1945). Now we can say there was a third. The proof of this is at hand. The Marco Polo label has issued six CDs of Lajtha’s orchestral music, including all but the last two of his nine symphonies, and one CD of his piano music. A seventh CD of orchestral music, which will contain the last two symphonies, is due out in March. The Hungaroton label has released four CDs containing a good deal of Lajtha’s chamber and choral music.

Only ten years younger than his two famous fellow-composers, Lajtha shared with Kodaly and Bartok their love for and research into Hungarian folk music. He accompanied them on collecting expeditions and made many of his own. His music springs from the same folk ethos as theirs and is as much a reaction against the prevailing avant-garde atonality of the time. Yet Lajtha departed significantly from his senior colleagues in several ways. Unlike them, he rejected the German influence prevalent at the Budapest Academy of Music where he studied. Lajtha did not care for Wagner, or for German music after Schubert in general. This included Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations, which Lajtha found restrictive and pedantic. Rather, he turned toward France for his inspiration, particularly to his hero, Debussy.

Between 1911 and 1913, he spent half his time in Paris, where he studied with Vincent d’Indy. His French sensibilities were so pronounced that Bartok teased Lajtha by calling him “the Latin.” The French returned the favor by publishing Lajtha’s music (Alphonse Leduc in Paris) and awarding him membership in the Academie des Beaux-Arts, the only other Hungarian composer to be so honored besides Franz Liszt.

Lajtha’s other departure was his choice of the symphonic form, which was virtually untouched by Kodaly and Bartok except for youthful experiments. Lajtha’s nine symphonies stand unchallenged as an absolutely unique contribution to Hungarian music of the 20th century.

The key to appreciating Lajtha’s symphonies is not to expect them to develop in the typical German way. False expectations no doubt led to Gramophone magazine’s puzzlement at Lajtha’s Symphony No. 7. Its reviewer complained, “There are plenty of ideas, but none of them develops with much conviction: time and again I found myself raising a hand to welcome a promising thematic or dramatic fragment, only to hear it whittle away in the wake of something new.” That is exactly what Lajtha intended: a chainlike succession of ideas that, when developed at all, usually proceed in variation form.

Lajtha’s symphonies are kaleidoscopic and fanciful, often charged with dance rhythms, and full of folklike melodies and a profound sense of underlying mystery. Instead of the German symphonic model, think more of the 20th-century symphonies of Malipiero, Milhaud, or Martinti, and add a dash of Janacek for a gypsy-like wildness. As with Malipiero’s music, it is often hard to distinguish the differences between Lajtha’s symphonies and his suites. Lajtha’s works also share some similarities with Malcolm Arnold’s nine symphonies, particularly in the amount of burlesque and parody in them.

The entry in the New Grove music dictionary says that “the influence of Magyar folk music is less obvious in his works than in those of Bart& and Kodaly.” Yet on first acquaintance, the uniquely Hungarian flavor of Lajtha’s melodies is the most immediately striking feature of his music. The other immediate impression is made by the highly colorful orchestration, luminously set forth with Impressionist clarity. The content may be Hungarian, but the sensibility is French. Harp, saxophone, wood blocks, xylophone, and percussion frequently add spice to the swirling strings. Bartok’s influence is especially felt in Lajtha’s shimmering evocations of a mysterious crepuscular world similar to that found in Bartok’s famous “night music.” It is no wonder that Bartok admired his younger friend for doing the same thing so well—indeed, as well as Bartok himself, if with a more Gallic flavor.

Nonetheless, Lajtha’s sound world is identifiably distinct. After immersing myself in his music, I could easily identify a piece of his I had never heard before within a few measures. While his music could almost survive on its orchestral atmospherics alone, Lajtha also possessed a major melodic gift and a high level of craftsmanship. He said, “In all works of art the quality of craftsmanship is a decisive factor of evaluation.” In this respect, Lajtha clearly measured up to the standards of Kodaly and Bartok.

Marco Polo’s traversal of the symphonies is accompanied by some of Lajtha’s other orchestral works: three suites from ballets; a huge set of Variations for orchestra taken from the music for Murder in the Cathedral; and several other pieces, including the ballet Capriccio. The mood varies considerably from a kind of light and brilliant divertissement in the suites and some of the symphonies to the more harrowing and troubling disturbances of the other, usually odd-numbered symphonies, such as No. 7, “Revolution Symphony,” which evokes the tragedy of the Hungarian uprising in 1956. Yet none of the works is monochromatic. The variety within any of them can be absolutely wild, at one moment hauntng, the next whimsical, then nostalgic, then brash. Lajtha can do this and make it seem completely natural. He was able to step in and out of a dream-like state with ease.

The symphonies to which I have returned most often are the middle ones, Nos. 3 through 6, which may provide the best introduction to Lajtha. However, all the symphonies are highly accomplished products of Lajtha’s maturity. He was already 44 years old when he produced his highly charged First. Symphony No. 4, subtitled “Spring,” is a breezy and attractive score with a mini-violin concerto in the first movement and highly evocative gypsylike melodies. The second movement is redolent of Janata; the third, of Malcolm Arnold. A soul mate to Symphony No. 4, No. 6 is also breezy in its opening movement, followed by another utterly enchanting piece of “night music,” which is almost Mendelssohnian in its magical charm. This music is wonderfully mysterious in its crepuscular murmurings. The upper string registers are gently brushed to sound like cicadas, the high flutes twitter like night birds, and other burbling night sounds enchant the ear. Lajtha’s Third Symphony, drawing again from his music for Murder in the Cathedral, is more somber but gravely beautiful. No. 5 is a beguiling lament, suffused with yearning for a lost, mysterious world.

There is no room here to do justice to Lajtha’s chamber music, the most clearly French-influenced part of his oeuvre. His chamber music first put Lajtha on the musical map. In 1929, he won the Coolidge prize for his Third String Quartet. (Might we someday hope to hear the ten quartets?) Two of the Hungaroton CDs contain masterpieces by Lajtha that will entrance anyone who thrills to the chamber works of Ravel and Roussel for similar ensembles, especially his Harp Quintet No. 2; his Trio for harp, flute, and cello; and his Trio for flute, cello, and harp. Equally beguiling are the ravishing songs set in Lajtha’s Trois Nocturnes for soprano, flute, harp, and string quartet. The workmanship is dazzling, the inspiration high. Except for the intrusion of Hungarian melodies in these pieces, anyone would swear they were French born and bred.

Lajtha also excelled in choral music. The religious works presented on two other Hungaroton CDs demonstrate a sublime command of the voice and the use of it to express a deep faith. Lajtha’s Missa in diebus tribulationis was composed in 1950, a very difficult year for him and also the year in which the Communist regime suppressed the monasteries in Hungary. The Mass conveys a sense of mourning and loss but also of solace and even joy. Obviously, Lajtha had no hope of having the work performed; it came from the workbench in his “secret room.” For Lajtha, it was “an escape into a more beautiful, spotless world,” according to his widow.

This is a Mass of both exquisite refinement and moving simplicity. Its origins are steeped in Gregorian chant and French harmonies. The orchestration is luminously transparent, and the melodies are gorgeous. After starting each movement with Gregorian chant, Lajtha begins to elongate and transform the vocal lines, setting them forth monophonically and then intertwining them polyphonically. The full orchestra is used sparingly and to powerful effect, as in the peroration at the end of the Gloria. However dolorous, this is finally a work of soothing beauty.

Gregorian chant was also the touchstone for Lajtha’s Magnificat and his Three Hymns for the Holy Virgin, both works from the mid-50s for choir and organ. Lajtha saw his Magnificat as the antithesis to “the stridency, the trumpeting, the Baroque majesty of the fortes in the Magnificat of Bach and other masters.” This was, Lajtha said, “the hymn of a half-girlish voice sung on the shores of Lake Gennesaret.” What he wished to express in this seraphic music was “gentleness, grace, beauty, tenderness, humility.” It was, he wrote, “as if the soul, the happy, young, maternal soul, were bursting out and rippling in soft waves over the whole world.” Except for the aggressive organ interludes, this is what Lajtha achieved in this sweet music, written with his featherlight French touch. How warm must have been this secret room of his to produce such clear but gentle illumination.

How cold was the Cold War? Cold enough to freeze Lajtha out of the audience and recognition he deserved. But the door to his secret room stands open. You can enter by listening to this music, and the Cold War will melt away before you, as if civilization had triumphed. All praise to the Marco Polo and Hungaroton labels for finally making Lajtha’s music available.
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2016, 12:42:31 PM »

^ click to enlarge

 

 

 

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Offline J

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2016, 12:52:13 PM »
"Loy-tah".

How embarrassingly distant from the correct pronunciation I've been for more than two decades.

Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2016, 08:13:58 PM »
Haven't heard this one.

 

« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 10:15:58 PM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2016, 08:25:43 PM »


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Offline Scion7

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« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 08:43:26 PM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963] - Enescu's nominee
« Reply #50 on: July 11, 2016, 08:42:36 PM »
First movement of Op.33 -->  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3ADZZGOjt0



« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 09:18:13 PM by Scion7 »
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jlaurson

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2016, 10:30:04 PM »
just checking in to keep informed about this thread. (László Lajtha has a chapter in "Surprised by Beauty")

Offline Jo498

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2016, 11:27:01 PM »
I got two discs with symphonies from the Marco Polo series and one with quartets (Auer Q). While good I could not be bothered to pay big bucks for the rest of the quartets on hungaroton (almost never on sale). Earlier this year I bought another chamber music disc (usually with flute) but found this one comparably uninteresting.

Lajtha might be in some respects as accomplished (and more colorful or "impressionist") as Kodaly but so far I have not found a piece that really stands out like e.g. Kodaly's solo cello sonata does (and to be honest I find most of Kodaly's orchestral stuff not terribly interesting either). His music also seems to lack the "raw energy" infused from balkan folk music that Bartok and the better Kodaly stuff has. So I can to some extent understand that he remained rather obscure but he does reserve more recognition.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #53 on: July 11, 2016, 11:38:51 PM »
I disagree - I think he's a very good composer.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #54 on: July 12, 2016, 12:41:17 AM »
I agree that he is a very good composer who deserves more recognition, e.g. compared to Kodaly. But I have not yet found an outstanding piece like e.g. Kodaly's solo cello or dozens of pieces by Bartok. So I don't think he is a "great" composer and it's not completely mysterious that he remained rather obscure.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #55 on: July 12, 2016, 04:11:22 AM »
Remember, his music was suppressed due to his politics, and that added to his 'obscurity.'
But all sorts of magnificent music has never received the recognition it deserved, so that's no reflection on quality.
Today, only a handful of composers will fill a concert hall - and with costs so high, promoters are being more and more careful about what they back for a tour or a stage production.
The recent concert promoting the excellent Belgian composer Albert Huybrechts (d.1937)  was a commercial disaster, so that will probably be the last production of his music outside of a recording for a decade or more.

Lajtha has composed several chamber works that rank right up there with Kodaly.  Is he a genius of the same level as Bartók or Dohnányi?  No, I would not say so, either, but he's a master craftsman and has produced solid works. 

Weinberg was totally unknown outside of a small clique inside Russia, and is only now becoming known to the general public.
(Not that that will ensure concert programs of his music any time soon - it's not easy to even get a Shostakovich symphony on the bill these days.)
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963]
« Reply #56 on: July 13, 2016, 07:33:27 PM »
ç2002 Companion to Classical Music - so the recordings info is out-dated now.
Since this is easily viewed via Google Books, I decided to grab a screen-shot:



^ click to enlarge
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963]
« Reply #57 on: August 04, 2016, 12:44:24 AM »
Unheard Hungarians
By Richard Freed March 2, 1980

     Last Dec. 9, in a review of the Hungaroton record of Laszio Lajtha's String Quartet No. 10 and Sinfonietta, it was suggested that those works "could inspire a healthy curiosity about Lajtha's other compositions."
     A month later Istvan Csicsery-Ronay of Arlington wrote to call my attention to a recording of the Hungarian composer's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 9, from the same source. That record - Hungaroton LPX-11564 (1972) - has come to hand now, and these two works make an even stronger impression. Anyone hearing them must wonder why they haven't been taken up by American ochestras.
     Actually, we don't know any Hungarian symphonies except the "Dante" and "Faust" symphonies of Liszt. Bartok's Kossuth Symphony, really a sort of tone poem written early in his life, is never played here (or anywhere outside Hungary), and neither is Kodaly's solitary essay in this form, which came rather late in his life (composed as a memorial to Toscanini) and is perhaps not one of his more significant works. Lajtha's seriousnes as a symphonist seems somehow mystically validated even by the number of symphonies he produced, the once-traditional nine.
     There is nothing traditional about the music itself, though. The fourth Symphony, Op. 52, was composed in 1951 and first performed a few months after Lajtha's death in 1963. Both works, brilliantly and, one assumes, authoritatively, performed by the Hungarian State Orchestra under Janos Ferencsik, make the most immediate impact with their vivid colors and their strong, contrasting rhythms.
     It is easy enough to try to describe unknown music in terms of its resemblance to other music. In the opening movement of the "Spring" Symphony the animated string figures recall the lightness of Dag Wiren's famous little Serenade and the earthy flow of the Bartok Divertimento, while the golenspiel and triangle and the piquant interjections of the trumpet and clarinet suggest parallels with Prokofiev's ingratiating Symphony No. 7, produced at about the same time as this work. Much of the coloring echoes Debussy, and the rhythmic accents project the identifiably Magyar flavor familiar to us from such folk-inflected works as Kodaly's "Dances of Galanta" and Bartok's "Dance Suite." In the finale a bassoon figure may remind us of Host, and even the principal theme, carried by the strings, is similar to "The Dargason" as quoted in both his "St. Paul's Suite" and the second of his two suites for band.
     Despite these numerous similarites, however, the overrriding impression is one of great freshness and vitality, of a style as original and personal as it is study and direct.
     Peter Varnai's annotation advises that the Fourth Symphony was written when Lajtha was living "in complete seclusion." It is hard to believe so agreeable and outgoing a work could have been produced by a recluse; its sunny communicativeness suggests a background of cheery conviviality. The Ninth, however, is a different sort of work: darker, more intense and dramatic -- a reluctant valediction, one might infer, from a man who was passionately fond of life.
     In the Ninth the specifically Hungarian coloring is less apparent. While the frame is a contemporary one -- conspicuously so in the writing for percussion and saxophone -- the themes are molded after Gregorian models. The slow movement (both the Fourth and the Ninth are three-movement works) is especially affecting in its lyricism, with some eerie wind-machine effects for the strings and isolated irruptions to preserve the link with the more impassioned outer movements.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 01:05:56 AM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: László Lajtha [1892-1963]
« Reply #58 on: August 04, 2016, 01:26:10 AM »


Missa in tono phrygio/Missa in diebus tribulationis, Op.50,  1950 - 1990 LP
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: László Lajtha (1892-1963), the greatest Hungarian symphonist
« Reply #59 on: June 03, 2019, 02:49:18 AM »
After listening to some previews, I've decided to take the plunge and order my first Lajtha disc, Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9. The music sounds right up my street, and my curiosity is also piqued by Lajtha's inclusion of saxophone in several of the symphonies.