Dissertation Index

Author: Power, Richard S.

Title: An Analysis of Transformation Procedures in Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet No. 2

Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Begun: April 1994

Completed: July 1995


Gyorgy Ligeti's emigration from Hungary to Austria in 1957 gave him his first chance to study serial music firsthand. After a brief period of reflection he decided that serialism was not for him, but the insights gained from his examination of it, as well as his new experiences in electronic music, enabled him to develop a uniquely individual style based upon the transformation of musical parameters from one state to another. These transformation procedures are one of Ligeti's primary means of articulating form within his works.

Although a great deal has been written about Ligeti's music, the importance of transformation procedures as a formal determinant has been largely neglected. The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze those procedures within the context of his String Quartet No. 2 (1968). This work is the first since his emigration to the West in which Ligeti explored the structural implications of a composition with more than two movements, and he has revealed in program notes and interviews that each of the Quartet's five movements follows the same formal plan, although on the surface they display widely different characteristics of expression and technique. After analyzing the movements individually in detail, it is shown that a series of fourteen stages occurs in each one.

Following a brief biographical portrait of Ligeti the second chapter examines general features of his musical syntax. The third chapter discusses the general harmonic and rhythmic considerations within the Second String Quartet, as well as the various methods used to analyze the harmonic and rhythmic transformations. The fourth chapter proceeds with a detailed, objective analysis of each movement. Chapter five is more subjective in character, describing the fourteen-stage formal plan and how it is manifested within each movement.

Keywords: Ligeti, transformation, form, quartet, harmony, rhythm, violin, viola, cello, 1968


Chapter 1: Biographical Information
Early Years
Life Following World War II
Emigration to Germany
Chapter 2: Ligeti's Musical Syntax
"Metamorphosis of Musical Form"
"States, Events, Transformations"
Ligeti's Style During the 1960's

Chapter 3: General Harmonic and Rhythmic Considerations Within the
Second String Quartet
Harmonic Transformations
Linear Motion
Rhythmic Transformations
Chapter 4: Analysis
First Movement: "Allegro nervoso"
Second Movement: "Sostenuto, molto calmo"
Third Movement: "Come un meccanismo di precisione"
Fourth Movement: "Presto furiosos, brutal, tumultoso"
Fifth Movement: "Allegro con delicatezza"
Chapter 5: Formal Parallelisms


Richard Power
538 East Main St.
Danville, KY 40422
email: RichardSPower@gmail.com
phone: (859) 236-7616

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