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Gyorgy Ligeti

One of the great 20th century composers, dead today in Vienna at age 83. When I was first getting interested in serious music back in high school, I was drawn to the avant garde. Ligeti was an immediate interest because of his contributions to 2001, A Space Odyssey. Frequently I had this LP out of the Brookpark Public Library, along with Le Sacre, and whatever else I could find to stimulate my eager mind.

The massed choral and orchestral sounds, of shifting tone clusters in various combinations, it Atmospheres and similar works were fascinating. He experimented with a wide variety of non-traditional sounds, from the most subtle to the most outré; the brass section in one work simply blows air through their horns, while using different fingering combinations; a percussionist is instructed to throw a platter of china against the wall.

If you get the chance, revisit 2001. Or seek out some of the wide variety. The Requiem, or Continuum for harpsichord (an unbelievable piece of keyboard writing). A few years back Teldec released “The Ligeti Edition,” an ongoing series of his works. Any one would be a worthwhile ticket.

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