Ligeti’s Unique Modernist Voice

Composer Gyorgi Ligeti, who died last week at 83, “could be mistaken for one of many atonal modernists, whose presence in traumatized post-World War II culture is explained by a global need to put emotions on hold. Ligeti no doubt used modernist musical systems popular among the cerebral musical inventors of the 1960s and ’70s. But his Holocaust experience shows his modernist stance to be anything but a means of emotional insulation. Quite the opposite… While other composers wrote music of disillusionment, Ligeti’s seemed to arrive from a time when illusions weren’t reasonable expectations.”