Lessons in Ligeti

Jenny Lin's performed All-Ligeti program for her North River Music Concert. Take a minute to learn exactly what that means.

Written between 1985 and 2001, Ligeti’s Études pour piano (Book I, 1985; Book II, 1988–94; Book III, 1995–2001) are considered by many as the best piano works of the last 50 years.

Combining virtuoso technical problems with new ideas, they draw from such diverse sources as gamelan; Thelonious Monk, one of his favorite jazz pianists; African poly-rhythms; Bartók, Conlon Nancarrow; and Bill Evans. Jenny Lin performed Etudes No. 1,3,4,7,8,11,13,16,17, and 18.

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert talks about Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre.

John Mangum, Artistic Administrator at the New York Philharmonic discusses Ligeti's Piano Concerto. GH Music Director Menon Dwarka recommends this for a great introduction to Ligeti’s piano style. The concerto was written around the same time as the first book of etudes, which Jenny will play.

This piece highlights all of the main concepts that interested Ligeti in the etudes, but cast as a concerto instead of solo works. This provides a nice introduction to his later work without giving away what Jenny will do on Thursday.

A performance of Ligeti's violin concerto.

About Ligeti

Born in Transylvania, Romania, György Ligeti (1923-2006) is a renowned composer. He studied with Ferenc Farkas in Klausenburg and Sandor Veress in Budapest, and was a lecturer at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music (1950-56) before fleeing Hungary in 1956 to work in the electronics studio of the WDR, Cologne. He subsequently taught at the Darmstadt Summer courses and the Stockholm Academy of Music, was a DAAD-scholar in Berlin, and composer-in-residence at Stanford University, California. In 1973 he became Professor of Composition at Hamburg Musikhochschule and caused a considerable sensation with his works for orchestra, Apparitions (1958-59) and Atmospheres (1961). Atmosphères (1961), along with Requiem (1963-65) and Lux aeterna (1966), was chosen by Stanley Kubrick to be included in the soundtrack for his film 2001 - A Space Odyssey.

In the 1980s, Ligeti developed a new polyrhythmic composition technique which led to the highly complex polyphony of his Piano-Etudes (1985) and his Piano Concerto (1985-88). Ligeti is a fellow of the Order Pour le mérite for Science and Arts and has won numerous prizes including the Grawemeyer Award in 1986. He was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society and was winner of the Praemium Imperiale, Tokyo in 1991.

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