Classical music

Gyorgy Ligeti
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The Independent Culture
If you like your music to be about more than just music - philosophy, for instance, or maybe humour - then Gyorgy Ligeti is your composer. This is the musician who can sign off a score with a quotation from Alice in Wonderland, or devise an opera from a story about people who miss the end of the world because they are too busy making love. It isn't just joking. There is a surreal, fundamentally serious purpose to this musical equivalent of pulling the carpet out from under the feet. It properly features in next week's "Ligeti through the Looking Glass" at the Royal Academy of Music - eight concerts from Tuesday to Friday, plus films and talks, with Ligeti due to be present throughout.

This is a very ambitious project for a conservatoire, but the Academy has been putting on this kind of spectacular for a decade now. Nearly every year, a prominent living composer, or group of composers, becomes the subject of intensive study by students from January through to the spring. All the main student performing groups rehearse special programmes, and the outcome is a fully rounded portrait, delivered at professional standards, with the extra energy that comes from young players getting to grips with a whole new world.

Tuesday and Friday evenings have the biggest-scale events, with concertos and orchestral pieces including a suite from Le Grand Macabre and the "spacy" Atmosphres. Lunchtimes and the other evenings see chamber groups and choral music. The highlight of the non-performed events takes place on Wednesday afternoon, when Ligeti is in conversation with the conductor Elgar Howarth.

See listings for details

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