László Lajtha (30 June 1892 – 16 February 1963), Hungarian composer and folk music researcher, was accepted into the preparatory class for piano at the Music Academy in Budapest in 1907. In 1909, along with his instrument courses, he also began learning composition, where he studied with Zoltán Kodály in his first year, before obtaining his diploma under Viktor Herzfeld in July 1913. In the autumn of 1910, he was briefly a participant in Béla Bartók’s piano class at the Academy. Similar to Bartók and Kodály, folk music played an important part in Lajtha’s life as a researcher and composer, and he set off on his first tour of collecting music in 1911 at the behest of Bartók. During his years at the Music Academy, he also briefly studied abroad in Leipzig, Geneva and Paris. All of these impressions had a significant influence on his perspective as a composer: Lajtha’s works were a unique blend of the pieces written by Bartók around 1910, French musical styles and Hungarian folk music.
From 1919 until its termination, for almost 30 years Lajtha was a member of the faculty of the National Conservatory and briefly headed the institution during the Second World War. In 1939, he introduced and instructed the subject Hungarian folk music at the Music School. The legendary detail of his notes on folk music and existing recordings formed the foundations for the Hungarian popular folk dancing movement which emerged in the 1970s. He developed a very detailed methodology for recording folk dances and also stressed the need for video recordings of the dances. He received the gold Kossuth Award in 1951 and was elected a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1955. From his later works, his string quartets and symphonies deserve mention.
Since 2013, the collection of Lajtha’s work is housed at the Institute of Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In that same year, a room commemorating Lajtha was opened at the Music History Museum, with a reconstruction of the original furnishing of Lajtha’s office from his flat in the Váci utca.
To mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of László Lajtha, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank is issuing a 5,000-forint silver and a 2,000-forint non-ferrous commemorative coin.
The front of the coin depicts a couple folk dancing in dynamic motion with musicians visible in the background, recalling Lajtha’s research on the subjects of both folk dancing and folk music. The mark of the coin’s designer, Andrea Horváth, are incorporated into the double bass.
The main motif on the back of the coin is the portrait of the composer, inspired by his depiction in the 1961 publication Quelques ouvres. The back of the coin was designed by Balázs Pelcz, whose mark is found on Lajtha’s clothes, at shoulder level.
Denomination Quality Metal Issue limit Diameter Weight
5000 HUF Proof .925 silver 5,000 30 mm 12.5 g