Monday, May 05, 2003


This year marks the 80th birthday of the remarkable Hungarian contemporary composer, György Ligeti. His works are well highlighted at this season’s BBC Proms season, with ‘Lux Aeterna’ (best known for its role in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’) and two comic operas, ‘Adventures’ and ‘Nouvelles Adventures’, being the standout events. The full roster is ‘Six Bagatelles’ and ‘Ten Pieces’ (21 July); ‘Lontano’ (31 July); ‘Horn Trio’ (4 August); ‘San Francisco Polyphony’, ‘Adventures’, ‘Nouvelles Adventures’ (8 August); and ‘Lux Aeterna’ (14 August).

Braunarts' extraordinary 'György Ligeti Site' is well worth a visit if you haven't come across it yet: full of insight and imagination. See also the Ensemble Modern site (in German, translated amusingly in English here). 'The Ligeti Project III' is reviewed at Book.Nu. The last major celebration of the man's work in Britain was 'Clouds and Clocks' around 1997 at the Barbican Centre, if I recall correctly.

Canada's excellent national new music programme, Two New Hours has a good Ligeti feature. They comment: "Perhaps the most notorious example of Ligeti's interest in shifting densities of sound is his 'Poeme Symphonique' (1962), which is scored for an orchestra of 100 metronomes. Ove Nordwall has observed how this work "proved fruitful in a later stylistic development: the superposition of different metres to produce sound of perpetual change in rhythm and colour, related to a scheme of interval changes. This was the formal principle in 'Continuum' (1968) for harpsichord, in the second organ study, 'Coulee' (1969), and also in several movements from larger works. The obsession with time-counting is evident in 'Clocks and Clouds' (1972-73), where metronome sounds are gradually transformed into misty images."

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