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György Ligeti1923 - 2006


THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13/6/2006 --- Fastidious and self-critical, Mr. Ligeti demanded high standards from those around him. But where he felt sympathy, he could be open, warm and generous. He knew his worth, but he did not make that a barrier between himself and life or let it dampen his curiosity. (...) "I am in a prison," he once explained. "One wall is the avant-garde, the other is the past. I want to escape." (...) As a man who grew up in Hungary under German and Soviet tyrannies, when home was exactly where you did not want to be, who moved to Western Europe after the Russians extinguished Hungarian independence, and who had been footloose ever since, Mr. Ligeti had no simple notion of where he belonged, and this feeling informed his work. (...) What, Mr. Ligeti asked himself, is being expressed here: "Nostalgia for a homeland that no longer exists?" And there he put his finger on something: home is not just a place, but also a time.
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THE GUARDIAN, 14/6/2006 --- (...) it mattered a great deal to Ligeti that his works should be understood. That stimulated him to be a compelling apologist, articulate and amusing about what was to be heard, referring to himself (often in the third person) with a total lack of dogma, as if the composition was a phenomenon he was examining. (...) His inventiveness and subtlety of mind never left him, in the domain of rhythm particularly. He was fired by ideas drawn from literature, the visual arts, the sciences, the psychology of perception, fractal mathematics, puzzles, chaos theory, complex decoration; and when it came to instrumental techniques - the more rhythmically interesting the better - he was a magpie, making what attracted him his own.
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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 13/6/2006 --- Mr. Ligeti's restless spirit and intellectual curiosity led him to explore a variety of musical paths, from electronic music and microtonality to African rhythms and evocations of medieval and 19th century music. And although he was associated with the postwar generation of modernist composers that included Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, he retained a lifelong skepticism about serialism, the dominant musical technique of that school. (...) Instead, Mr. Ligeti regarded each successive composition as an opportunity to explore or invent new solutions to new artistic problems, as often as not turning in a different direction once each piece was complete.
Read the entire article at www.sfgate.com

TELEGRAPH, 13/6/2006 --- Like Stravinsky, he could assume all kinds of borrowed musical guises yet remain completely himself. (...) Ligeti believed that composers could not divorce themselves from musical tradition: "All new art follows a chain of tradition," he told an interviewer in 1996. "You can't escape it. When I arrived in the West people were obsessed with the dilemma '12-note or not 12-note?' Everyone was asking what path music could possibly take after Boulez and Stockhausen. I am immodest enough to say that with Atmosphères I showed it was possible to do something completely different. I cannot understand this idea that 'you have avant-garde and you have this post-modern neo-tonal stuff' as if these were the only possibilities and there could be no third way. There are always a hundred ways. You just have to find them."

THE INDEPENDENT, 13/6/2006 --- His innovations in all the departments of musical technique - counterpoint, harmony, deployment of melodies and metrics - were influential, if dangerous to imitate. His human fortitude was an example - having survived appalling political hazards in his twenties and early thirties, he was doomed to live with chronic illness from his early fifties. The great example he sets, though, is purely compositional: he showed that it was possible to use the new resources of 20th-century music in ways that were profoundly original yet comprehensible to anyone with an intelligent ear. His music combines searching intensity with diaphonous and witty texture. Exemplifying what is thought of as quintessentially avant-garde, it is nevertheless irresistible.
Read the entire article at http://news.independent.co.uk

THE GUARDIAN, 13/6/2006 --- Tributes from friends and colleagues poured in last night. Ivan Fischer, director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, told the Hungarian state news agency that the country had lost "the most significant composer of the post-Bartok era", adding: "Ligeti was an avant garde, definitely modern composer who did the most for renewing the musical language in the second half of the 20th century." Stephen Ferguson, who worked as his assistant and editor at Schott Music in the 1990s, said Ligeti was "one of the few avant garde composers who found his way into the modern programme", and a master of soundscapes.
Read the entire article at http://arts.guardian.co.uk