Playful, satirical, touching, witty, bizarre, amusing – hardly words that one might attach to the heady world of contemporary music. There were however two great composers of the late twentieth century for whom they seemed perfectly applicable. One was Luciano Berio, and the other was György Ligeti – who died on 12 June.
Despite the best efforts of the regime that persecuted, frustrated and intimidated him for some forty years, Petr Eben enjoyed an international reputation as a composer and organist.
It won’t come as any great surprise that Raphael and I met through music, but it came as a surprise to me to remember that our first meeting was almost thirty years ago! Raphael came to play the John Ireland Piano Concerto with the City of Hull Youth Orchestra
The fates have been cruel to music recently, not least as far as composers are concerned – in the last few weeks of 2012 we lost Hans Werner Henze, Elliott Carter and Jonathan Harvey, as well as Dave Brubeck and Ravi Shankar. Then on Christmas Eve, Richard Rodney Bennett died in hospital in New York after a short illness.
We seem in Britain to have a natural suspicion of versatility, but even some of the more ‘superior’ obituaries that appeared following the death of Richard Rodney Bennett had to admit that he was a rare talent.