Ligeti’s Imaginative World

4th May 2018

We recently teamed up with animator/illustrator Ola Szmida for a series of animations on Ligeti’s fantastical imagination and striking scores. Commissioned for our next Orchestral Theatre production, these hand-drawn animations will play a major role in our multimedia exploration on György Ligeti’s groundbreaking music – Ligeti Concertos, 13 May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre – along with mini-presentations and performances by three of the world’s leading Ligeti interpreters. This will be a big moment for us, as it’ll be our first concert in the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall, home to our Orchestral Theatre series at Southbank Centre. And we’re also excited to be the highlight orchestral concert for the three-day festival Ligeti in Wonderland – you can discover more and book tickets here.

Ligeti famously described three childhood memories as significant influences on his musical world. One notable one was an unsettling dream of tangled cobwebs overtaking his room: ‘I was caught up in this immense web together with both living things and objects of various kinds’. We hear this texture of dense webs translated to sound in much of Ligeti’s music, making up his iconic compositional technique, micropolyphony. Through micropolyphony, Ligeti piled layer upon layer of musical lines on top of each other, creating an overwhelming cloud of sound. Commenting on how influential this childhood dream was to his sonic experiments, Ligeti wrote:

‘The events in that cobwebbed room were transformed into sonic fantasies, which formed the initial material for compositions. The involuntary conversion of optical and tactile into acoustic sensations is habitual with me: I almost always associate sounds with colour, form, and texture; and form, colour, and material quality with every acoustic sensation.’

We hear this dense web of sound distinctly at points in his Chamber Concerto. So for our animations, we collaborated with Ola to illustrate Ligeti’s dream along with the striking score of the Chamber Concerto. We’ve included a few excerpts so you can get a sense of what’s in store for Ligeti Concertos.

Part of our Orchestral Theatre series as Associate Orchestra at Southbank Centre

Ola Szmida: