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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » L » Ligeti, Gyorgy

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Gyorgy Ligeti (5/28/1923 - 6/12/2006)

Of Hungarian-Jewish origin, Ligeti made his career in Hungary until 1956, when he escaped to Vienna. There he was influenced by contact with more experimental Western techniques of composition, notably through work at the electronic studios in Cologne. His music now achieved a wider international reputation, incorporating contemporary techniques and experiment in a musical idiom that has proved both influential and palatable.


Ligeti’s 1977 opera Le Grand Macabre, set in a land derived from the paintings of Breughel, is an allusive work, drawing on a variety of sources from Monteverdi to Beethoven and opening with a motor-horn prelude.

Orchestral Music

It was with compositions such as Apparitions in 1959 and Atmosphères in 1961, the latter a 48-part mirror canon, that Ligeti began to win a wider reputation. Other orchestral works that aroused interest included a Chamber Concerto for 13 instruments, the Cello Concerto and the Concerto for flute, oboe and strings. Lontano, written in 1967, has a place in contemporary repertoire, along with Ramifications for 12 strings and San Francisco Polyphony. He also wrote concertos for piano, for violin and for French horn.

Chamber Music

In the second of his string quartets Ligeti made a strong impression, while his Ten Pieces for wind quintet allow a degree of individual virtuosity to the players.

Keyboard Music



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