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LIGETI’S POÈME SYMPHONIQUE: THE PREMIERE IN 1963

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'Concert for a hundred ticking things'

On 13 September 1963, during the final concert of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, the legendary piece Poème Symphonique by Hungarian composer György Ligeti premiered, commissioned by Gaudeamus. A piece for 100 metronomes that are switched on simultaneously in different tempi, resulting in a polyrhythmic jungle.

Poéme Symphonique was premiered in the city hall of Hilversum. The premiere was filmed to be broadcast on television a day later, but the piece caused so much disturbance that the Hilversum municipality requested the broadcaster not to do so. The footage disappeared in the archives, where it was only rediscovered a few years ago. Watch the entire premiere below. After the piece, Ligeti himself gives an explanation.

During the Gaudeamus Muziekweek van 2020 Poème Symphonique was performed again in a way that was fitting to this year of corona: the metronomes were spread across living rooms all over the world, which were all connected via Zoom. In this way, the renamed Poème Zoomphonique shows that experiment and playfulness survive even from a distance.

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