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Ligeti Conference 2012

ligeti

Friday 30th March 2012 at Senate House, London University (Institute of Musical Research http://music.sas.ac.uk/ ). Focusing on Ligeti's later music. Speakers will include: Prof Richard Steinitz, Prof. Jane Clendinning, Prof. Peter Wiegold, Dr. Amy Bauer, Dr. Wolfgang Marx, Dr John Cucuirean, Dr. Stephen Taylor and Dr Mike Searby. Ian Pace will be giving a lecture recital on Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and Peter Wiegold will be running a analysis workshop for student composers. The conference will end with a performance of Ligeti's Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes. See below attachments of the conference abstracts and the details.

Friday 30th March 2012 in Chancellor’s Hall at Senate House, London University under the auspices of the Institute of Musical Research

Speakers will include: Prof Richard Steinitz, Prof. Jane Clendinning, Prof. Peter Wiegold, Dr.Wolfgang Marx, Dr John Cucuirean, Dr. Stephen Taylor and Dr Mike Searby.

Ian Pace will be giving a lecture recital on Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and Peter Wiegold will be
running a analysis workshop for student composers.

The conference will end with a performance of Ligeti's Poème Symphonique for 100
metronomes and will run 10am-6pm

read more

Hemiola, Maximal Evenness, and Metric Ambiguity in Late Ligeti by Stephen Taylor
(University of Illinois, Urbana)

The Cosmopolitan Imagination in Ligeti’s Late Works by Amy Bauer (University of California,
Irvine)

An Overview of Ligeti’s Sketches by Professor Richard Steinitz (Huddersfield University)
Keynote speaker:

“How I wonder what you’re at!” The Nonsense Madrigals in the Context of Ligeti’s Late Style
by Wolfgang Marx (University College Dublin)

The future or the past?:Ligeti’s stylistic eclecticism in his Hamburg Concerto by Mike Searby
(Kingston University)

Aspects of Harmonic Structure, Voice Leading, and Aesthetic Function in György Ligeti's In
zart fliessender Bewegung by John D. Cuciurean (University of Western Ontario)

After the Opera (and the End of the World), What Now? By Jane Piper Clendinning (Florida
State University)

Conference fee £25 for non-students; £10 for full-time students or unwaged (including tea and
coffee)

For more details see:
https://sites.google.com/site/ligeticomposer/home

Or Contact Mike Searby on m.searby@kingston.ac.uk

Ligeti Conference: IMR 30th March 2012: Paper Abstracts

Hemiola, Maximal Evenness, and Metric Ambiguity in Late Ligeti by Stephen Taylor (University of Illinois, Urbana)

Polyrhythms in Ligeti’s late music tend to fall into two categories: those which superimpose several different tempo streams (“generalized hemiolas”), and those which draw from sub-Saharan African or Aksak rhythms. These two devices can be compared from the perspective of maximal evenness: while hemiola-based rhythms tend to be less even than sub-Saharan and Aksak rhythms, certain rhythms can combine elements of both generalized hemiola and maximal evenness. This paper looks at some of the rhythms in Ligeti's three late concerti, and compares them with work done by the ethnomusicologist Simha Arom and the computational music theorist Godfried Toussaint, in an attempt to arrive at a synthesis of hemiola and maximal evenness.

 

The Cosmopolitan Imagination in Ligeti’s Late Works by Amy Bauer (University of California, Irvine)

 

As Esa-Pekka Salonen notes, György Ligeti (1923-2006) “was the most cosmopolitan of composers, but, paradoxically, he remained very clearly defined in terms of his roots and language.” This apparent paradox reflects Ligeti’s conflicting cultural identities as a Hungarian Jew raised in a Romanian Orthodox community, who later moved to Austria and Germany. As a “rooted” cosmopolitan and survivor of Nazi and Soviet occupations, Ligeti retained an inherent idealism that reached back to Kant’s notion of a cosmopolitan, universal future, albeit one tempered by nostalgia and fatalism.

The harmonic, formal and affective character of Ligeti’s late works especially express a kind of guarded idealism that welcomes the influence of other cultures and arts, and include polyrhythms, scordatura–or in the case of the late Études for piano, imaginary –tunings, the inclusion of folk instruments, chord progressions based on harmonic spectra and fanciful narratives. Ligeti’s final vocal work, the song cycle Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel for soprano and percussion ensemble(2000), returns to the verse of the Hungarian poet Sándor Weöres and the literary ideals outlined in the poet’s critical writings. Both poems and settings exist primarily in the “cosmopolitan imagination,”a form of cultural contestation distinct from mere pluralism or hybridity.Hence the songs of Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel strive for a transformative moment, despite their awareness that uncertainty will always be with us, the theme of Weöres’s 1945 work on poetics, “Towards the Absolute.”

 

 

 

An Overview of Ligeti’s Sketches by Professor Richard Steinitz (Huddersfield University) Keynote speaker:

 

Ligeti's known surviving manuscripts and sketches have all been available to study for a decade. Although incomplete, they are a remarkably comprehensive collection, which has so far received mainly selective attention. This paper examines their extent, what they reveal about the genesis of Ligeti's music, his composing methods and changing concerns and interests throughout his life. It will be illustrated with examples from the Paul Sacher Foundation and other collections.

 

“How I wonder what you’re at!” The Nonsense Madrigals in the Context of Ligeti’s Late Style

by Wolfgang Marx (University College Dublin)

The Nonsense Madrigals have so far not been at the centre of Ligeti scholarship. The set of six vocal pieces for “The King’s Singers” was written while the composer was also working on the much weightier Violin Concerto and the second book of the Piano Études. Apart from a German PhD dissertation on the composer’s late choral works from 1998, the Madrigals find a rather cursory mentioning in the literature. This paper will investigate how the concept of ambiguity, Ligeti’s most basic compositional principle that unites all his stylistic periods, is represented by these pieces, and how they relate to the instrumental compositions written at the same time. Another aspect to be discussed will be the representation of humour and the grotesque in these works, which relates back to earlier compositions like Le Grand Macabre or Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures. In the Nonsense Madrigals Ligeti’s fascination with nonsensical texts, word play and irony engage in a most fruitful way with his then preoccupation with the rhythmic complexities of sub-Saharan polyphony and the isorhythm of the Ars Nova.

 

The future or the past?:Ligeti’s stylistic eclecticism in his Hamburg Concerto by Mike Searby (Kingston University)

 

The Hamburg Concerto is the last major work Ligeti completed before his death in 2006. This composition has innovative elements but also shows many features from his earlier music, such as a focus upon texture, timbre and micro-tunings. Ligeti’s later music from the opera Le Grand Macabre (1974-78) onwards demonstrates a much more eclectic approach to compositional technique, and shows influences from Sub-Saharan music; the music of the American composer Conlon Nancarrow; and embracing elements of the music of the past.

The most distinctive aspect of the Hamburg Concerto is its use of natural harmonics in the solo and quartet of natural horns. These harmonics, when combined both together, and with equal tempered instruments, produce ‘dirty’ harmonies which Ligeti has often exploited in his music. Ligeti comments that “these harmonies, which have never been used before, sound ‘weird’ in relation to harmonic spectra.”

The Hamburg Concerto is a bewildering array of highly characterised short, sketch-like movements exploring many of Ligeti’s styles from throughout his life. Although the work is apparently in seven movements, movements 2, 3, and 4 are divided into three or four clear sections – thus the work is really in 14 movements over 15 minutes. There is almost no real development of the material, and the ideas are exposed very briefly before the movement ends. This approach is reminiscent of that used by Ligeti in his three books of piano Études (1985-2001) in which each short étude is self-contained with one basic musical idea. The variety of styles explored include very static sustained music in the “Praeludium” which strongly hints at Ligeti’s earlier micropolyphonic works. In “Capriccio” he quotes his poignant ‘lament motive’ which consists of a descending chromatic line used in other earlier works such as the Horn Trio and the Piano Concerto. The final movement “Hymnus” creates a shatteringly dissonant climax through gradually evolving towards very loud and close microtonal harmony in the horns.

This paper will examine movements from the Hamburg Concerto in detail to demonstrate the contrasting compositional approaches Ligeti takes, which shows refreshingly new ideas alongside those of the past.

 

1Aspects of Harmonic Structure, Voice Leading, and Aesthetic Function in György Ligeti's In zart fliessender Bewegung by John D. Cuciurean (University of Western Ontario)

 

In this paper I investigate the nature and origin of the harmonic structure and canonic voice leading that appears in the closing measures of the third piece from György Ligeti’s Three Pieces for Two Pianos, In zart fliessender Bewegung (In a gentle flowing movement); specifically the chorale-like coda beginning at measure 52 which concludes both the piece and the entire cycle. I begin by discussing Ligeti’s sketches for Bewegung which reveal that the coda was conceived as a deliberate eight-voiced mirror canon that incorporates a quasi-derived series based upon chromatic scalar lines in contrary motion. Extrapolating from the coda, and using additional evidence from his sketches, I trace the pitch-structural relationships between the coda and the melodic fragments that emerge from the complex surface texture in the main body of Bewegung. Then, by briefly exploring intertextual relationships between the harmonic and voice-leading features of this piece and selected middle- and late-period pieces by Ligeti, I suggest how the compositional approach in Bewegung serves as a bridge between his so-called middle and late styles. I conclude this paper by considering how aesthetic function and musical meaning in this piece are inherently intertwined with the intertextual relationships that exist within Ligeti’s oeuvre from at least the early-1960s to the beginning of the present century.

 

After the Opera (and the End of the World), What Now? By Jane Piper Clendinning (Florida State University)

 

Following the premiere of Le Grand Macabre in 1978, György Ligeti faced a compositional crisis: how to proceed? The opera had taken him far from his compositional styles of the 1960s and early 70s, but the way forward to the piano concerto he wished to compose next was not clear. Seven years would pass from the opera to the first book of piano etudes, followed at last by the completion of the concerto. In the interim, Ligeti composed only three significant works: the Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano (1982) and two sets of songs for sixteen-part unaccompanied chorus. This paper will examine the songs, Ligeti’s first settings of poetic texts since the 1950s. The Drei Phantasiennach Friedrich Hölderlin (1982) feature many of the compositional techniques Ligeti developed in the 1960s and 70s, but the techniques are integrated and layered to a degree not evident in previous works, motivated by the poetic phrasing, rhythm, and meaning of the Hölderlin texts. In the Magyar Etüdok (1983), Ligeti returns to texts by Sándor Weores, whose poems he set in the 1940s and 50s in Budapest, but he also explores rhythmic features that would become characteristic of his late style.

 

Conference fee £25 for non-students; £10 for full-time students or unwaged (including tea and/span