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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The problem of form in Gyorgy Ligeti’s Automne a Varsovie, from Etudes pour piano, premier livre Townsend, Alexandra


Composed in 1985, Ligeti's first book of six piano etudes is both a challenging and intriguing addition to the pianist's repertoire. This D.M.A. thesis begins with a general survey of the piano etude genre, followed by a brief discussion of Ligeti and his compositional style as demonstrated in some of his principal works. Hemiola, fractal math, the music of Conlon Nancarrow, and the music of the Central African Republic are then discussed as influences on the etudes. Automne a Varsovie, the final etude from the set of six, is analyzed with reference to its "lament theme," and to phrase structure, melodic organization, and the use of pitch and pitch-class space. The form is then contemplated in relation to ideas presented in writings by Jonathan Kramer and Edward T. Cone. Automne a Varsovie presents a formal problem: it can be perceived and understood both as a process and as a structure. Moreover, the three main divisions in the piece, where a climax is approached but then abruptly cut off, raise challenges for conventional analysis. In dealing with issues of the perception and interpretation of the etude's form, this study of Automne a Varsovie attempts to address the pianist's concerns in preparing a performance of this work.

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