To mark what would have been György Ligeti’s 100th birthday, a series of celebrations is being organised by music professionals and contemporary music lovers around the world. Numerous important composers lived and worked during the second half of the 20th century, and many fine works of great value were written. Yet Ligeti stands out among these composers, not only for his works but also for the extent to which he influenced his contemporaries. Only few composers from recent times enjoy comparable worldwide esteem equal to that of Ligeti, with their works so regularly performed and their compositional techniques so frequently invoked.
Ligeti’s contemporaries and students have widely praised his brilliant mind, his abilities in terms of analysis, synthesis and insight, and of course his musical sensitivity, creativity, and imagination. He was such an exceptional mind that he could even engage in detailed professional discussions with brain scientists and microbiologists, and it was with sincere interest that he pursued the discoveries and findings of disciplines seemingly far removed from music. He was himself a musical explorer, transferring the research fields of other disciplines to his own compositional research and compositions. And he declared that by the time his musical language had been adopted—which is to say: quasi-imitated—by others, he was already elsewhere. On new paths, so to speak, ahead of everyone else.
How else could we music academies celebrate this centennial than by having our students perform an emblematic work together and—in Ligeti’s own spirit—create new innovative works as an expression of our gratitude? After all, the universities of music that will be paying tribute to Ligeti at the concert on 29 April are those where he taught and spent a significant part of his life.
Under the aegis of the Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programme, participating universities of music in Budapest, Vienna, Hamburg, and Stockholm will be sending five instrumental students, one conductor, and one composition student each to Budapest—where, following a week-long workshop and rehearsal process, the Hamburg Concerto (composed in 1998/99 and 2002) is to be performed together with four new chamber compositions created for the occasion by composing students. At the rostrum will be conducting students from the participating institutions who will lead the concerto’s seven movements as well as the newly composed works. The concert, to be streamed live, will take place on 29 April in the Great Hall of Budapest’s Liszt Academy of Music: as Budapest was the starting point of György Ligeti’s teaching career, we felt that this city should host the workshop.