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Cross Mark

The Ligatura-Messages, op. 31b reveals an important aspect of the fragmentary mode of writing of György Kurtág: the meaning of the message which is to be expressed by music resides within the framework of a fundamental dialogic exchange between the author (the source) and the listener (the recipient) through the mediation of the instrumentalist (here, a violoncellist using two bows simultaneously). The stylistic features (the ligatures, which remind one of the partiality of the composer for Gregorian plaint-chant) are woven into the very fabric of the meaning; this is the way in which Kurtág enhances the value of the fragment, the Ligatura-Message which is also the haunt of memories, a place of remembrance both from the autobiographical viewpoint and the viewpoint of musical historiography. In this particular piece, the music of uncertainty can be perceived through the paradoxical pattern of the answered unanswered question, which may suggest that the piece is an answer to Charles Ives's Unanswered Question. The study of the similarities and differences between the two works tends to underline the dual essence, the open-endedness of the Kurtágian fragment.