Ligeti Festival #3 | Thanatos in Contemporary Music: from the Tragic to the Grotesque

The Association “Transylvania Art and Science”, Cluj-Napoca, Romania in collaboration with the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy Cluj-Napoca is pleased to announce the International Conference Thanatos in Contemporary Music: from the Tragic to the Grotesque – October 30th and 31st, 2020 (ZOOM platform, each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Romanian time).

The event is organised within the Festival A Tribute to György Ligeti in his Native Transylvania – 3nd edition, supported by:A.F.C.N. Romania and the Town Hall of the city of Cluj-Napoca. Festival director: Dr. Bianca Ţiplea Temeş.

The present edition of the festival reflects the ways in which the subject of death is approached in contemporary music and Ligeti serves as an ideal focus for both the conference and its accompanying concerts. In the context of the current global pandemic, this might be said to be rather darkly appropriate, especially at Halloween in Transylvania.

Between the volatile, sublime ”Lux aeterna”, the dramatic ”Requiem”, the evocation of Romanian folk laments in the Piano Étude ”Automne à Varsovie” and the strong grotesque flavour of the opera  ”Le Grand Macabre”, Ligeti´s music explores a wide range of funebral nuances. Through his music, researchers are invited to explore the music of many other composers whose work occupies similar emotional terrain.

The conference brings together contributors from leading European and American Universities, aiming to outline the many masks of Thanatos, as a kaleidoscope made by pieces of Béla Bartòk, Arnold Schönberg, György Ligeti, Bruno Maderna, Ștefan Niculescu, Myriam Marbe, Zoltán Jeney, Violeta Dinescu, Doina Rotaru, Zygmunt Mycielski, Roman Palester, Dan Dediu, Kaija Saariaho, etc.

The conference concludes with the presentation of the new volume A Tribute to György Ligeti in his Native Transylvania, edited by Bianca Țiplea Temeș and Kofi Agawu at MediaMusica, Cluj-Napoca.  

We welcome participants from around the world to attend this event via ZOOM, by filling in the FREE REGISTRATION FORM, by October 25th:

The festival will be streamed online,

between October 28th to November 1st, 2020, at

Conference program:

Hermann Danuser (keynote speaker) (Humboldt University Berlin): Memorial-Topic in the 20th Century, or: Schoenberg’s Modernist Genealogies

Wolfgang Marx (University College Dublin): “a long time spent in the shadow of death”. Death and Mourning in Ligeti’s Music 

László Vikárius (Bartók Archives, Institute for Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities Budapest): “This is my death song”: Between “funèbre” and “grotesque” in Béla Bartók’s Compositions of 1908

Zoltán Farkas (Béla Bartók Memorial House, Budapest): Zoltán Jeney’s Funeral Rite

Amy Bauer (University of California, Irvine): “Are you dead, like us?” The liminal status of the undead in the music of Ligeti

Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw): Zygmunt Mycielski’s “Rescue” songs to words by Czesław Miłosz and Roman Palester’s “Requiem” – two ways for reflecting death in Polish music shortly after WW2 

Benjamin Levy (University of California, Santa Barbara): Death in Hamburg? Memorial Aspects of Ligeti’s Late Concerto

Olguța Lupu  (National University of Music Bucharest): From Thanatos to Elysian Fields in Dan Dediu’s Music

Elena Maria Șorban (Gh. Dima National Music Academy Cluj-Napoca): Exercises on Dying? Reflexions on Ligeti’s Unpublished Early Latin Cantatas

Pavel Pușcaș.(Gh. Dima National Music Academy Cluj-Napoca): Bruno Maderna’s Requiem

Bianca Țiplea Temeș (Gh. Dima National Music Academy Cluj-Napoca): The sound of tears falling: the Dawn Song (Cântecul zorilor) in Romanian composition