Here’s the (strangely unlisted) video that got me going down this rabbit hole:
“Most of it sounds like simply nothing else at all,” quoth Sir Simon. Now my curiosity was piqued. Could this Haas fellow truly have created such a novelty? Such statement must compel me (and all other snobs musicals) to find in every note, chord, and phrase an exact sonic equivalent somewhere else. Listening to this piece would be a challenge.
Lo and behold, that challenge turned to joy. Yes, this music does have notable influences: as Sir Simon mentioned, many tendencies in late Ligeti are distilled here, and there is Scelsi, and perhaps Ben Johnston, and certainly his fellow “Spectralist”* Gérard Grisey. But so what? In the end, this is fabulous music and in its combination of and expansion upon these various influences, it transcends them. Perhaps that’s what Sir Simon was getting at, but of course, one must be a cheeky literalist bitch and call such things out.
*[I've been totally meaning to "get into" Spectralism for a while now, and it turns out I did it and didn't even know it!]
Herr Haas himself
As SS says, this piece is indeed an hour long. I’ve listened to it five times now straight through, and it’s held my rapt attention on each occasion. I usually end up playing FLOW on my iphone even during Downton Abbey, the most entertaining show ever to exist, so that’s saying something. You can listen to it on Spotify, hear it on YouTube, buy it on iTunes or best yet, watch it on the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall. That way you get to see (rather, experience) the musicians playing in the dark. Speaking of which: how they be playing all this shit in the dark?? Color me impressed!
At the climax, all these shimmering fragments are derived from a fundamental C, meaning that the music accumulates a glorious sheen, like a new dawn of tonality. Repeated gong strokes add to the sense of elemental ritual. A revelation is at hand. But it all goes awry: notes bend from their “natural” paths, the lights come back up, the frantically scurrying figures return, and, after several herky-jerky accelerations and decelerations, the music abruptly switches off. And you finally understand the title: a new kind of beauty seems ready to come into the world, but in the light of day it falters, and we end up back where we started.
I didn’t act on Alex Ross’s words in 2011, but I exhort you to heed mine now: listen to this music!! It is totally baller!!
Hi blogfanz – I’m back, and I’m glad to be returning to our top 10 top 10 with List #8, the Top 10 BEST Composers, where by “BEST” we mean something along the lines of “Most Technically Accomplished”.
“Compositional technique” is a phrase that gets bandied around a lot (among a tiny, tiny élite of classical musicians and critics). But I don’t think I’ve ever heard it defined. Composers confront a series of Design Challenges and Execution Challenges as they write a piece. So, is a composer’s technique simply a question of how well he or she executes a given design? Is it possible to separate the design from the execution?
My favorite example of this conundrum is Gordon Jenkins, a composer/arranger from the Golden Era of pop music who wrote beautiful, lush arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, et al. As a composer, he specialized in writing “concept albums” for many of these collaborators.
His concepts for these albums were, in a word, ludicrous – Frank Sinatra taking a guided tour of outer space, for example. But the music he wrote to accompany his zany scenarios is gorgeous. It’s like, “yeah, if Frank Sinatra took a space ship to Saturn and then sang a jig about it, this is the best possible version of that jig.” You know?
Here’s what I came up with. We’ll talk more about the criteria at the end:
1. J. S. Bach (1685 – 1750)
Any person who writes a canon at the 7th, smoothly and gloriously, you do not mess with this person.
00:00 Impassioned 2-part counterpoint; violins v. lower strings; build-up to
00:11 The previous two lines are remixed into one, and this composite line is pitted against itself; build-up to
00:21 Dramatic tremolo in strings, winds play the main motive (ascending 3-notes), trombones recall the main motive from the previous movement of the symphony.
00:32 Letter D:
Violins and bassoon play the counterpoint from the beginning of this movement, flute and oboe keep playing the motive from the last section, long tones in the lower strings build drama and tension into
00:48 Parallel section to 00:21
This is what we call ‘tightly constructed’ – the themes all relate to each other, play against each other, appear and reappear, and build up into a large scale structure. But honestly, you don’t have to appreciate ANY of this to enjoy the symphony. This wealth of composerly technique is in the service of beautiful, dramatic, and emotional musical story-telling.
3. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
I say we let Lenny sort us out on this one:
4. (F.) Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
Now, a lot of the tricks that Lenny was just talking about w/r/t Beethoven, I’m convinced Beethoven learned from Haydn. That is to say – the guy (Haydn) was killer when it came to form. But he (Haydn) also happened to be really good at all the things Lenny claims Beethoven sucked at: melody, harmony, fugues, etc. Haydn dazzles us, leaves us spinning, and has a ball doing it.
So for all his fancy tricks, I’m going to present a passage that seems rather mundane – just 8th notes, in pairs. The trick though, is that he slowly modulates the harmony, dynamics, and instrumentation to bring us back to the opening theme of this, the last movement of his 88th Symphony:
It’s like you’re driving around some back country roads, and just when you think you’re totally lost, you look up and it turns out you’re back where you started. That’s Haydn.
5. Johannes Ockeghem (1420ish – 1497)
I’m hardly an expert on this composer or his music. But like many an undergraduate music major before and since, I did at one time learn about the staggering contrapuntal accomplishments of Flanders’ greatest son.
Let’s look at his most famous work, the Missa Prolationum, so called because of its extensive use of “prolation canons”. It works like this: you all know what a canon is – “Row, row, row yr boat”, “Frère Jacques”, etc., anything where one guy sings a tune and the other guy starts singing the same tune a little later and it all works out harmonically. Well, in a “prolation canon” (which is more commonly known as a “mensuration canon”), the two guys sing the same tune at different speeds. Normally, they have a relation to each other – like twice as fast or twice as slow.
They don’t always have to stagger their entrances either – they can both start singing at the same time and it still counts. Ockeghem took this idea of mensuration canons to the extreme. Here’s the Kyrie II from his mass. There are two melodies: one in the soprano and alto, and another one in the tenor and bass. The soprano and alto sing their melody at different speeds. The tenor and bass sing their melody at two entirely different speeds. What’s more, the two melodies are very closely related.
I don’t know where to even begin talking about Mozart’s ridiculous compositional technique, but you can’t do much worse than the final set of canons in his last symphony, No. 41 (the “Jupiter”). This piece is chock full of canons, fugues, and other contrapuntal devices – and yet, you never get tired of them (unlike, let’s admit it, Bach). It’s just one vivacious bar after another:
With a mind to the generalish audience that sometimes reads this blog (if anyone’s actually made it this far), let’s turn again to the Hungarian composer’s Nonsense Madrigals, based on texts by Lewis Carrol.
So what makes this so great? Well, first off, let’s figure out what’s going on.
Element the first: The tenor has a melody (“when the rain… when the rain comes tumbling down… in the country or the town”). Each of the three phrases of the melody begins the same and builds to a higher note. The rhythm of the melody is irregular – it has a rhapsodic quality.
Element the second: This piece is a passacaglia, which means there is a repeated, regular figure in the bass line. Ligeti does that and also includes the two baritones in establishing the pattern. So even though this pattern gets shifted from beat to beat, there is a regular pulse going on, grounding the music.
Element the third: When the altos come in, they pick up the tenor’s melody, but their rhythm mimics the regular pulse of the passacaglia people, but shortening their pulse by 1/4 of the value. Just to make things a little more complicated, at the top of the third system, the second alto starts drifting off into his own little world.
So again, what’s so great about this? It’s that Ligeti combines the elements in a way that gives the listener a simultaneous sense of regularity and irregularity – everything sounds natural but odd, logical but unpredictable. It works like a precision machine, as does much of his music, including the wild, 100-instrument scores from his early period.
9. Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)
I’ll admit, there’s occasionally things that are clumsy in Stravinsky’s writing – some of his meter and barring choices can be rather confusing at times – but the flaws are very minor, and easily overlooked when taken in context of his overall skills as a writer of music.
Since fugues seem to be a common theme of this list, here’s a great one:
Alban Berg, the shining light of the Second Viennese School, has gotten all too little love up in these lists so far. Finally, we’ve arrived at his category.
What I personally find so impressive about Berg’s writing is his ability to unite disparate elements. He chose to use a wide range of compositional tools: tonality, atonality, dodecaphony. He wrote waltzes and polkas, but infused them with eerie harmonies. He wrote startling, arhythmic sound masses and contrasted them with delicate, crystalline chords.
His opera Wozzeck is practically a textbook of compositional forms. But I’ve chosen the most famous passage from his Violin Concerto to illustrate how he so skillfully combined vastly different musical worlds:
Berg’s going from a huge dissonant cluster to a quotation of Bach. What’s admirable is the smooveness with which he does it: the chorale melody starts with a rising 4-note motive. He introduces this motive in the violin during the most dissonant music. Then he gives us the tune, but it’s set against slightly less dissonant music. By the time the winds enter on Bach’s harmonization, it makes all the sense in the world.
So, in choosing the composers on this list, I think I settled on the following criteria for great compositional technique:
1) handling of counterpoint (multiple, simultaneous lines)
2) tight motivic construction (building melodies and sections of music out of small themelets)
3) form (a logical succession of musical ideas, paced correctly so that the music seems to follow a logical flow)
4) ability to contrast and unite disparate musical ideas (which nobody does better than Schnittke, and I hate not including him on this list)
And then there’s the matter of, given their resources, how well did these guys write the stuff down on a score? Sibelius is one of my favorite composers, but his scores are a certifiable mess when it comes to logic and consistency. Ligeti’s scores are nearly as virtuosic in their meticulous layout and instructions as they are in their musical content.
So, y’all, what do you make of these criteria? And who fits it? My guys, or some other peops?
If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to let your voice be heard in the comments section!
Now we come to the vaguest of my Top 10 lists. As far as the qualities we’re looking for in a composer, this list has no more specificity to it than the original Top 10 Composers List what first inspired my project.
I like having this list be more open-ended though, because I think we’ll get a lot more interesting interpretations of what makes a good 20th/21st century composer and hopefully a lot of variety in musical style.
Obviously, music in the 20th century was a whole new ball game. First, there was this little thing called Sound Recording, which forever changed the ways in which music is created and disseminated. Then there wholly new channels of communication allowed us to out about all the tinkerers and oddballs, the hermits living in caves and railroad cars (not to mention the suburbs of Mexico city.) Supposedly at some point along the way, innovation trumped beauty as an aesthetic value in its own right.
OK now, before playing/judging, take a careful look at the title of this list: we’re not looking for composers who WORKED after 1900, we’re looking for composers who were BORN after 1900 (or during that year – so Copland is fair game; Poulenc is not.) It’s just another little tweak to make the game harder/more interesting. Maybe.
1. György Ligeti (1923 – 2006)
György Ligeti. The Ligster. “El Ligerino” (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). I think Ligeti is the best of what the 20th century is all about: he was a bold experimenter, he was a meticulous technician, and he forced musicians to reckon with the extremes of difficulty presented in his writing.
Ligeti’s music also forces listeners to confront their conceptions about what music IS (Poème Symphonique), yet it retains an obvious connection to the great music that came before him. He was part of several movements: Dada, Darmstadt, even “World Music” to a certain extent, but he was beholden to none of them.
His music is intelligent but not abstruse. He lived through some of the 20th century’s greatest atrocities (he even escaped a forced labor camp in Hungary) and yet he had a wicked sense of humor (his only work to bear a published opus number lists it as “No. 69″.) He lived and created in the tiny sphere of the European avant-garde, and yet his music became a part of pop culture.
Why do I love Alfred Schnittke so very, very much? There’s obviously the surface layer – the way that he can write a beautiful piece of music, then manipulate it 100 different ways. But that would be worth nothing if there weren’t a tremendous and powerful meaning behind it.
Schnittke was in every way a more subversive artist than his Russian forbears, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev. Admittedly, this was a much easier task for a Soviet artist working after the death of Stalin. But I think it says a lot about Schnittke that even after all the walls had fallen, when the great 2nd World had come to its knees, he could have used his enduring popularity (and yes, he is a national HERO in Russia) to forge a new, and undoubtedly lucrative career by playing ball with the new regime; instead, he refused the Lenin Prize and moved to Germany.
Schnittke was the first composer to make full use of historical styles as a means of musical story-telling. He was also the best. His creepy distortions of earlier musics suggest a commentary about the meaning an manipulation of truth – let’s not forget that during the Soviet era, subscribers to the Soviet Encyclopedia would routinely receive replacement pages to be glued into their volumes when certain artists and politicians had become “non-persons”.
The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is considered the great mystical figure of contemporary music. There’s something of an irony involved here: he’s well published, well recorded, well represented in the media (especially in film soundtracks), well studied by the academic establishment, and even a frequent interview subject.
But despite our access to the man and his music, there’s no denying the powerful sense of the mystic in his art. Pärt famously invented a system of writing counterpoint called tintinnabulation which mimics the ringing of bells. His melodies recall Gregorian chant. Amazingly though, his music doesn’t sound like an anachronism – it sounds like an eternity.
If you read David Hajdu’s Strayhorn biography Lush Life (and I certainly recommend that you do), you’ll find out just how very difficult it is to separate the contributions of this jazz legend from those of his constant collaborator, Duke Ellington. But Ellington was born in the 19th century, so that makes it easy to choose Strayhorn for this list.
As best I can tell, Ellington was the revolutionary, Strayhorn the poet. Ellington was nearly two decades Strayhorn’s senior, and while young Billy was still knee-high to a grasshopper, Duke was creating major innovations in harmony, form, and especially orchestration that would change the face of jazz composition.
But at the tender young age of 16, Strayhorn famously penned the aching and harmonically sophisticated ballad “Lush Life”. During the very same period, there was this little gem, a melancholy ode to Chopin entitled “Valse”:
I’m not sure why, but I somehow feel like Steve Reich is a better minimalist than a composer. It’s probably silly to even talk about such things, but I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else knows where I’m coming from.
His early pieces were tremendously innovative and they gave life to a whole new musical world. Sometimes they shimmer, sometimes they startle. Some can be preformed by just about anyone (“Clapping Music”), others require unerring virtuosity (“Piano Phase”).
Maybe it’s just me, but I find Reich’s newer work much less fresh and less skillful. But maybe it’s just that his music has infiltrated the entire musical panorama so thoroughly that I approach these more recent pieces with an unfair set of expectations.
Allow me to expand on the things I said about Sondheim last time. First, he loves many of the same composers that I do: he’s frequently listed his favorites as Ravel, Berg, and Rachmaninoff. Not to mention Bernard Herrmann.
So he takes those composers, mixes them with some more from the Great American Songbook (esp. Harold Arlen and George Gershwin), folds in the most brilliant lyrics in Broadway history, and voilà, you have a soufflé:
(Who knew “Little Red Riding Hood” could be so creepy and so funny when you set it to a mixture of Ravelian blues and meta-Music Hall strolling music?)
7. Ástor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992)
The great innovator of the Argentinian Tango, Ástor Piazzolla studied composition with the mythical French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. Piazzolla’s music is infused with the language of Bach and the early 20th century European modernists.
I liken his music to Haydn’s or Johann Strauss Jr.’s: his pieces aren’t written for the dance, they are written to tell the story of the dance. Each piece is a miniature scene – the cabarets and night clubs where he cut his chops are the setting.
Thomas Adès is the real deal: a composer who writes music that is both interesting and emotional, has the piano chops to back up his incredibly demanding instrumental ideas, and makes a living off writing and presenting his own works.
Add to that the fact that he’s adept at incorporating a variety of styles into his music and a natural flare for the dramatic (see The Tempest and Powder Her Face) and you’ve got a first rate composer.
Messiaen reminds me of two other composers on this list: Arvo Pärt, because of his fervent and mystical religious beliefs; and Ligeti because of their shared experience as prisoners during WWII (Ligeti had it much harder) and because they both wrote music that explores new ground while maintaining a direct connection to the romantic tradition (Messiaen’s is stronger).
But now that I think of it, there are more parallels: like Ligeti, Messiaen dabbled in various -isms throughout the 20th century and took only what he liked. Messiaen’s modal harmonies are often bear a passing similarity to Billy Strayhorn’s mellow sonorities.
It would be slightly insane to make a list of the “Top” composers born after 1900 and not include at least one person who primarily worked in the essential 20th century art form, film. Probably a lot of you will think it’s equally crazy to choose Alberto Iglesias, a semi-obscure Spaniard who’s only scored about 20 movies, to fit that bill.
My reasons: Iglesias takes the best things from other composers who rank among my favorites: Herrmann, Max Steiner, Miklos Rózsa – even Danny Elfman. Then he turns the volume up. He is an amazing orchestrator and user of instruments more generally. Much like Pedro Almodóvar, his primary collaborator, Iglesias speaks an altogether contemporary language but informs it with a thorough knowledge of history. Both gentlemen speak to our lightest and our profoundest selves.
Formulating this list was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that an instruction like “Pick the top 10 composers” would leave me adrift though. The good thing was that in choosing the contenders, I was able to better define my criteria.
I’m glad I used a fixed birth date as a criterion: for one thing, it made things easier than if I had gone with an even vaguer notion of “20th/21st century” composers, because then there would have been invited all this blabbing about who’s secretly a 19th century composer, etc. Choosing 1900 as a starting point for composer births was arbitrary enough.
I ended up going for a bon milieu approach: I preferred composers who were not afraid to experiment but who didn’t specifically align themselves with any group, and who made music that was both daring and beautiful. Not really any different then the criteria I would use for composers of any era.
Now, my conversants, to the comments section. The usual rules apply: make your own top 10 list or modify mine by replacing my selections with you own. There’s a whole lot of latitude in this list – much room to interpret that pesky word “Top” and bring in a lot of different ideas about music. Also, for this list please mention at least the birth year of your submissions.
Charlie Rose plays an inordinately large role in my life*. He is quasi avuncular – sometimes a chum, sometimes a father-confessor. In the space of a single interview – a single question, really – he can be simultaneously awkward and brilliant, bored and engaged. To gaze upon him is to know that he is a man of intense contrasts: how can one man look so boyishly handsome and so ruthlessly haggard at the same time?
*[in my head]
Charlie is my particular subject today because he’s been giving a lot of love to the classical music world lately, but we’ll get to that in just a second. I want to pause here to state publicly that even though I will fight valiantly to make sure cuff links remain a vital part of the male wardrobe, I love that Charlie just doesn’t wear them. In fact, sometimes he won’t even bother to button his ordinary cuffs:
And in that picture, he was in London for goodness’ sake! Ok though, enough about Charlie’s clothes. [And trust me, I could go on.] Charlie has always been a great friend to the classical music community, but there’s been a recent spate of interviews that I’d like to talk about. Let’s begin with the most interesting:
Valery Gergiev, in his 2nd or 3rd appearance on Rose, gave a blisteringly efficient and wide-ranging interview. This was the Charlie Rose broadcast at it’s best: engaging, insightful, convivial, mutually respectful. Plus, if anybody has ever embodied the phrase “rakishly handsome”, it would Valery Gergiev – which is astonishing in a world where we have Charlie Rose! [see above] Let’s just say, this was a meeting of equals.
Bar none, the most interesting part of this interview was the last five minutes, in which Charlie posed Gergiev one of the most surprising questions I’ve ever heard him ask: Who are the 5 (or 6) most important living composers in your eyes?
The reason for my surprise is that there are so few people in this world who are in any way interested living composers (the concert/art/academic kind, that is). Charlie Rose could not possibly have expected to recognize any of the names on Gergiev’s list (unless happened to fall under the elusive “unknown known” category), and yet he asked the question. I have never loved him more.
Let’s take a look and listen to Gergiev’s list of composers, shall we?
Shchedrin is an interesting choice, I’d say. Most Westerners, if they’ve ever heard of this composer at all, have only heard of one piece: the “Carmen Suite”, a sort of cartoonish, barbaric Russian ballet-fantasia on themes from Bizet’s Opera:
Shchedrin is often compared to Schnittke, and it’s not an unwarranted (though don’t get me wrong, I know Alfred Schnittke, and Rodion Shchedrin is no Alfred Schnittke). At his poppier moments, Shchedrin sort of comes off as Schnittke-meets-John-Williams. Gergiev makes a compelling case for the composer on his new album:
Dutilleux came as a surprise a) because I honestly did not know that he was still alive, and b) it’s not that he’s necessarily a bad composer, but I’ve never known anyone to be a major fan or champion of his music, and I certainly had no inkling that Gergiev might be that person (say in the way that Kent Nagano and Olivier Messiaen are associated w/ each other).
I’ve always thought of Dutilleux as a sort of solid but not terribly interesting mid-2oth century modernist. I don’t know much [his] of music, so perhaps that’s not fair. Give a listen and see what you think – this is the opening movement of his “Metaboles” and is the piece I’m most familiar with by him:
Raskatov is Gergiev’s near exact contemporary (they were born like 2 months apart). Raskatov has actually figured prominently on this blog before. Allow me to job your memory: he is the very person who painstakingly reconstructed Alfred Schnittke’s 9th Symphony. This was no easy job, and by all accounts, he did very, very thorough work. I mean, the piece that we can hear today sounds like Schnittke, and it’s all because of him. Respect.
The Schnittke symphony was released on CD and that’s how Raskatov first came to my attention. You see, he included a new piece, a Nunc Dimittis in Memoriam Alfred Schnittke (or Alfredom Schnittkom, I think, if we’re being correct about our Russian grammar.) And it’s like, honestly, can you hardly blame the guy if he wants to put his own piece on this album after doing all that work? I can’t – I’m sure I would have done the same thing. And it’s not that it’s a bad piece. It’s very Schnittkey, but you know, it’s just not going to come off so amazing in comparison when you pit it against this amazing transcendent work by an artist who was already halfway to the grave. Here’s maybe my favorite section:
With all due respect to Gergiev’s Ruskii compatriots, I would have started my list with Thomas Adès. Adès is arguably the most important, greatest, most tubular -whatever adjective you want to use- composer of concert music we have around these days. And it’s not a hard argument to make. Whether we all choose to realize or admit it, we composers today are living in the shadow of Ligeti. (In Russia, Schnittke is the looming presence. Give it time, and he will creep westward.)
Despite this pervasiveness, Adès is really the only major figure who is seriously grappling with the specter of Ligeti. And he’s none the worse for wear. Here is the first movement of Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, about a minute in:
It’s not that the two pieces sound all that similar – my point is that they seem to inhabit a similar universe but they are worlds unto themselves. The act of homage is subtle: both composers build rhythmically complex textures that are nonetheless extremely quiet; the effect is a luminescent haze of sound.
I think it’s significant that not only that Adès handles himself adeptly in a dialogue with Ligeti but that he’s chosen late Ligeti as his conversant [I might mention that Adès' concerto also shares aspects with Ligeti's Hamburg Concerto.] Again, he’s not an imitator or a provocateur or anything like that – he’s got a very strong singular talent, perhaps one of the few strong enough to really grapple with Ligeti’s writing.
1) Grigolo might be the most Italian Italian person I’ve ever heard. No offense to my Italian friends, but they tend to say in about 100 words what they could manage in 10.
2) You just know that right before the cameras started rolling, Charlie made Vittorio coach him on the correct Italian pronunciation of his name. Charlie really tried to retain this knowledge as he introduced his guest, and though this was definitely his most valiant effort yet at a foreign pronunciation, it still comes out gloriously mangled.
2) Plus, if you skip ahead to 16:42, you’ll see that Vittorio loves Charlie, and so do I.
3) Watch Antonio Pappano at the beginning of the show as Charlie is introducing him. Do you see him subtly lip syncing the whole speech? That’s kind of really weird, right?
Cultures wage wars in many ways, often leading to profound advances in human creativity and knowledge. They create opulent works of architecture, erect grand totems to their gods, and go exploring for uncharted territories and domains. But now there’s a new race: the race to teach little kids to memorize and perfectly execute the music of Leonard Bernstein.
I urge all parents: start now. If your infant’s first word isn’t “Maria”, we’re never going to cover the ground we need to. Make “Let Our Garden Grow” your nighttime lullaby. At birthday parties, replace the traditional “Happy Birthday” with the 4 Anniversaries of 1948 [but please avoid the 7 Anniversaries of 1988 at all costs.]
By the age of five, if your child can’t rattle off the opening lick of Trouble in Tahiti on the clarinet, or make at least a passable rendition of the piano solo from the 2nd Symphony, we will simply have to give up hope and demure to the accomplishments of a much greater culture.
PS. While we’re at it, let’s give Mozart a rest for the ABC’s and switch to Ligeti: