The John Tusa Interviews
Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Gyorgy Ligeti
Gyorgy Ligeti is one of the seminal figures in contemporary music. A composer who has been at the forefront of the avant-garde for over 40 years, he escaped to Vienna after the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and became closely involved with some of the leading experimental figures, like Boulez, Stockhausen and Eimert. But then as now Ligeti resisted becoming drawn into the rigid rules of any movement. In the 1960s he began writing a series of textural orchestral works and choral works such as the Requiem and Lux Aeterna, pieces which brought him to a wider audience. His musical terms of reference are incredibly broad - from Renaissance polyphony to American individualists such as Nancarrow and Harry Partch. For himself Ligeti says he composes because he has to - yet his music speaks to a large and admiring audience. Now in his late 70s, Ligeti remains busy with new projects. In the last decade they've included an ongoing series of Etudes, one of the most important additions to the piano repertoire, which has now reached a Third Book. Most recently he has written a Horn Concerto and a piece for a typically novel combination, for solo voice and 4 percussionists, With Pipes Drums and Fiddles. The latter is lyrical and sensuous, the Horn Concerto lean and epigrammatic.
Gyorgy Ligeti as examples of current work they're fascinatingly different. Now they were written at more or less the same time, weren't they?
No, the Horn Concerto is older. I wrote it late '98 and early '99, so it's ready since long time. And the seven Hungarian poems, I made last year.
Now, these poems are by a Hungarian poet who you hugely admire, Sandor Weores. What is it about his work that has such a strong attraction?
Well, to say that he was one of the greatest poets in Hungarian literature, for all times. It's of course a very subjective judgement. I also am influenced by the fact that I knew him very well. I set three poems of him for song and piano without knowing him in the year '46. And in the year '47 I met him. He was interested to listen to these pieces. And he is one of my deep favourites both as poet and as a person. It's very difficult to judge his poetry from the small verses which I used in my pieces, both wartime in Hungary and several times I came back to him, because his great poetry, which is absolutely known and adored in Hungarian intellectual circles, are very different. He created new kind of words - mythologies - whole descriptions of non-existent universes, more like Borges, but in poetry. And in the introduction for this performance I wrote he was Hungary 's Mozart, in a way of extreme virtuosity . Nobody used, in the whole Hungarian literature history, with this kind of virtuosity.
Does that fact that the Horn Concerto is terse, epigrammatic and then this lyrical style of the seven poems, does that reflect a distinct progression on your part, or if not progression, at least a development?
I don't think so. You see, the Horn Concerto was something special because I was very much interested in new kind of harmonic spectra, a new kind of sound combination using overtones, partials in a non-harmonic way. So it's more or less an experiment for myself. Whether the experiment was a success, it's not me to judge.When I finish a piece, I always have new ideas. And it's very similar like work in science, when you solve the problem, there are a hundred new problems. So when I finish the piece, especially when I could listen to the piece, then I have a lot of new ideas for the next piece. This was not in this case, because the Horn Concerto was premiered a couple of months after the Seven Songs.
And what have you learned from the fact that you have now heard both the Concerto and the Seven Songs in fairly close proximity to one another? What sort of suggestions has it made to you about the next direction that you go in?
They are more practical questions. I am just now writing a next piano study...
That's Etude Eighteen?
...which will be number eighteen, which will be premiered in May by Pierre Laurent Aimard, my favourite pianist. This has nothing to do neither with the songs nor with the Horn Concerto.
Is it important that you have a good response at a premiere or from an audience?
For me, the most important is to have good players and singers. Then, the moment when the performers are high quality, the audience is always responding. So the whole idea about new music which cannot be understood is because no time to rehearse, or not good enough performers. Becoming an old composer, I am today, I can have the luxury possibility to choose between the really good performers. And in this case, in both pieces, in the songs and Horn Concerto, they were excellent performers
Well a great conductor of modern music, Hans Rosbaud, always used to say 'modern music isn't difficult, it's just badly played'.
And he said that thirty or forty years ago and I suppose the situation is still the case.
The same. By the way, you mentioned Rosbaud; I'm very happy, because my second orchestral piece, Atmospheres, was premiered by him and I met him very, very shortly just in the general rehearsal. I never met him before. I knew that he is a great, great conductor - In the general rehearsal he performed a piece, but he had no understanding, because in Atmospheres it's important that it is one piece. There has no sections. But if you don't know this kind of requirement of the composer, there will be sections. I was totally astonished how intelligent Rosbaud was. A wonderful musician, and wonderful thinking person. I just told him "Would you please do it again and no cut in it? One piece." And he spoke about ten minutes with the orchestra, what he told I have no idea, and then he played again and it was perfect.
You are born in Hungary . People think of you, misleadingly, as a Hungarian composer, though you are a European composer, world composer. But, what does the Hungarian element mean in your musical compositions?
The language. Think on Bartok. For Bartok, folk songs meant so very much. But basically, both in Bartok and Janacek - Janacek is the Czech language in Moravian dialect, is the language, not so much the folk music. And for me, also. Hungarian language, which is my language when I was a child... I even didn't know that other languages exist. Then I became aware that there is Romanian which is different, because I cannot understand, when I heard from policemen and soldiers. I am deeply connected with this way of thinking in Hungarian language.
Do you think that affects your approach to rhythm, that the innate rhythms of the Hungarian language then show through?
Yes. Hungarian language is extremely practical for poetry, because you can use the rhythmic, metrical structure in different way.
But you think this affects the sounds of your music, even when you're not setting Hungarian words?
Yes, I think, yes.
I want to go back, now, to your earliest beginnings. Your parents were middle-class, Jewish, only very, very amateur music; I mean, not what we'd call a real musical background in your family and your father didn't even want you to learn the violin, did he?
No, no, no. He didn't permit me. I should be a scientist. We had in the family a very famous musician who was Leopold Auer, a famous violin teacher. He was in St Petersburg ... Tchaikovsky dedicated him his violin concerto and Auer said this is not good music; he refused and Tchaikovsky became furious and dedicated it to somebody else. But I never met Auer. He died in the '30's when I was still... but he died in Dresden , in Germany .
But this was never part of the family background. Nobody said "My boy, you must remember that you come from a family which has Leopold Auer in it"?
Yes. My father always taught it was the uncle of my father, so the brother of my grandfather. Coming from a small town in Hungary , near the [unclear] Sea and the whole family of my father comes from this area. But we had no instrument at home. The only instrument was a gramophone player and so my background in music is absolute bad to be a musician and it was wonderful to be a scientist and in fact, I wanted to study physics and mathematics and I wanted to find about life is, which is more a question of physics than of biology. I'm still extremely interested in sciences, not only natural science but very much in history and politics and if I have a hobby outside of music, this is mathematics. But I don't use mathematics in my composition. However, I am very close friend with Benno ? Mandelbrod ? and with [unclear] who work in fractal-geometry and this is part of mathematics where I'm very deeply attracted.
Just going back, though, to your very earliest origins, you heard a lot of opera, didn't you?
I was seven years, first time, because I was born in a very small town. There were absolutely no concerts and... It was a cinema, This was the only cultural centre. And when I was six years old, my parents, together with me and my brother, we moved to Kluge , Hungarian [unclear] or German Klausenburg , which is the main city of Transylvania with university, opera house, theatre and symphonic concerts. The first opera I heard was Boris Godunov.
Is it still one of your favourites?
One of my favourites. Mr John Tusa:, you have a Czech or Slovak name.
Czech. So you should know that beside of Bartok and Stravinsky, my
favourite composer is Leos Janacek....from Brno .
Quite right. What excellent judgement. When did you become aware that you were part of the Hungarian musical tradition - Bartok, Kodaly and their intimate links with Hungarian folk music. Was that something that was almost instinctive from the moment you started to be interested in music?
I'm not aware that I was especially interested in music in childhood. I always imagine music, but I thought every child is doing the same. In the small town, everybody spoke Hungarian and we were part of Romania , but the population were Hungarian speaking, mainly. And I heard a lot of Hungarian folks songs, where peasant ladies who came in the small town to work in the kitchens and in this kind of housework, they just sang folk tunes. And then I heard a lot of also Romanian folk tunes, there were some Romanian villages nearby. And then in this small town, were a lot of gypsies, so they played gypsy music. Of course, gypsy music is not gypsy music, this is a special music of Hungarian small aristocrats, gentries, which the gypsies did to serve their marriages and funerals and so on and so on. So the home was full with gypsy music and I didn't like gypsy music.
What didn't you like about it? What worried you about it?
It's very difficult to analyse. I don't know. I heard on gramophone records, for instance, operettas, like Lehar . I hated it instinctively. And I heard Mozart and Beethoven and Wagner and I adored. So, I don't think that I had a judgement as a child...
But you must have had a judgement, because clearly nobody taught you to hate Lehar and to feel uncomfortable with the gypsy music.
No, nobody taught me.
It must be instinctive.
It's instinctive. Something in this kind of serving the aristocrats, is something subdued, something which is dishonest.
Servile. And I'm very, very, very sensitive both against domination and servility.
Let's move forward to this dreadful, appalling period of the wartime. You and your family ended up in concentration camp; your father and brother were murdered, your mother survived. You escaped from labour camp. How much is that a time and a period that you think about constantly?
All the time, I think. I cannot accept that my brother was killed. He was five years younger than me. He lived exactly 17 years. I saw him last time, when he was 16, then I was in the Hungarian army in labour service which was very, very difficult, but not as difficult as concentration camp. So, by chance I survived. The hate against the Hitler regime and the Hungarian regime which was allied with Hitler is... I cannot forget it and it never diminished. Emotions, with time which is going on, these emotions of hate and disgust become stronger.
So the idea of forgiveness and reconciliation with that regime and those years is impossible?
Impossible. I think it will only happen that people who survived this horrible time of the early '40's will die, me too, and then there'll be nobody there with the emotions of hate. Or we don't know the future. Think of Africa today, the Tutsi/Hutu murders was very similar.
Yes. Well, if it's taken us fifty years to approach the end of that Nazi experience, it will probably take fifty years in Central Africa as well. You have said that the experience of extreme terror doesn't lead to the creation of art. Has the experiences of the Second World War, have they had any place in your music?
Maybe, yes, but I'm not aware. You have to look at this in the following way. I survived Hitler terror and then came the next terror, the Stalin terror, then I was in Budapest as a student. And we just slipped from one dictatorship into the next. The two gangsters of the 20th century, Stalin and Hitler, they were allied against the
rest of the world, against England .
In the period from 1945 to 1948, it must have been a period of extraordinary optimism, when you thought fascism is defeated - fascism, freedom, liberation.
Yes. The Soviet army conquered the eastern part of Europe , but we had no information about Communist Soviet Union; this was some abstract far-away country. And the first three years, until '47, the beginning of '48, it was no dictatorship. It was a free government, elected government in Hungary . It was harsh time. We didn't know that secretly the police became already part of the Communist dictatorship which was in the making.
So the depression, when the Communist dictatorship came and you realised that you'd had three years of illusory freedom and now there was another dictatorship...
It's impossible to imagine what that sense of let down was.
It was total desperation. And this happened very quickly. So the installation, what the Germans called Gleichautung - to follow the rulers, to obey - was very gradual in the Hitler time, because Hungary was not totally Nazi, but it became Nazi. But with the Soviet occupation, the change from a democratic regime to the total Communist dictatorship was extremely quickly in late summer '48. And in a couple of months, the industry and commerce was destroyed; no more shops.
State controlled everything?
Everything. Imagine concrete things - there was no shoe repair, no repair of water supplies. Nothing. The bureaucracy didn't function - nothing functioned - so it was a very dramatic change. So I left Hungary in December '56, that meant in winter we had to survive, somehow in several layers of coats.
The other appalling thing in that time, up to '56, was what you didn't know about what was happening in the west. Now, as a musician, because you were at the Liszt Academy by then, had you by 1956, had you any idea of the 2nd Viennese School ?
Very little. I would say, until '55, very little and then some... there were smuggled some books and scores. I could see the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg... But I could not hear the music, I just saw it.
You only knew the six Bartok Quartets by the time you left Hungary in 1956.
Not the six. Numbers three and four were strictly prohibited. Also number five, but number five I could hear it once.
And you only heard Stockhausen in 1956 as the Hungarian uprising was deemed...
... Destroyed by the Red Army?
No, no, no. In the moment when the uprising was not destroyed, in the Communist time, the western radio stations were jammed. All the German, American, British, French, possible to listen to radio, but not understanding. And also the music was jammed. So I had a very vague impression. I knew that every Thursday, 11 o'clock, there is one hour of new music in WDR from Cologne . So I had some information about electronic music, but I couldn't really hear. But the Stockhausen Gesange der Junglinge and Kontrapunkte, for instance, I could clearly hear on 7th November '56, because during the Revolution and immediately after the jam station did not work.
And it was to Stockhausen that you went in Cologne and the studios of West Deutscher Rundfunk when you fled from Hungary ?
But the day before I had no idea that I would be in Cologne .
Of course. So there's this extraordinary process of discovery for two to three years in and around Cologne and Darmstadt with Stockhausen, with Boulez, with all the other great names of the 20th century?
And what did you learn there?
I learned that there is a total different music. This was the music of Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen and a couple of other composers. But I think that Boulez and Stockhausen were most important for me - that there is a way which is so different and I was influenced. However, not totally influenced, because I rejected this idea to write Serial music. I am a constructivist, but not a dogmatic person.
What was it about Serial music that you found alien to the sort of music you wanted to write?
I was extremely interested in a piece which is not orthodox serial which is Le Marteau Sans Maitre, everybody was deeply impressed by this piece of Boulez. Today, I also think this is a masterpiece. And in Cologne I could see the score and I wanted to analyse it, but I couldn't understand how it's made. And then I chose Structures 1A, because this is very simple to understand and I made - I wonder whether this is known - I made a very, very deep-going analysis to describe everything - like police researcher who goes on criminal...
To the scene of a crime?
Yes, scene of a crime. So, in fact, I analysed everything. I didn't know Boulez at the time, I just knew the score and heard a piece. And Boulez was not happy, knowing about it.
What, that you had analysed it so deeply?
Yes, and I discovered some mistakes and Boulez didn't like that somebody see that he did some...
Well, errors... in this kind of constructivity, you always have errors, because...
...who could be that consistent? Nobody can be that consistent, can they? Even within the terms of their own system.
And in the process of doing that, did you decide 'I don't want to write music like this' or 'this is not true to me'?
No, I decided nothing. I'm extremely curious in many, many things. I want to know so many things and this was one; I wanted to see how this would work. It does not mean that I decide to do it similarly or not to do. Neither nor. Just... like interested in 'what is life?'
But you finally fell out with the whole of that school, Stockhausen, etc, because first of all you said it was too dogmatic and you weren't interested in dogma and that there was a huge amount of factional in-fighting; you either had to be pro-somebody and against somebody.
Yes, this was difficult in Cologne . I lived more or less three years in Cologne , working in electronic studio and there were a lot of political fighting because different people, like Stockhausen, like Kagel wanted to be first. And I, personally, have no ambition to be first or to be important. I'm not totally honest; if I would say I'm totally honest, then I would lie. But I'm not interested in these power struggles. I'm not interested in power at all.
Each one of them wanted you to be part of their school, part of their team. Was that it?
Stockhausen wanted it. With Boulez I didn't speak about this question. By the way, today and since the 70's, Boulez is deeply friendly towards me. He conducts a lot of my music. And the fact that I became quite well known in France is due to Boulez. He was nicer to me than I was to him.
Why were you unpleasant to him? Because you were critical of his work?
Yes. I criticised Structures 1A. I thought this was serial music, of course it was a stupid, naive mistake because this is not the typical Boulez music. It was just one moment in his work.
But you've never made friends again with Stockhausen?
I never was a non-friend of Stockhausen, also today I have nothing against him.
But you don't have anything in common?
Not any more.
So you then, having broken with this most influential, most powerful of Western schools, you then had to make your own way?
No, but things are not like this. I never declared that I break with it. There were journalists pretended that I broke and I'm reading... It does not happen this way. It was a company of, more or less, good friends with a lot of intrigues inside, of rivalry, power games, which never interested me. But I still was good friend with Stockhausen, with Kagel, and very, very close friend with Bruno Maderna, whom as human I liked. Everybody liked Maderna.
But still, I accept that that is what happened, but you then chose your own path in your own way which would be the path of Gyorgy Ligeti, rather than the path of any particular musical or intellectual school.
That's true, but I never thought in this way. I'm not thinking in general philosophical or ideological methods or patterns or strategies. I have no strategy at all. It's about writing a composition and then I am concentrating on a composition and I have certain constructive ideas. It's not only naïve, it has to be consistent - not consistent as mathematics, consistent as a natural language. And this applies for a certain piece and then I am ready with the piece, and then comes the next piece where I revise my working method. I'm not thinking in party politics.
I'm glad you raised composition, because it's time we spoke about how you compose. Do you start with a sound in your inner ear and then find ways of translating that sound into symbols on the page?
Yes, but this is an over-simplification.
I can explain it more historical when I was a child without learning music, before. I had a kind of game which I played. Going to school took less than twenty minutes on foot and I always imagined... it was some Beethoven symphony or Schumann... what I heard from the radio and... of course, Beethoven was the centre. And, I always imagined I listened to a concert, I imagined this music naively and I heard it. And from this kind of listening to inner fantasy, which were not original, which were full with influence.
I very gradually developed a kind of possibility to not only imagine music, but to compose it on paper, on page. When I began - it was very late when my father accepted that I can have piano lessons; I was 14, pretty late, ... so I'm a very bad pianist, technically. And then I just went in a shop, bought music paper, had a pencil
and rubber and began to write a piece when I could play a little bit piano. And it was in Grieg's style, because I played some simple Valse of Lyrische Stucke of Grieg, so this was my first attempt to compose.
You said that you could only explain this historically; how does that compositional process occur now?
In a similar way. I take the music paper and I write. Not always music paper. For instance, in my pieces Aventures, Nouvelles Aventures, there is no music paper because there are a lot of...
Spoken word, sound...
Yes, yes. Then, I had to make like a picture of the score. Or, I have an organ piece, Volumina which is not in music. It is music, but I had to develop a special notation, but this was the early 60's, was the time of musical graphic. I thought musical graphic, as such, is a quite stupid idea.
But you went through the period?
I went through the period. I did all crazy, stupid things to try. I even wrote a piece without knowing the Cage piece, 4 minutes 33 seconds - a piece which consisted from one sound and then nothing, silence. I should know better John Cage, then I would not do it.
You said you take a pencil - you still write in pencil? Are your manuscripts tidy or is there an enormous amount of crossing out?
Enormous amount of crossing out. For my piano concerto there are many hundred first pages.
You had twenty attempts to start it, is that right?
Much more. Much more. Maybe more than 100. I never counted, I am not aware. It takes time until... it's something which I cannot explain, because it's just a feeling. There is a screw which has to be adjusted very exactly.... The cogs have to...
To mesh, exactly. There is a description of Yeats, in English, about a puzzle which you try, you try... in a certain moment, you succeeded. And I think this is a wonderful image for this kind of work. It's not only the free fantasy of the composer or of the artist in general. There is something where things have to have a certain consistency, but don't ask me what this consistency is. In a mathematical deduction, I can exactly show what is consistency. In art there is no such consistency.
But you just have that sense that you have reached the point when it fits, when it meshes?
Yes. So, why I'm so slow in composing and revising all the time and re-writing pieces; until I have the feeling, it's like a mathematical structure, but it's never a mathematical structure, in fact.
A sense of the mathematical may validate it, but it doesn't drive it in the first instance?
Yes. And it's an emotional validation, not an intellectual one and when I imagine music, it's naïve first. But then I am very interested to have a ... like in a school where the teacher gives you a certain problem, solve this problem.
But that does make it sound an intellectually driven process, and of course in a way it is. But it's clearly much more than that.
I think that emotion and intellect are not separate. In our brain, the cortex and the limbical .. well, I know it from Scientific America, some articles... If you make intelligent, intellectual judgements, it's emotion. The judges who put in prison people, or even condemn to death, they are not rational, totally.
They say they are administering the law, but they are driven by emotion?
By hate or by complaint. I think to do art work is very similar. Also to do science is similar, because it's not true that science is without emotions.
Yes, we are fed this completely mendacious dichotomy between emotion and intellect...
Yes, which is false, this dichotomy does not exist. There are many naive people saying 'we don't understand modern music because it's so intellectual'. This is simply not true.
I thought, when I was listening to 'Aventures' and Nouvelle Aventures recently, I thought the audience should be laughing more. And they were laughing a little; there's some very funny things. It's extremely witty. But we sit there as if we're in some temple listening to something where humour couldn't be part of it if it was a serious piece of music.
Well, two days ago I heard here in Hamburg Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures and very, very good performance and people laughed.
But not enough.
[overtalking], should they?
I cannot, I cannot propose to people, please, to push a button 'now you have to laugh'. No, there is a tradition that so-called high-culture music concert is a serious something. I personally deeply like Charlie Chaplin films and Marx Brothers - more Marx Brothers than Karl Marx. And this black humour, British films, with Alec Guinness, a lot of people - Agatha Christie. All this murder and funny at the same time.
I want to talk a bit about the past and your connection with the past, because you say 'I like all good music' - Gesualdo, The Renaissance; Monteverdi, of course, one of your great loves; the first Viennese school. Now there are many composers who say they're not interested in the past, they're only interested in what is being written now and indeed, they would be happy if there was no knowledge of the past. What do you feel about those people who say 'I am not interested in 500 years of music that has been written before I came to writing'? What is your reaction?
I think this is extremely egocentrical idea, thinking the self-importance and thinking in the future... Wagner began this foolish way of thinking he's the most important composer. He accepted Beethoven's 9th Symphony, but now he will create a music of the future. What he created was a contribution to the Nazi Germany, in fact. I'm against it. And also Schonberg . Schonberg who taught with the method of 12 tone rows - "I made sure the domination of German music for the next 100 years", well this is extremely pretentious and stupid.
But the point is that your engagement with the past, your living in the great musical tradition, it hasn't prevented you from writing the most contemporary, the most personal music?
You say this, but I have no judgement about myself. Anyway, I am deeply linked to tradition. I think we don't discover from zero point new styles. Always continuing, whether we want or not.
We've all lived through the totalitarian ideology of Nazism and of Communism; they're both dead, gone, swept away...
No, not in England .
Well, yes, but we have to engage with the world which was coloured by these totalitarianisms. What 'ism' do we live in now? Maybe consumerism? And if so, what is it like for a composer living in whatever the world scene is, that we have now?
Clearly, you're not dictated to be ideology, but you live in a world almost of perfect freedom, don't you?
Almost, but somehow we live in this total communication, too much information world with Internet where everybody is connected to everybody. I think it's not very good for art.
We are in a structure of the big capitalist. I'm an anti-communist, but also anti-capitalist because look what happens just in these days in Congo ; manipulated by international companies who want diamonds and all this... it's business. Business, to a certain amount is important, because we cannot produce all products. Adam and Eve, in paradise, did not need different kind of production systems. But since humanity is producing tools and products, which is different from animal life, it's necessary.... industry and commerce. But when industry and commerce becomes a huge bureaucratic system and everything is based on money and power, this is very bad for science and arts.
But you see, an advocate of the market system, because we don't talk about capitalism nowadays we talk about market systems
[overtalking] so Mrs Thatcher and Mr Hayek
certainly, and everybody now, they would say to you, and in my position they'd say to me as well, 'you may say what you like about the market, but only because the market and the disciplines and business create a surplus - is there any money for art and the money to commission your compositions.
If I look in this way, I have to agree with this sentence. But, at the same time, the pressure of the market competition is not very benevolent for art, because the corruption of artists to do Hollywood-style music is very, very heavy.
You see that among your colleagues, just in order to make money they... write something popular.
Yes. I see it. Nothing against popular... high-level popular music I very much appreciate. But to be in a hurry and to produce something which they please to managers, I'm against.
How do you justify, though, if one of these managers said to you "What does your music contribute to the good of society?"
Nobody asks this question.
That's probably because you don't talk to these people. [overtalking]
Well, I don't...
That is what they would say to you.
I met a lot of agents and managing people. They are interested to sell their artists or their products. There are benevolent ones.
Yes, but supposing the head of the steel firm comes to you, or an electronics company comes to you and says "Out of my taxation and out of the wealth that I create, you, Gyorgy Ligeti, are allowed to write music. What does your music contribute to society?"
I don't ask myself this question. It has no function. People who make no compromise, who don't write symphony for global companies, they write what they want. I write what I want. If they give me a commission and pay something, it's ok, I have to live. But I never will adjust my output to what agents or industry wants.
I think you're absolutely right to say that you cannot say what the contribution is, because either what you do exists in absolute terms and either society accepts that there are some activities like yours which exist in absolute terms, but you can't define what you do in terms that the market would understand.
But would it be right, looking at your extraordinary complex political and composition life, that what you do is you pursue an individual path, a path where you feel you are being true to your own musical instincts, and that if you are an example and you've always said that you're not a guru and not an evangelist, but if you are an example it is as a person who is prepared to take individual responsibility for their actions?
Yes. I have an idea. My father was a very honest, straightforward man and of course, I'm very deeply influenced by the attitudes and character of my father. I want to be as honest as possible. I cannot always afford to be totally honest, because sometimes people ask certain questions or there are conversations where everybody sometimes has to hide something. But I hate to lie. And this is maybe now a very prestigious sentence: In all my life, I try to be as honest as circumstances allowed. I was dishonest with the Communist dictatorship, for instance, I went illegally through the border of Hungary to Austria , which was considered criminal. It succeeded. So, because my feeling for personal liberty was much more important than obey to law. So I don't respect all this. My hero, by chance he was British, is Winston Churchill. In the very critical days of end of May '40 when Lord Halifax and other people from British government and establishment made pressure on Churchill to make arrangement with Hitler. If Churchill would not insist in his famous speech, 'We don't give in. We destroy Hitler', then today the world would be very different and any case, we would not have this conversation here today.
All our lives would be different.
So, it was better. And I'm extremely, extremely thankful for this funny person - Churchill.
Gyorgy Ligeti, thank you very much.
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