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  • 1 Institute for Musicology, Táncsics Mihály u. 7., H-1014 Budapest, Hungary
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The gains from the folk music collection movement initiated by Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály in the first decade of the twentieth century set a path for Hungarian music theory that continued to influence the approach to composition in later decades. Placing folklore material in composed, classical works is complicated by tonal and formal problems and by political overtones. For quotations or thematic material from folk music may introduce complex implications and associations. So the way a composer imbues folk music calls for more than mere technical skill – it embodies an artistic statement. This article analyzes two works by the Hungarian composer and ethnomusicologist László Lajtha (1892–1963): his string quartets nos. 7 and 10 completed in the early 1950s. Through these two quartets I attempt to fathom the aesthetic, ideological and personal motives behind Lajtha's use of folk material in classical composition. Analysis of the composing process involved and the reception the two works received reveal the manifold scope that folk music brings as a source of inspiration.