György Ligeti
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/976x549/p01bqt86.jpg
1923-05-28
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/da5e774b-026a-4117-82a4-11d246c05a8b
György Ligeti György Ligeti György Ligeti György Ligeti

Biography

György Ligeti was one of those great pioneering spirits of the post-war era who created whole new ways of devising and perceiving music. Yet, unlike Stockhausen, Boulez and Nono, he had no taste for strident manifestos, disliked ideologies of any ...

Show more

Show biography

Biography

György Ligeti was one of those great pioneering spirits of the post-war era who created whole new ways of devising and perceiving music. Yet, unlike Stockhausen, Boulez and Nono, he had no taste for strident manifestos, disliked ideologies of any kind and preferred to remain unattached to schools or movements.

That quality of being an outsider was instilled very young. Ligeti was born in 1923 into a small Jewish community in a part of Transylvania whose culture was partly Hungarian and partly Romanian. Isolated by anti-Semitism, he took refuge in a rich inner world. He enrolled at the conservatory at Cluj, where he discovered Bartók’s quartets, which influenced him profoundly.

During the war, Ligeti was put into a Jewish forced-labour unit which narrowly avoided being liquidated; his father and brother both perished in concentration camps. After the war, he enrolled at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and later taught there. Ligeti responded to the repressive nature of the Communist regime by going into ‘internal exile’. For public consumption he composed in the official populist style; privately, he was groping his way towards a new musical language. When the Soviets invaded in 1956, Ligeti fled to Austria. From there he went to Cologne, spent six weeks with Stockhausen, and soon established a reputation as a brilliant theorist of new music and the composer of a handful of witty pieces in a medium not noted for its wit: electronics.

What really put him on the map were the orchestral pieces Apparitions (1959) and Atmosphères (1961), which first revealed that beguiling Ligeti world of murmuring textures and sudden, sinister comic shocks. He produced a whole series of works with a Dadaist flavour, including Aventures (1962, rev. 1963) and Nouvelles aventures (1962–5). During the 1960s and 1970s he elaborated his idea of ‘micropolyphony’ in works of ever-increasing aural refinement and emotional amplitude, including the Cello Concerto (1966), the Chamber Concerto (1969–70) and San Francisco Polyphony (1974–7, rev. 1996). His opera Le grand macabre (1978) transformed and satirised numerous other musics, from Monteverdi to Wagner.

After a creative hiatus, the Horn Trio (1982) announced a new direction, with complex polyrhythms, experiments in nontempered tuning and a new, overt expressivity. The key works of this period are the Piano Concerto and Violin Concerto (1985–8 and 1989–93), the Hamburg Concerto (1998–9, rev. 2000), and the dazzling series of 18 piano Études. The charming yet profound set of Hungarian songs, Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel – written in 2000 – was the last work Ligeti composed before illness silenced him.

Profile by Ivan Hewett © BBC

Clips (4)


Tracks

Sort by

György Ligeti & Frederik Ullén (piano)
Polyphonic Étude
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Polyphonic Étude Polyphonic Étude Polyphonic Étude Polyphonic Étude
György Ligeti, Heinz Holliger & Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Concert Romanesc
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc
György Ligeti, Berliner Philharmoniker & Jonathan Nott
Romanian Concerto
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Romanian Concerto Romanian Concerto Romanian Concerto Romanian Concerto
Barbara Hannigan, Barbara Hannigan, Göteborgs Symfoniker & György Ligeti
Mysteries of the Macabre
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Mysteries of the Macabre Mysteries of the Macabre Mysteries of the Macabre Mysteries of the Macabre
György Ligeti & George Benjamin
Piano Concerto
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Piano Concerto Piano Concerto Piano Concerto Piano Concerto
György Ligeti, Wiener Philharmoniker & Claudio Abbado
Atmospheres
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres
Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre-Laurent Aimard & Irina Kataeva
Sonatina for piano duet
http://static.bbci.co.uk/music_clips/0.1.47/img/track_fallback.png
link
Sonatina for piano duet Sonatina for piano duet Sonatina for piano duet Sonatina for piano duet
György Ligeti & New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert (conductor)
Le Grand Macabre
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Le Grand Macabre Le Grand Macabre Le Grand Macabre Le Grand Macabre
György Ligeti, Berliner Philharmoniker & Jonathan Nott
Atmospheres
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres
Pierre-Laurent Aimard & György Ligeti
Musica Ricercata – No. 7 Cantabile, molto legato
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Musica Ricercata – No. 7 Cantabile, molto legato Musica Ricercata – No. 7 Cantabile, molto legato Musica Ricercata – No. 7 Cantabile, molto legato Musica Ricercata – No. 7 Cantabile, molto legato
György Ligeti & Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez (conductor)
Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments) Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments) Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments) Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments)

Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments)

Performer
Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez (conductor)
György Ligeti & The King’s Singers
The Lobster Quadrille
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
The Lobster Quadrille The Lobster Quadrille The Lobster Quadrille The Lobster Quadrille
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, György Ligeti, Barbro Ericson & Liliana Poli
Requiem
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Requiem Requiem Requiem Requiem
György Ligeti & o. duo
Musica Ricercata VII
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Musica Ricercata VII Musica Ricercata VII Musica Ricercata VII Musica Ricercata VII
György Ligeti, Ernest Bour & Sofia Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lontano
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Lontano Lontano Lontano Lontano
György Ligeti
Concert Romanesc
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc Concert Romanesc
Pierre Charial & György Ligeti
Hungarian Rock - Chaconne
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Hungarian Rock - Chaconne Hungarian Rock - Chaconne Hungarian Rock - Chaconne Hungarian Rock - Chaconne
György Ligeti, Berliner Philharmoniker & Sir Simon Rattle
Atmospheres
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres Atmospheres
Ludwig van Beethoven & City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Leonora Overture no. 3 Op. 72b
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqf5y.jpg
link
Leonora Overture no. 3 Op. 72b Leonora Overture no. 3 Op. 72b Leonora Overture no. 3 Op. 72b Leonora Overture no. 3 Op. 72b
Daniel Bates, Alec Frank-Gemmill, Chen Halevi, Ariel Zuckermann, Rie Koyama & György Ligeti
6 Bagatelles for wind quintet
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p026c6v6.jpg
link
6 Bagatelles for wind quintet 6 Bagatelles for wind quintet 6 Bagatelles for wind quintet 6 Bagatelles for wind quintet
György Ligeti
Violin Concerto
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Violin Concerto Violin Concerto Violin Concerto Violin Concerto
György Ligeti, Katalin Károlyi & Amadinda Percussion Group
No.4. Kuli (from Sippal, dobbal, nadihegeduvel)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
No.4. Kuli (from Sippal, dobbal, nadihegeduvel) No.4. Kuli (from Sippal, dobbal, nadihegeduvel) No.4. Kuli (from Sippal, dobbal, nadihegeduvel) No.4. Kuli (from Sippal, dobbal, nadihegeduvel)
Alisa Weilerstein & György Ligeti
Sonata for Solo Cello - Second movement, Capriccio
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Sonata for Solo Cello - Second movement, Capriccio Sonata for Solo Cello - Second movement, Capriccio Sonata for Solo Cello - Second movement, Capriccio Sonata for Solo Cello - Second movement, Capriccio
Pierre-Laurent Aimard & György Ligeti
Etudes, Book 2: XIII L'escalier du diable
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Etudes, Book 2: XIII L'escalier du diable Etudes, Book 2: XIII L'escalier du diable Etudes, Book 2: XIII L'escalier du diable Etudes, Book 2: XIII L'escalier du diable
György Ligeti & Kammerchor Stuttgart, Frieder Bernius (conductor)
Lux Aeterna
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Lux Aeterna Lux Aeterna Lux Aeterna Lux Aeterna
György Ligeti, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Irina Kataeva
Sonatina for piano 4 hands
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Sonatina for piano 4 hands Sonatina for piano 4 hands Sonatina for piano 4 hands Sonatina for piano 4 hands
György Ligeti & Frangoise Terrioux
Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes
Pierre Charial & György Ligeti
Continuum
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Continuum Continuum Continuum Continuum
Zsigmond Szathmáry & György Ligeti
Organ Study No. 1 - Harmonies
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Organ Study No. 1 - Harmonies Organ Study No. 1 - Harmonies Organ Study No. 1 - Harmonies Organ Study No. 1 - Harmonies
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Etude No.4, Fanfare
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Etude No.4, Fanfare Etude No.4, Fanfare Etude No.4, Fanfare Etude No.4, Fanfare
György Ligeti & Mahan Esfahani
Hungarian Rock
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Hungarian Rock Hungarian Rock Hungarian Rock Hungarian Rock
György Ligeti & Mahan Esfahani
Passacaglia Ungherese and Continuum
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Passacaglia Ungherese and Continuum Passacaglia Ungherese and Continuum Passacaglia Ungherese and Continuum Passacaglia Ungherese and Continuum
György Ligeti & Sinfonie orchester des Sudwestfunks Baden-Baden, Ernest Bour (conductor)
Atmospheres (extract)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Atmospheres (extract) Atmospheres (extract) Atmospheres (extract) Atmospheres (extract)

Atmospheres (extract)

Performer
Sinfonie orchester des Sudwestfunks Baden-Baden, Ernest Bour (conductor)
Quintette a. vent Claude Debussy & György Ligeti
Bagatelle No.2 for wind quintet
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Bagatelle No.2 for wind quintet Bagatelle No.2 for wind quintet Bagatelle No.2 for wind quintet Bagatelle No.2 for wind quintet
György Ligeti, Mariss Jansons & Magyar Rádió Szimfonikus Zenekara
Molto vivace (from Concert Romanesc)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Molto vivace (from Concert Romanesc) Molto vivace (from Concert Romanesc) Molto vivace (from Concert Romanesc) Molto vivace (from Concert Romanesc)
Cuarteto Casals & György Ligeti
String Quartet (Metamorphoses nocturnes)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
String Quartet (Metamorphoses nocturnes) String Quartet (Metamorphoses nocturnes) String Quartet (Metamorphoses nocturnes) String Quartet (Metamorphoses nocturnes)
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase) Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase) Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase) Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase)

Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.13 L' Escalier du diable (The devil's staircase)

György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.2; Cordes vides (Empty strings)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.2; Cordes vides (Empty strings) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.2; Cordes vides (Empty strings) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.2; Cordes vides (Empty strings) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.2; Cordes vides (Empty strings)
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.7 Galamb borong
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.7 Galamb borong Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.7 Galamb borong Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.7 Galamb borong Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.7 Galamb borong
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.6 Automne a Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.6 Automne a Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.6 Automne a Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.6 Automne a Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.6 Automne a Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw)
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.4 Fanfares
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.4 Fanfares Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.4 Fanfares Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.4 Fanfares Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.4 Fanfares
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.12 Entrelacs
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.12 Entrelacs Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.12 Entrelacs Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.12 Entrelacs Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.12 Entrelacs
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.5 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.5 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.5 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.5 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow) Studies - book 1 for piano (nos. 1-6) - no.5 Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.8 Fem
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.8 Fem Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.8 Fem Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.8 Fem Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) - no.8 Fem
György Ligeti & Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) no.10 Der Zauberlehrling
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) no.10 Der Zauberlehrling Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) no.10 Der Zauberlehrling Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) no.10 Der Zauberlehrling Studies - book 2 for piano (nos. 7-14) no.10 Der Zauberlehrling
György Ligeti & Danish Horn Trio
Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqt86.jpg
link
Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt) Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt) Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt) Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt)

Trio for horn, violin & piano ("Hommage à Brahms"): Lamento. Adagio (4th mvt)

Performer
Danish Horn Trio
Add music you love and enjoy it

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss