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Abstract

György Ligeti was very interested in many artistic and scientific fields and drew inspiration for his compositional work from them (his engagement with mathematics – particularly fractal geometry and chaos theory – is perhaps the best known). In this chapter I compare the concept of artistic research with Ligeti's practice and oeuvre. While the notion of artistic research was only appearing in embryonic form during the latter stages of Ligeti's career, many – though not all – of his statements seem to be suitable for describing his artistic processes. The benefit of this investigation is expected to be twofold: applying the concept of artistic research to Ligeti's approaches and practices should yield new insights on the relationship between his work and his interest in other humanities and sciences. Yet this look at Ligeti may also help to refine the concept of artistic research as discussed and applied to the artistic output of today.

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This essay identifies three reasons that help explain why György Ligeti was highly active as a speaker and author of texts about music throughout his career. He thereby replenished his income (particularly before 1973), asserted his auctorial authority vis-à-vis musicological interpretations and — at least indirectly — secured a better “share of the market” for his own music by being present in the public eye. This essay also discusses the reliability of Ligeti’s assertions which warned against an overreliance on composers’ views on the part of musicologists.

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