Stanley Kubrick and György Ligeti

Watching all Stanley Kubrick’s films again, made me browse quite systematically through my discs of György Ligeti once again.
2001, A Space Odyssey brought (some of) the music of Ligeti to a wider audience. At first, Ligeti was shocked by Kubrick’s use of his music. The negotiations form the filmproducers were done with Peters, the music publishing company, and Ligeti first said that he never agreed to use so much of his music in the film, and added that he didn’t like the end result. He even started a lawsuit, but an agreement between Kubrick & Ligeti was settled during the process.
Later, as is visible in Jan Harlan’s documentary ‘Stanley Kubrick: a Life in Pictures’, Ligeti acknowledged that the film meant a lot for him and his music, and is even very praiseful for how music and images work together.

In the end, both Kubrick and Ligeti reinforced each other. Kubrick’s film made the music of Ligeti known outside of inner circles, and Ligeti’s music added a lot of strength to several pivotal scenes in 2001:

And they fit so nice together because both are about transcending classical observation patterns and ask the viewer and/or listener to pave their own path towards the experience, the appreciation and, eventually, interpretation.

(and yes, sometimes it is funny to see what pops up in the youtube ‘related’ list
– makes me think again of the very nice mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon – be sure to watch that one, and don’t get fooled!)

In The Shining, Kubrick’s masterpiece regarding the intertwining of music and film, he uses Lontano by Ligeti to accompany scenes regarding the ‘shining’ – paranormal abilities:


In his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick used again music from Ligeti, this time a fragment from the piano solo cycle Musica Ricercata. The short fragment that builds tension by the use of minor seconds (a half step), is used throughout the film at pivotal moments. Here, Bill (Tom Cruise) is forced to reveal his true face:

as a small extra: stellar pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays a piece of Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata


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