Monday, March 31, 2008
The famous Hungarian composer György Ligeti (1923-2006) was born in the Transylvanian town of Târnaveni, Romania, to a Hungarian Jewish family. Ligeti recalls that his first exposure to languages other than Hungarian came one day while listening to a conversation among the Romanian-speaking town police. Before that he hadn't known that other languages existed. He moved to the important Transylvanian city of Cluj with his family when he was 6 and he was not to return to his birth town until the 1990s. Ligeti received his initial musical training at the Cluj Conservatory. His education was interrupted in 1943 when, as a Jew, he was forced to labor by the Nazis. His brother, at the age of 16, was deported to Mauthausen; his parents were both sent to Auschwitz. Following the war, Ligeti returned to his studies in Budapest, graduating in 1949. In December of 1956, two months after the Hungarian revolution was put down by the Soviet Army, he fled first to Vienna and eventually took Austrian citizenship. Many of his works are well known in classical music circles, but to the general public, he is best known for the various pieces featured in the Stanley Kubrick films 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.