Gyorgy Ligeti

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Date: 1923-2006

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Music

Gyorgy Ligeti.jpg

Artist: Gyorgy Ligeti

Confronting Bodies: The Composers' Union, a committee set by the Communist regime to review music.

Dates of Action: Late 1940's-Early 1950's

Location: Hungary

Description of Artwork: Ligeti's music had been influenced by the works of modern composers such as Strauss and Bartok. When these were censored he turned instead to the uncensored music of the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Most of his early pieces were for chorus or experimental.

The Incident: In the early 1950's, all musicians had to pass work through the Composers' Union (Which was overseen by the KGB), which would decide if a piece could be performed. Legeti saw much of his work banned for minor reasons. For example, one was banned for having "ended with a minor second interval between mezzo-soprano and tenor." These were deemed too modern and "bourgeois," therefore making them unfit to be performed.

Results of Incident: For the next several years, Legeti decided his serious works must be written in secret and were locked in his drawers. He left Hungary for the West in 1956 after the Hungarian revolt had been put down. He kept his works with him, hiding them as he crossed the boarder into Austria.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.