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Ligeti, György (Sándor)locked

  • Paul Griffiths

Extract

(b Dicsőszentmárton [Diciosânmartin, now Tîrnăveni], Transylvania, 28 May 1923; d Vienna, 12 June 2006). Hungarian composer. After being exposed to two tyrannies in his youth, Nazi and Stalinist, he left Hungary following the 1956 Russian suppression of his country’s independence and found himself, in western Europe, confronted by another stern ideology, that of the Darmstadt-Cologne avant garde. The effect was twofold. He was liberated to pursue long-cherished ideals of musical advance, but at the same time his critical, contrary spirit was sharpened. Unlike many of his young colleagues in the west, he was suspicious of system, rejoiced in the delightfulness and evocativeness of sound, and steadily reintroduced – though in quite new ways, guided by an exact ear – things that serial orthodoxy had refused, such as simple harmonies, ostinatos and palpable melodies. Just when this process of recuperation might have led him, in the early 1980s, to join the new dominant movement of postmodernist collage and retrospect, he found further stimulation and contradiction in non-European musical cultures, especially Caribbean, central African and East Asian. Always paradoxical, he found this music of the world enhancing his sense of himself as musically a Hungarian, and began to publish or republish many of the compositions he had written decades earlier....

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