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György Ligeti

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Romania (1923 – 2006)

György Sándor Ligeti; (May 28, 1923 – June 12, 2006) was a Jewish Hungarian composer born in Romania who later became an Austrian citizen.

Ligeti received his initial musical training in the conservatory at Kolozsvár (Cluj, Transylvania, Romania). His education was interrupted in 1944 when, as a Jew, he was forced to labor by the Nazis. At the same time his parents, brother, and other relatives were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, his mother being the only survivor.

Following the war, Ligeti returned to his studies in Budapest, graduating in 1949. He studied under Pál Kadosa, Ferenc Farkas, Zoltán Kodály and Sándor Veress. He went on to do ethnomusicological work on Romanian folk music, but after a year returned to his old school in Budapest, this time as a teacher of harmony, counterpoint and musical analysis. However, communications between Hungary and the west had been cut off by the then communist government, and Ligeti had to secretly listen to radio broadcasts to keep abreast of musical developments. In December of 1956, two months after the Hungarian revolution was put down by the Soviet Army, he fled to Vienna and eventually took Austrian citizenship.

Before Ligeti emigrated to the West, his work was limited by political repression and censorship, which restricted access to new musical ideas and discouraged public presentation of experimental music.

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