Tuesday, January 10, 2012

György Ligeti

Classical music is so far removed from the level of how I interact with music that I feel inadequate discussing it. Like art criticism words on classical music are intellectually so advanced that for me to add any meaningful content to what already has been written is simply ludicrous. I can't joke about it either, it's too reverent for that. But every year there's some classical music in the Top 100 and always I attempt to say something without making an ass of myself. This year's classical focus falls on the Hungarian/Romanian/Austrian composer György Ligeti. The music of Ligeti is known by a large audience because of the inclusion of some of his work in a number of movies, most famously in the 1968 Stanley Kubrick classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Kyrie, the second part of Ligeti's choral piece Requiem, is one of four pieces featured in the Kubrick film. It's an amazing piece. I heard it recently because a friend posted a version recorded by the Choeur de Radio France on her facebook page. When I heard it again after so many years since seeing the movie, I associated it with the sound of women keening, and in particular with that group of keening women protesting nuclear weapons on Parliament Square in London that I wrote about a month ago. Since I heard the Kyrie again I've been listening to a lot more of Ligeti and there are so many that I like. Equally beautiful to Kyrie, and also used in A Space Odyssey, is the piece Atmosphere. Kyrie and Atmosphere topped two subsequent weekly lists and therefore are likely to be displayed side by side in the –date and location soon to be announced– yearly display of the 100 paintings. It so happened that I simultaneously started two oil sketches of the same Ligeti photo on small boards, not knowing I would need two paintings and with the intention that the best sketch of the two I would use for the Kyrie illustration. (That still happened but the other one I finished too for the sake of Atmosphere.)

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