A Sad Day
Today Ligeti died. I cannot help but feel a personal loss: he was perhaps my favorite living composer. I've always thought of him as something of a carnival barker, a ringmaster presiding over a world of hysterical, phantasmagoric, vivid sound, posessed of something too rare: a thoroughly original voice. His music--even the early, thorny string quartets--always bristles with quirk, never satisfied with simply being "in a camp." He always grew; he always changed; and he always mis-heard whatever was around him in the most deft and fascinating way.
For years I have kept a mental talley of favorite operas that will never be written, to the anguish of all of us who love music: Stravinsky's collaboration with Dylan Thomas; Benhamin Britten's incomplete Anna Kerenina; Copland's discussed collaboration with Thornton Wilder; whatever Chekov and Tchaikovsky might have done together; Beethoven's Bacchus; Wagner's life of Jesus; Brahms'. Now I, sadly, will add Ligeti's Alice in Wonderland to the list--unless someone out there knows something I don't.
Now, as I type, I am listening to those honking carhorns at the beginning of the recently departed composer's operatic masterpiece Le Grand Macabre and smiling. Music this mad, this ingenious, this demented, deserves to be loved.