Folk Music Collection of Lajtha, László
The folk music collection of László Lajtha is currently held at the Hungarian Heritage House. The collection provides insight into the private practices of alternative culture during the socialist dictatorship. It holds many documents that represent pre-communist cultural heritage, as well as private opposition to communist ideology. It illustrates László Lajtha’s correspondence with the Communist Party, and contains many letters, manuscripts, and documents which reflect a critical perspective on the Hungarian communist era.
Budapest Corvin tér 8, Hungary 1011
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Name of collection
- Lajtha bequest in Hungarian Heritage House
Provenance and cultural activities
Ildikó Lajtha gave László Lajtha’s bequest to the Hungarian Heritage House in 2001.
The bequest was separated in 2013; the folk music collection remained with the Hungarian Heritage House, while the bulk of the composer’s legacy went to the Institute for Musicology.
The folk music collection at the Hungarian Heritage House contains all of the documents connected to László Lajtha’s ethnomusicologist carrier. Lajtha began collecting folk music in Transylvania in the 1910s, and continued his work following the end of the two World Wars. During the socialist era, the Ministry of Education supported the establishment of a folk music reseach group led by László Lajtha. Lajtha’s close associate, ethnographer Zsuzsanna Erdélyi, named this group Noah’s Ark, because of their cooperation with marginalized persons including religious nuns and members of former aristocratic families.The group regularly collected folk music, especially in the territory of Transdanubia.In the 1950s, Lajtha’s previous collections, such as the Széki Collection (Széki gyűjtés), were published. Lajtha’s research group used these works as exmaples of how to document peasant culture. They also used collecting methods similar to Lajtha’s, and their collections demonstrate a continuation of earlier documentation techniques. Folk culture appeared in a special context during socialism, and it was hoped that it would provide a base for a new, mass culture. Lajtha’s folk collection exemplifies that, in spite of any intentions to shape culture in ideological terms during socialism, researchers were able to find aspects of traditional peasant culture which had been passed down from generation to generation.
Description of content
László Lajtha’s folk music collection contains many personal objects: furniture, musical instruments, pictures, photos, and books. His letters are of particular interest. He wrote to his sons, who did not live in Hungary, his wife, and friends abroad. Lajtha stayed in London with his family in 1947–48, devoting himself solely to composing. After 1948, when he returned to Hungary, he declared his hostility to the communist rule and was forbidden from traveling, after which he maintained a relationship with his sons through correspondence. He had several foreign friends and colleagues who regularly wrote to him, and whose letters he responded to. These documents demonstrate Lajtha’s cultural resistance as he consistently wrote about the new possibilities for him in Hungary. The books in the collection reflect his interests. There are also many manuscripts contained in the collection that include notes, scientific works etc.The folk music collection presents Lajtha’s ethnomusicologist career from the 1910s until his death in 1963.
- furniture: 10-99
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- other artworks (that cannot be classified by other filter categories such as paintings, sculptures, graphics, etc.): 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Budapest Corvin tér 8, Hungary
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Vámos, Gabriella
Berlász, Melinda. Lajtha László. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1984.
Erdélyi, Zsuzsanna. A kockás füzet. Úttalan utakon Lajtha Lászlóval. Budapest: Hagyományok Háza, 2010.
Pálóczy Krisztina. "A Lajtha-csoport és a Néprajzi Múzeum Népzene Osztályának fénykora". Ethnographia 124, no. 4. (2013): 545-562.
Solymosi Tari, Emőke. Két világ közt. Beszélgetések Lajtha Lászlóról. Budapest: Hagyományok Háza, 2010.
Solymosi Tari, Emőke. Lajtha László, a nemzeti és nemzetiközi mester. (Az életút összefoglalása és arcképvázlat). http://lajtha.hagyomanyokhaza.hu/index.php?menu=517