György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre: Postmodernism, Musico-Dramatic Form and the Grotesque  book cover
1st Edition

György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre: Postmodernism, Musico-Dramatic Form and the Grotesque

ISBN 9781472456984
Published August 29, 2016 by Routledge
166 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $180.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (1974–77, revised 1996) has consolidated its position as one of the major operatic works of the twentieth century. Few operas composed since the 1970s have received such numerous productions, bringing the eclectic score to a global audience. Famously dubbed by Ligeti as an ‘anti-anti-opera’, the piece is a highly ambiguous, apocalyptic fable about the human condition, fear of death and the final judgement. As the first book in English solely dedicated to discussion of this work, György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre: Postmodernism, Musico-Dramatic Form and the Grotesque offers new perspectives on the opera’s musico-dramatic identity in the context of musical postmodernism. Peter Edwards draws on a range of modernist and postmodernist theories to explore the collision of past styles and genre models in the opera, its expressive states and its engagement with the grotesque. This is ably supported by musical analysis and extensive study of Ligeti’s sketch materials held at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. Edwards’s analyses culminate in a new approach to examining the opera’s rich multiplicities, the composition of the musical material and the nature of Ligeti’s relationship with the musical past. This is a key reference work in the fields of musical modernism and postmodernism, opera studies and the music of Ligeti.

Table of Contents

Contents: List of Plates  List of Tables  List of Musical Examples  Preface and Acknowledgements  Introduction  1 An Anti-Anti-Opera  2 A Conception of Musico-Dramatic Form  3 Arias, ‘Leit-Characteristics’ and Expressive States  4 Allusion and Transformation  5 Stylistic Dissonance and the Collage  6 Resisting Closure: The Passacaglia Finale  7 From Electronic Music to Music Theatre  8 A Musical Grotesque  Select Bibliography  Index

View More



Peter Edwards is a post-doctoral research fellow in musicology at the University of Oslo. He leads a research project entitled ‘Style and Modernity’, funded by the Research Council of Norway. In 2012 Peter successfully defended his PhD thesis on György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre; a critical examination of Ligeti’s creative process, the sketches for the opera, and the significance of the opera in the wider context of modern and postmodern aesthetics. He has also worked as a guitarist and composer and has received numerous commissions from leading ensembles and performers. Peter is a member of the editorial board of the Norwegian Journal of Musicology.


"Readers seeking a wide-ranging introduction emphasising the opera’s music and dramatic character will find much useful information here" - Arnold Whittall, The Musical Times