Saturday, May 20, 2023 @ 8:00pm – 10:00pm (PDT)
Plymouth Congregational Church, Seattle, WA, United States
Online and in-person
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At door: $25/$20
In advance: $20/$15
Discount: students, seniors, un(der)employed, differently-abled

György Ligeti — Selected works
György LigetiLux Aeterna

Born to Hungarian Jewish parents on 28 May 1923 in Transylvania (then in Romania, now in Hungary), György Ligeti was to become one of the most innovative and influential figures of the avant-garde and contemporary concert music in the latter twentieth century.

Ligeti received his first musical training at the conservatories in Cluj and Budapest, but his education was interrupted by World War II. György was sent to a forced labor camp, his younger brother Gábor as well as his parents were sent to concentration camps.  His mother was the only member of his immediate family to survive. After the war, Ligeti returned to his studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where he studied with Kodály, Bárdos, Farkas, and Veress, and conducted ethnomusicological research of Hungarian folk music. After completing his studies, Ligeti became a professor of harmony, counterpoint, and music analysis at the Liszt Academy from 1950 to 1956. During this time, the communist regime in Hungary restricted all communication outside the Eastern Bloc. Being cut off from the artistic developments in the West further frustrated the young composer.

In later 1956, after the Hungarian uprising was suppressed by the Soviet army, Ligeti fled to Vienna. He left behind many manuscripts of his early works, most of which are now lost. Ligeti consoled himself by claiming that he wasn’t interested in this early work, and only cared about his non-tonal music. After arriving in Vienna, Ligeti then moved to Cologne, where he attended the Darmstadt Institute, and studied with Stockhausen. After three years of being inspired by electronic music, he left it behind, preferring instead to create its textures with acoustic instruments and singers. Ligeti then taught in Stockholm between 1961 and 1971, at Stanford University in 1972, and settled into a post as professor of composition in Hamburg between 1973 and 1989.

In addition to his fascination with micro-polyphony, micro-rhythm, and arhythmic canon, Ligeti was particularly interested in African percussion music, the literature of Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and Douglas Hofstadter, as well as the fractal geometry of Benoit Mandelbrot. Ligeti died on 12 June 2006, and is buried in the Vienna. His musical legacy is carried on by his son Lukas, a composer and percussionist based in South Africa.

Best known in cinematic circles as the composer of Lux aeterna from Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A space odyssey, György Ligeti also wrote music that is featured in 2010, The shining, Eyes wide shut, Shutter Island, Heat, the 2014 remake of Godzilla, The killing of a sacred deer, and the radio series based on The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. His early choral music (from 1946 to 1956) is mostly modal or tonal, inspired by Hungarian folk texts, and is replete with polyphonic patter and verse forms.  Beginning in 1966 with his Lux aeterna, one is able to witness a second stage in Ligeti’s creative life – in which he employs arhythmic canons and modernist tone clusters to create fragmentary fantasies, extraordinary etudes, and a set of post-modern “nonsense songs.”

In this concert, The Esoterics will peform ALL of Ligeti’s music for a cappella mixed chorus – from his earliest work in 1946 to his last in 1993.  Please join us for this extraordinary choral event on the weekend before Ligeti’s 100th birthday!

Plymouth Congregational Church

1217 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
United States