György Ligeti’s Études pour piano are some of the best known and most influential works in the late half of the XXth century. Representative for the composer’s aesthetic preferences at the time, the Études are both traditional and innovative, maintaining the idea of virtuosic pieces while experimenting with new techniques and acoustic effects.
This study is focused on the analysis of the first étude, Désordre, and follows a compositional point of view. The description of the different structures and types of reasoning will therefore take precedence over the performance concerning topics.
Given the nature of the work, the analysis is structured according to the different parameters of the musical discourse, starting with the most obvious, rhythm, and then continuing with melody, harmony, etc. When necessary and/or relevant, parallels or comparisons between different parameters are formulated.
The conclusions of the study are meant to evaluate the relationship between the composer’s intentions and the means chosen to put them into practice on one hand, and the actual acoustic results of those chosen means, on the other. Given the actual transparency of the construction process and techniques, I also try to emphasize the work’s pedagogical value in musical composition, as opposed to the customary pedagogical value in performing of an étude.
In his first Symphony, Ode to Silence, Anatol Vieru continuously chisels blocks from high-piled, noisy masses of sounds, until he reaches an eloquent and significant silence. On the occasion of the 15th year since the death of this important Romanian composer (born in 1926), some questions arise: What is hidden in this silence? How much of the circumstances of a particular life are inscribed in the structure of his symphonic music?
Like many Romanian Jews, Anatol Vieru became in his youth a member of the Communist Party, believing in an ideology that promised emancipation and the end of resentments. He wrote enthusiastically some ardent mass choirs, and conducted them. But already at the beginning of the 1950s, when he studied in Moscow with Aram Khachaturian, he began to doubt the sustainability of communist ideas. This was the start of a long process of increasing estrangement, which found a voice in his music. Its climax is reached in the Sixth Symphony, Exodus, completed in the year of change 1989: the insight that there is no ideological basis able to drive people towards solidarity and community is adequately expressed through music.
In the last two or three decades, classic music studies seem to have been dominated by a renewed interest in the issue of musical expression. One of the key-concepts that encapsulated this idea of musical expression is that of “topos,” or topic. I propose in these pages a mini-history and “archeology” of the topos concept, as it is reflected in the books on classical style by Leonard Ratner, Wye Jamison Allanbrook, Elaine R. Sisman, Kofi Agawu, and Robert S. Hatten. My undertaking is historical in that it follows a chronology of writings between 1980 and 1994. At the same time, it is “archeological,” in that it presents rhetoric and semiotics as the deep, and often hidden epistemic fundaments of the topoi.
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