Hungarian music historiography traditionally regards the dispute about „new Hungarian music” as a contest between conservative and progressive aesthetic views. However, the artistic problem of the Hungarian intelligentsia in the interwar period were more complex. They had tasks such as synchronizing modernism and nationalism, harmonising 19th century ideals and 20th century compositional ideas and redefining the criteria of the national musical-cultural canon.
The musicologist Bence Szabolcsi created an influential theory on peasant music inspired symphonic style already in the 1920s. He supported Kodály in his articles and he had a conscious intention to establish a new school of Hungarian music. As a young man Szabolcsi created a future oriented golden age theory based on his belief that the classical era was the absolute peak of European music. He made a diff erence between artistic creation (as a reflection of divine creation) and consciuos composition, classicism and romanticism, culture and civilization, and he regarded the latter categories as the signs of perilous European decadence from which there is no other choice but a „new classicism”, that is a „new testament”. Young Szabolcsi thought „new Hungarian music” could be the new and only path leading back to God, to culture, to music.