Hungarian-born Austrian composer. He developed a dense, highly chromatic, polyphonic style in which melody and rhythm are sometimes lost in shifting blocks of sound. He achieved international prominence with Atmosphères (1961) and Requiem (1965), used as part of the score for Stanley Kubrick's film epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Other works include an opera Le Grand Macabre (1978) and Poème symphonique (1962), for 100 metronomes.
Ligeti studied composition at the Budapest Music Academy 1945–49 and taught there 1950–56. In 1956 he went to the Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne, Germany, and in 1959 was appointed instructor at the International Courses for New Music at Darmstadt. In 1961 he was visiting professor of composition at the Stockholm Music Academy, and eventually settled in Vienna, Austria. His mature music is experimental in nature, featuring complex textures which he called "micropolyphony", in which the individuality of a large number of separate parts is subsumed, giving the impression of a slowly changing single mass.
WorksOperaLe Grand Macabre (produced Stockholm, 1978).
OrchestralApparitions (1959), Atmosphères for large orchestra (1961), cello concerto (1967), Ramifications for string orchestra (1969), San Francisco Polyphony (1974).
VocalAventures for soprano, alto, and baritone with seven instruments (1962), Nouvelles Aventures for soprano and seven instruments (1965), Requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1965; Kyrie used in film 2001), Lux aeterna for 16 solo voices (1966), 3 Phantasien and Hungarian Studies, both for 16 voices (1983), Nonsense Madrigals for six voices (1988).
Chamber chamber concerto for 13 instruments (1970), trio for violin, horn, and piano (1982), Études for piano (1985), piano concerto (1985–88), violin concerto (1990), L'Escalier du diable for piano (1993).
OtherArtikulation for electronic sounds (1958), Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes (1962).