György Ligeti

György Ligeti (1923-2006)

Nationality: Hungarian | Austrian | Jewish
Born: May 28, 1923, Dicsőszentmárton, Transylvania Died: June 12, 2006, Vienna (age 83)

String Quartet No. 1, Métamorphoses nocturnes

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
Duration: 22 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1953-1954 (age 29-31)
Premiere: May 8, 1958. Vienna Musikverein, Ramor Quartet
5 recordings, 12 videos
21:05
Quatuor Béla
21:46
Dudok Quartet Amsterdam
1:33
Arditti Quartet
(part 1 of 8)
1:59
Arditti Quartet
(part 2 of 8)
2:09
Arditti Quartet
(part 3 of 8)
2:44
Arditti Quartet
(part 4 of 8)
2:29
Arditti Quartet
(part 5 of 8)
2:19
Arditti Quartet
(part 6 of 8)
2:57
Arditti Quartet
(part 7 of 8)
4:35
Arditti Quartet
(part 8 of 8)
21:57
The Marlboro Festival Strings
23:32
Kiesewetter, et. al.
From György Ligeti

The first word of the sub-title Metamorphoses nocturnes refers to the form. It is a kind of variation form, only there is no specific “theme” that is then varied. It is, rather, that one and the same musical concept appears in constantly new forms - that is why “metamorphoses” is more appropriate than “variations”. The quartet can be considered as having just one movement or also as a sequence of many short movements that melt into one another without pause or which abruptly cut one another off. The basic concept, which is always present in the intervals but which is in a state of constant transformation, consists of two major seconds that succeed each other transposed by a semitone. In this First String Quartet there are certainly some characteristics of my later music, but the writing is totally different, “old-fashioned”; there are still distinct melodic, rhythmic and harmonic patterns and bar structure. It is not tonal music, but it is not radically atonal, either. The piece still belongs firmly to the Bartók tradition (remember my situation as a composer in Hungary at the beginning of the fifties), yet despite the Bartók-like tone (especially in the rhythm) and despite some touches of Stravinsky and Alban Berg, I trust that the First String Quartet is still personal work.

© György Ligeti Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Related Composers

György Kurtág (born 1926)
friend
Nationality: Hungarian | Romanian | Jewish
Born: February 19, 1926, Lugoj, Romania (age 93)
Lajos Bárdos (1899-1986)
Teacher
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: October 1, 1899, Budapest Died: November 18, 1986, Budapest (age 87)
Ferenc Farkas (1905-2000)
Teacher
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: December 15, 1905, Nagykanizsa Died: October 10, 2000, Budapest (age 94)
Pál Kadosa (1903-1983)
Teacher
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: September 6, 1903, Léva Died: March 30, 1983, Budapest (age 79)
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Teacher
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: December 16, 1882, Kecskemét Died: March 6, 1967, Budapest (age 84)
Sándor Veress (1907-1992)
Teacher
Nationality: Hungarian | Swiss
Born: February 1, 1907, Kolozsvár Died: March 4, 1992, Bern (age 85)
Lukas Ligeti (born 1965)
Son
Nationality: Austrian
Born: June 13, 1965, Vienna (age 53)
Erkki Salmenhaara (1941-2002)
Student
Nationality: Finnish
Born: March 12, 1941, Helsinki Died: March 19, 2002, Helsinki (age 61)
Henrik Otto Donner (born 1939)
Student
Nationality: Finnish
Born: November 16, 1939, Tampere (age 79)
Paul Newland (born 1965)
Student
Nationality: English
Born: November 30, 1965 (age 53)