György Ligeti

GYÖRGY LIGETI (1923, Dicsöszentmárton, Romania) studied composition under Sándor Veress and Ferenc Farkas at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. From 1950 to 1956 he lectured there on the theory of music. From 1957 to 1958 he lived in Cologne, working in the electronic studio of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. In 1959 he settled in Vienna. In the 1960s he lectured regularly at the Darmstadt Courses and at the Academy of Music in Stockholm. He has directed composition courses in Bilthoven, Essen, Jyväskyla, Tanglewood, Siena, and Aix-en-Provence. From 1959 to 1973 he lived mostly in West Berlin, at first as a holder of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst scholarship. He spent the year 1972 at the University of Stanford in California, as composer-in-residence. Since 1973 he has been professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg. He has received many artistic awards (among others the Beethovenpreis der Stadt Bonn, Berliner Kunstpreis, Bachpreis der Stadt Hamburg, the Prix Maurice Ravel, the Prix Arthur Honegger, and the Grawemeyer Award, etc.). He is a companion of the order Pour le mérite, a member of academies of arts in West Berlin, Hamburg and Munich and an honorary member of the ISCM. Ligeti’s work underwent several modifications. The deciding break occurred after 1956, though he soon realized, that development of Bartók’s idioms would be not the right way for him. He began to experiment with very simple interval and rhythmic structures and created a new method of working as it were from scratch. After leaving for the West he did not accept the serial techniques, but he worked out his own way of the so called net structures, in which single interval and rhythmic patterns act as a part of a rich sound texture. Using clusters and micropolyphony he creates sound objects which appear as functional elements of the so called Klangkomposition (sound composition).

On 9th October 2000 György Ligeti was awarded the Sibelius Prize of the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation in Helsinki, and next year the Kyoto-Prize for Arts and Science for the body of his work. Ligeti was honored with the medal of the senate of the City of Hamburg on his 80th birthday, the City of Frankfurt awarded him the Theodor W. Adorno-Prize on September 2003. In 2004, he will be awarded the Polar Music Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and 2005 Frankfurt Music Prize. The cosmopolitan György Ligeti lives and works in Hamburg and Vienna.

Works (selection): Musica Ricercata, 11 pieces for piano (1951/53), 6 Bagatelles for wind quintet (1953), String Quartet No. 1 ”Métamorphoses nocturnes” (1953 – 1954), Éjszaka (Night) and Reggel (Morning) for a cappella choir (1955), Glissandi, tape (1957), Articulation, tape (1958), Apparitions for orchestra (1958 – 1959), Atmosphères for orchestra (1961), Fragment for chamber orchestra (1961/1964), Trois bagatelles for pianist (1961), Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes (1962), Volumina for organ (1962), Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures for 3 singers and 7 instrumentalists (1962 – 1965), arr. for stage (1966), Requiem for soprano and mezzo-soprano, 2 mixed choirs and orchestra (1963 – 1965), Lux aeterna for 16-voice mixed choir a cappella (1966), Cello Concerto (1966), Lontano for orchestra (1967), Two Etudes for organ (1967 – 1969), Continuum for harpsichord (1968), String Quartet No. 2 (1968), 10 Stücke für Bläserquintett (1968), Ramifications for string orchestra/12 solo strings (1968 – 1969), Melodien for orchestra (1971), Doppelkonzert for flute, oboe and orchestra (1971 – 1972), Clocks and Clouds for 12-part female choir and orchestra (1972 – 1973), San Francisco Polyphony for orchestra (1973 – 1974), Le Grand macabre, opera in 2 acts (1974 – 1977), Monument-Selbstportrait-Bewegung, 3 pieces for 2 pianos (1976), Hungarian Rock for harpsichord (1978), Passacaglia Ungherese for harpsichord (1978), Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano (1982), Hungarian Etudes for a cappella choir (1982), Drei Phantasien nach F. Hölderlin for 16-voice mixed a cappella choir (1983), Études pour piano (1985), Piano Concerto (1985–88), Non sense Madrigals for 6-part choir (1988), Violin Concerto (1990), Loop for viola solo (1991), Macabre Collage, suite for orchestra (arr. Elgar Howarth, 1991), Mysteries of the Macabre for coloratura soprano/solo trumpet and ensemble (arr. Elgar Howarth, 1991) or orchestra (1992), Études pour piano, deuxième livre (1988 – 1993).