Ludmila Frajt

From Unearthing The Music

Ludmila Frajt. Photo courtesy of the family - Hristine Medić

Ludmila Frajt (December 31, 1919 – March 14, 1999) was a Yugoslav and Serbian composer. She wrote choral, orchestral and chamber works, music for films and radio-dramas, electro-acoustic works, as well as music for children. for which she won numerous awards.


Ludmila (Lida) Frajt was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to a family of musicians. Her father Jovan (Jan) Frajt, born in 1882 in Plzen (nowadays in Czech Republic), settled in Serbia in 1903. He worked as a violinist, organist, conductor, composer and music publisher. He founded a publishing house, Edition Frajt, in Belgrade. After his death in 1938, his son Stevan Frajt, also a musician, continued to run this family business.

Ludmila Frajt received her first music lessons at home; then she attended the Belgrade Music School, where one of her teachers was Josip Slavenski. In 1938 she enrolled to study composition at the newly founded Belgrade Music Academy (today the Faculty of Music), with Miloje Milojević. Her studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. After the country was liberated, she resumed her studies. However, her professor Milojević died in 1946, and therefore she graduated from Josip Slavenski's class as the first female graduate in composition. (Another prominent Serbian female composer, Ljubica Marić, was educated in Prague).

Aside from their professional relationship, Frajt and Slavenski also developed a close personal friendship, with Slavenski and his wife Milana Ilić serving as witnesses at Ludmila Frajt's wedding to Mile Franović. Unfortunately, Franović was killed at the Syrmian Front, only three years after they got married. After this tragedy, the young widow never remarried.

From 1946 to 1952, Ludmila Frajt was Head of the Music Department at Avala Film; from 1952 to 1958 she was a Deputy Music Editor at Radio Belgrade; and then, from 1958 until retirement, she was the Secretary of the Music Committee of Yugoslav Radio-Television (ЈРТ) in Belgrade. Aside from composing, she was also involved with ethnographic research, and she avidly collected archaic folk instruments.

Ludmila was also active in organizing concerts in Belgrade for many years. She was the conceptual creator of Radio Belgrade's public concerts, featuring artists such as Zubin Mehta, Dmitry Bashkirov, Christian Feras, Julius Kitschen and others.

For her work, Ludmila Fright was repeatedly honored with awards for works for children, and was the recipient of the Mokranjac Award and a two-time winner of the Yugoslav Radio and Television Award.

She died of natural causes in Belgrade, aged 80.

Personal style

Initially, Frajt's style revolved around a combination of impressionistic sound world, inspired by French composers, and her desire to study and utilise the deepest layers of folklore. This desire was identified and cultivated during her studies with Milojević and Slavenski. After World War II, instead of succumbing to the official demand to write music in accordance with the doctrine of Socialist Realism, Frajt turned to studying Serbian folklore. However, her compositions from this period are not based on quotations of folk music.

In 1960s and 1970s Frajt studied and assimilated the latest compositional techniques of the European musical avant-garde – in particular, aleatorics, the idea of 'open-work' and various multimedia experiments. She mixed and merged these with her already established interest in folklore, rituals and antiquity. Her tendency to employ unusual, quasi-archaic instruments and naturalistic sound effects is notable; some of her works are scored for instruments such as folk pipes, silver spoons and children's toys.

Ludmila Frajt is a pioneer of female writing in the domain of Serbian music. Her discourse is characterised by its chamber qualities, lyricism and subtlety, which can be seen both in the choice of genres and performing forces, and in her compositional procedures. Furthermore, she was fascinated with a female voice (both in solo and choral settings), and she often wrote 'female' vocal genres such as lullaby and threnody.

Important works

  • 1953-65 - Five Preludes for harp
  • 1965 - A Strange Musician, symphonic story for children (lyrics by Desanka Maksimović)
  • 1966 - A Musician and Birds, rhapsody for clarinet and orchestra
  • 1967 - Asteroids, electro-acoustic music
  • 1969 - Farewell Songs for mixed chorus (lyrics from folk poetry)
  • 1970 - Songs of the Night, cantata for female chorus and chamber orchestra (lyrics: composer's own)[2]
  • 1971 - Lullaby for soprano and children's toys
  • 1972 - Silver Sounds for string quartet and silver spoons
  • 1973 - Threnody for female chorus
  • 1975 - Еclogue for wind quintet, strings and percussion
  • 1975 - Nocturne, electro-acoustic music
  • 1979 - Figures in Motion, electro-acoustic music
  • 1981 - Bells for mixed chorus and tape (lyrics by Zvonimir Brkić)
  • 1982 - Music for 13 String Instruments

Content partially adapted from Wikipedia