Our music for this week comes from the work of the highly-regarded Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti.
Ligeti, a descendant of the legendary violinist Leopold Auer (the teacher of Heifetz), was born in Hungary but lived most of his life in Austria as a conservatory professor. He left Hungary during its Communist occupation, having realized that he would never be able to create music to his full potential if he remained there. Ligeti is considered to be of the foremost pioneers in modern music and was one of the first composers to advanced chromatics, purist tonal systems, and polyrhythm. The fact that he is often mentioned in the same sentence as the great Nicholas Cage indicates his significant musical stature. To his death, he remained an impressively well-rounded individual. He was a devoted reader and writer, a lover of philosophy, a learner of African languages (which he found infinitely fascinating), a painter, an architect, and an obsessed pupil of Mandelbrot’s fractal geometrics.
Here are a couple of things to listen for in this unique composition:
– recurring themes (he based the Concerto off of Romanian folk tunes from his childhood)
– the transitions from movement to movement (or the lack thereof 😉
– the unique sound of the French Horns in the third movement (Ligeti instructed them to use what is called “natural tuning,” which means that they are playing without their usual valves).