Ligeti: Lux Aeterna

Duration : 9 minutes

The Radio France Choir, conducted by Zoltan Pad, performs György Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna". Excerpt from the concert recorded live on 16 March 2019 at the Radio France Auditorium.

Lux Aeterna was premiered on 2 November 1966, upon the request of conductor Clytus Gottwald, who produced a recorded with his ensemble of 16 solo vocalists at the Schola Cantorum in Stuttgart. Lux Aeterna, which means "Eternal light", is one of the texts of the Mass for the Dead (Requiem) that \1never included in his Requiem composed between 1963 and 1965. Not only did the work become an important part of the contemporary choral music repertoire, it also enjoyed an unexpected publicity following its use in 2001: A Space Odyssey (during the scene in which the human race make first contact with an extraterrestrial entity, the Monolith). However, Stanley Kubrick did not ask Ligeti permission for use of the work, eventually leading to a legal trial.

The sound world created by Lux Aeterna is indeed more "luminous" than that of the Requiem. Györgi Ligeti himself qualified it as "metallic". The harmonies change almost imperceptibly, only noticeable after a long period of time: thus the idea of eternity. The Hungarian composer compared Lux Aeterna to this image: "Upon the still surface of a body of water, we see the reflection of an image, and then ripples disturb the surface of the water, the image changes and disappears. Very gradually, the water's surface stills itself, upon which then appears a new image, different."

Concert, from "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Full concert
From "The Shining" to "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Maison de la Radio, Paris
György Ligeti
All artists
  • Zoltan PadChoirmaster
  • Choeur de Radio FranceChoir