György Ligeti – Organ Study No. 1 ‘Harmonies’ (1967)

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Although György Ligeti composed only three works for the organ, ‘Volumina’, ‘Harmonies’ and ‘Coulée’, these pieces mark significant stages in the course of his compositional development; more importantly, they revolutionised the world of organ music and provided the initial spark for an entire wave of New Music for the organ. ‘Volumina’ completely dispenses with the parameters normally used to structure time in a musical work, such as melody, rhythm and harmony.

The only active structural parameter in this music is the tone colour. The music is perceived more in a spatial than a temporal sense, with the title referring to differently dimensioned ‘stationary’ sound spaces.

In the 11-movement piano cycle ‘Musica ricercata’ Ligeti explores the possibilities of using the 12 chromatic semitones for composition. One of the movements was arranged for the organ by Ligeti himself; the others have been arranged by the organist Dominik Susteck. Susteck, who performed and recorded these works on the organ of Kunst- Station Sankt Peter in Cologne, also presents an original composition: his organ improvisations ‘Sprachsignale’ which are inspired by Ligeti’s piece ‘Artikulation’. Play loud!

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