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Fran Lhotka — The Question of Folk Music in Film

The paper presents an analysis of the film music for the two feature films, music composed by the Croatian composer of Czech origin, Fran Lhotka.

During the 19th century there was an influx of foreign musicians in Croatia, and they have a crucial influence on the development of musical culture in Croatia. At the beginning of 20th century, the trend has continued, and one of the foreigners was a Czech Fran Lhotka. Born December 25. 1883. in Czech village Mlada Vožice near Prague, he graduated horn and composition in Prague (Antonin Dvorak was one of his teachers), worked as a professor in Ekaterinoslav, and in 1909 he came by invitation in Zagreb, starting as a professor in Musical School in Zagreb. He stayed in Croatia to the end of his life (Zagreb, 1962), teaching, and prolifically composing (symphonies, instrumental concerts, several ballets and two operas), importantly contributing to the Croatian music life. In late forties and in fifties he also composed music for three feature films and four documentaries. His work was characterized by musical criticism as neonational style, imbued with the Croatian folk quotations and folk stylizations.

But viewing again his music for the two feature films People Will Survive (1947) and The Master of His Own Body (1957) has shown that Lothka’s treatment of folk music is highly flexible and not taken as obligatory at all. The four modes of the use of folk music in the two films was found: (a) stylization that tend to be close to the original folk music, (b) stylization of folk elements in a free manner, (c) symphonic treatment of folklore motives and (d) combination of stylized folk music and stylized partizan songs. In addition to the use of folk motives, Lhotka freely abandoned any folk reminiscences where it was not significant to have them. The musical value of his film scores is high and his music very effective element in films, so the popularity of The Master of His Own Body owe much to the music also.

Irena Paulus

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