Ligeti's Laments: Nostalgia, Exoticism, and the Absolute
When the Hungarian composer GyÃ¶rgy Ligeti passed away in June 2006, he was widely feted as being one of the greatest composers of our time. His complete published works were recorded during his lifetime and his music continues to inspire a steady stream of performances and scholarship. Ligeti's Laments provides a critical analysis of the composer's works, considering both the compositions themselves and the larger cultural implications of their reception. Bauer both synthesizes and challenges the prevailing narratives surrounding the composer's long career and uses the theme of lament to inform a discussion of specific musical topics, including descending melodic motives, passacaglia and the influence of folk music. But Ligeti 'laments' in a larger sense; his music fuses rigour and sensuality, tradition and the new and influences from disparate high and low cultures, with a certain critical and ironic distance, reflected in his spoken commentary as well as in the substance of his music. The notions of nostalgia, exoticism and the absolute are used to relate works of different eras and genres, along with associated concepts of allegory, melancholy, contemporary subjectivity and the voice.
'... many revealing observations... Given Ligeti’s position as one of the great musical innovators of the last half-century, it is particularly important to be reminded that his sixty-year career, during which his style was seen to undergo some rather abrupt changes, is unified precisely by his strong links to the past.' Notes ’Writing from a broad cultural vantage, and with a style accessible to a wide readership, she examines Ligeti’s music in light of the composer’s own commentaries and essays, the music of his predecessors (e.g., BartÃ³k, Bruckner, Beethoven, Debussy), and literary and artistic traditions that deal with the subject of lament ... I applaud Bauer in her efforts to situate Ligeti as a modernist subject and his music within a cultural nexus of ideologies based on Adorno, Benjamin, and others. And I hope that further scholarly dialogues on Ligeti will not shy away from exploring the significance of his music within a broad array of discourses, as Bauer bravely undertakes in this book.’ Music Theory Spectrum