Monday, June 12, 2006

In Memorium, Central European Renaissance Composer Gyorgy Ligeti, 1923 - 2006

... "Gyorgy Ligeti was born in 1923 to Hungarian parents in the predominantly ethnic Hungarian part of Romania's Transylvania region. His father and brother later were murdered by the Nazis. He took Austrian citizenship after fleeing his ex-communist homeland and became known for "[Le Grand] Macabre," which he wrote in 1978.

He began studying music under Ferenc Farkas at the conservatory in Cluj [-Napoca], Romania, in 1941, and continued his studies in Budapest. But in 1943, he was arrested as a Jew and sentenced to forced labor for the rest of World War II.

After the war, Ligeti resumed his studies with Farkas and Sandor Veress at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy. After graduation in 1949, he did research on Romanian folk music before returning to the academy as an instructor in harmony, counterpoint, and formal analysis.

Ligeti's early work was heavily censored by Hungary's repressive regime, but his arrival in Vienna in 1956 opened up new possibilities.

In the Austrian capital, he met key players in Western Europe's avant-garde music movement such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gottfried Michael Koenig and Herbert Eimert, who invited him to join an electronic music studio at West Germany's state radio in Cologne in 1957.

... He gained notoriety for a technique he called "micropolyphony," which wove together musical color and texture in ways that transcended the traditional borders of melody, harmony and rhythm.

Ligeti spoke at least six languages, including his native Hungarian, German, French, and English ...

"He reintroduced techniques of polyphony out of the tradition of Bach and Palestrina with a playful and innovative sense of sound. He developed a new sound -- cluster sound -- which fascinated [film director Stanley] Kubrick and propelled Ligeti to the top of the great composers of the second half of the 20th century" [said Stephen Ferguson, who worked as his assistant and editor at Schott Music from 1992-96]. "Gyorgy Ligeti, known for '2001' music, dead" June 12, 2006

Image credit: With thanks.


The Braunarts Multi-media Ligeti Site:


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