Ligeti: Lontano

Today we have a demanding piece of listening, a masterpiece of the 1960’s avant-garde. György Ligeti’s music is most famous for its use in the films of Stanley Kubrick, including most importantly 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you’ve never heard Lontano before, you might recognize Ligeti’s musical style if you’ve seen that movie.

“Lontano” is an Italian word meaning “far away.” The music is atmospheric and elusive. We feel as if we are constantly struggling to perceive it through a thick mist. Alex Ross wrote of this piece, “The music hovers out of reach, teasingly imprecise, yet viscerally beautiful. Each sonority hangs in the air like the smile of the Cheshire cat.” (You can read Ross’s essay on Ligeti here.)

Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado (13 minutes)

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