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The role of allusion in Ligeti's piano music

Stavros Laparidis, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study demonstrates how Ligeti arrived at a new musical language that hinges upon allusion to diverse strands of twentieth-century techniques, rather than settling on a particular pre-existing compositional style. The composer intentionally maintained a rather peripheral stance to other modernist streams of thought, and thus created a body of work that resists labeling and categorization. Among the strongest influences on Ligeti were African sub-Saharan polyrhythmic music, Indonesian Gamelan music, Conlon Nancarrow's player piano studies, chaos theory, and fractal images. His piano music employs compositional processes alluding to these influences indirectly. This study also draws distinctions among similar techniques to allusion such as intertextuality, collage, pastiche, and distorted quotation by citing specific examples from Ligeti's works and how they can be understood and interpreted. However, this study has as a focusing point the composer's piano music and how the composer's writing is evocative of the above mentioned influences.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Laparidis, Stavros, "The role of allusion in Ligeti's piano music" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3504138.