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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gyorgy Ligeti, composer, dies at 83

The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria — Composer Gyorgy Ligeti, who survived the Holocaust and fled Hungary after the 1956 revolution, then won acclaim for his opera "Le Grand Macabre" and his music on the soundtrack for "2001: A Space Odyssey," died Monday. He was 83.

Mr. Ligeti, celebrated as one of the world's leading 20th-century musical pioneers, died in Vienna after a long illness, said Christiane Krauscheid, a spokeswoman for publisher, Germany-based Schott Music.

Mr. Ligeti was born in 1923 to Hungarian parents in the predominantly ethnic Hungarian part of Romania's Transylvania region. His father and brother later were murdered by the Nazis. He took Austrian citizenship in 1967 after fleeing his then-communist homeland.

He began studying music under Ferenc Farkas at the conservatory in Cluj, Romania, in 1941, and continued his studies in Budapest. But in 1943, he was arrested as a Jew and sentenced to forced labor for the rest of World War II.

After the war, Mr. Ligeti resumed his studies with Farkas and Sandor Veress at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy.

Mr. Ligeti attracted wide atttention for "Macabre," which he wrote in 1978.

He won early critical acclaim for his 1958 electronic composition "Artikulation" and the orchestral "Apparitions." He gained notoriety for a technique he called "micropolyphony," which wove together musical color and texture in ways that transcended the traditional borders of melody, harmony and rhythm.

Excerpts of his "Atmospheres" (1961), Requiem (1963-65) and 1966's "Lux Aeterna" were used on the best-selling soundtrack for Kubrick's "Space Odyssey." Although the music was not the film's well-known fanfare, which was composed by Richard Strauss, it won Mr. Ligeti a global audience.

Kubrick returned to Mr. Ligeti in 1999, using the composer's Musica Ricercata II (Mesto, rigido e cerimoniale), as the theme for his final film, "Eyes Wide Shut."

Mr. Ligeti for a time also lived in Germany and San Francisco and was a visiting professor at the Stockholm Academy of Music.

Mr. Ligeti is survived by his wife, Vera, and a son, Lukas, a percussionist who lives in New York. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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