Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes

Saturday 21 April 2018,
Reading Room
Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

The festival is organised by the British Museum and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and made possible by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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György Ligeti (1923–2006) was one of the 20th century's greatest avant-garde composers, with a particular focus on textures. One of his recurring styles was 'meccanico music', where the instruments imitate clocks ticking, but all at different speeds.

The most extreme version of this is his Poème Symphonique, composed in 1962 for 100 metronomes. The metronomes are all set off at the same time at different speeds and gradually stop once they have run down. At the beginning, this gives a cloud-like sound cluster, but later on you can begin to hear individual metronomes, sounding much more like clocks.

These performances take place in the Reading Room, which is temporarily reopening for the festival. In the place where countless famous readers studied, reflect on the relationship of time, knowledge, arts and spiritual echo.

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The Reading Room.