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Akadmiai Kiad

Music Theatre and Presence in Some Works of Gyrgy Kurtg


Author(s): Alan E. Williams
Source: Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, T. 43, Fasc. 3/4 (2002), pp. 359370
Published by: Akadmiai Kiad
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MusicTheatreandPresence
in SomeWorksof GyorgyKurtag
AlanE.

WILLIAMS
Salford

Giventhatthereareno worksforthestageby Kurtag,andthathis long-time


collaborator
AdrienneCsengeryhas reportedthatKurtagpositivelysuppressedanytendencytowardsthetheatrical
gestureinherperformance,
using
theword'stage'purelyin a pejorativesense,youmaywonderwhatI've got
to talk about.lAskingwhy thereare no musictheatrepieces in Kurtag's
oeuvre,you mightsay,is ratherlikeaskingwhythereis no churchmusicby
Bartok.Therejust isn'tany:it's a non-question.2
Yetthissamequestionappearsfrequently
inthediscoursesurrounding
Kurtag's
music,musicwhichis
frequentlydescribedas possessing'dramatic'qualities.Inan interviewbetween IstvanBalazs and AdrienneCsengery,which took place in 1985,
CsengerydescribesKurtag'smusic as "camouflagedoperas",3and this
phraseis subsequently
pickedupby PaulGriff1ths
in his ModernMusicand
After,4as well as by PeterHalaszin his 1995 articlefor Holmi,'Kurtag
Toredekek'
,5amongstothers.Indeed,thetoneof theoriginal1985 interview
revealsthatBalazswill notrelinquisha certainideef xe aboutthetheatrical
qualitiesof Kurtag'smusic,andhe posesa seriesof questionsto exposethis
idea.Csengeryrespondsinitiallyby statingemphatically
thatsheandKurtag
didnotdiscussthevisualortheatrical
natureofthe musicofthe Trussova
cycle ("Wedidn'tthinkaboutthestaging.Never.. . Kurtagneverbothershimselfwiththestage.Onthecontrary."
etc),andthenmovesfirstlyto a position
whereshegrantsthatthevocalcycles,suchastheTrussova
cycle,theScenes
from a Novel(op. 19), andtheAttilaJozsefFragmentswere,or presented
1 Balazs, in Spangemacher( 1986).
This in spite of Bartok'sjoining the UnitarianChurchin 1934 (source:UnitarianChurchof Hungary).
3 Balazs, op. cit.
4 GrifflthS, p. 283.
5 Halasz( 1995).
2

Studia Musicologica AcademiaeScientiarumBungaticae 43/34, 2002, pp. 359-370


0039-3266/2002/$ 5.00 c 2002 AkademiaiKiado, Budapest

AlanE. Williams

360

'dramas,'andfinallyto thepointwheresheconcedesthatKurtaghimself"in
thedepthsof his soulis clearthathe writesdramas."
Shethencoinstheterm
"camouflaged
operas"for the pianoworks,promptingBalazsto askswhy
thereareno "true"operas.Csengeryrespondsby tracingthisabsenceto the
lackof suitablelibretti,subsequently
revealingthatKurtaghasmadenumerous sketchestowardsan opera,andthatshe andherhusbandhadactively
soughtout suitabletexts for an operalibretto,includingSamuelBeckett's
shortplays.6

WhetheroneagreeswiththepositionBalazsandCsengerynegotiateor
not - thatthereis a 'latent'theatricalityin the music- one has to wonder
whatit is in Kurtag'sworkthatpromptsthisinsuperable
convictionin Istvan
Balazsthatthemusicis a kindof repressedtheatre,orasAdrienneCsengerzr
putsit, "camouflaged
opera".Whynot simplytakeKurtag'sstatedoppositionto thestagegesture- upto the 1985 interview,atleast- atfacevalue?
Obviouslythereis a differencebetween'drama'and'theatricality'
in
music,dramabeingconventionally
detectedby analogyin worksof anotherwise'abstract'nature- the concertoform,forexample- and'theatricality' givingthesenseof physicalgestureonstage,aswellashavingthepotentially pejorativeconnotationwhich Csengerysays Kurtagtakesfromthe
word'stage.'Whynot,then,simplysaythatKurtagcomposes'dramas'in
thesensethata Schumann
l,iederkreisis a drama?IntheinterviewI'vebeen
describing,Csengeryconcedesimmediatelya "latentdrama,"
whichwould
correspondwiththe latentdramaof a Romanticsongcycle, butthis is not
enoughforBalazs,whobeginsthelineof questioning
by speakingof a "tendencytowardsoutbreakontothe stage,"thusseekingthe theatricalrather
thanthesimplydramaticinKurtag.FollowingBalazs,I believethat,whileit
is not an overridingconcernof Kurtag'smusic,a certaintendencytowards
thetheatrical,
theoverblown,theexaggerated
gesturehasalwaysbeenpresent,andmoreover,accordingto somescholars,seemsto havebeenbecoming moreprominentin recentyears:RachelBecklesWillson,forexample,
has detected a sense of theatrein some of the later works, including
GrabsteinFur Stephan(op. 15b) and ... pas a pas - nullepart... (op. 36),
whichlatterpieceshedescribesas a "implicit,secretpantomime,"7
andMichaelKunkeldescribestheepilogueof Kurtag'sop.30aas an"acte sansparoles."8I wantto examinethebeginningsofthis later,if minor,concernwith
6

Balazs, op. cit.

7 Beckles Willson,R. (2000).


8 Kunkel(2001)

S?udiaAzIusicoleegica
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Music Theatreand Presence in Some Worksof GyorgyKurtag

361

thetheatrical
aspectof music,andalsodiscusstheconsequences
oftheuseof
musictheatre,oras I shalltermit, 'theatreof music'forKurtag'saesthetic.
Musictheatre/ theatreof music
Kurtaghaslongbeenconcernedwiththemusicalgesture,whichis oftenindicatedthroughexpressivemarkingssuchas scorrevoleandruvido,buthe
has also been concernedsincethe earlyseventiesmorepreciselywiththe
physicalgesturesmadeby the performer.In a pedagogicalmethodthat
seemsto reversethenormalorderof events,Kurtag'sJatekokstartwiththe
gesture,withoutworryingaboutthenotesthemselves,aimingto encourage
playwithunconventional
partsof the hand,in orderto give the youngstudentofthepianoa senseof physicalconfidencewiththeinstrument.
Thereis
a clearlyarticulated
didacticpurposeto thisconcentration
on whatconventionallyis regardedas theexternal,theinessential,anda footnotein volume
1of Jatekokmakes
thispurposeclear:
The pieces 'Walking,''Toddling,' 'Bored,' 'Let's be Silly' were composed for
small children,who cannot span the whole keyboardwhen seated. They may
thereforeplay them standingor walking- in a 'silly,' joking manner(. ..adults
may also play them in this way. . .).9

Butevenin thisfirstvolumeof Jatekok,one cansee Kurtagbeginning


to thinkabouttheperformer's
situationon stage,aboutthenatureof performanceitself:'Unottan'[Bored]forexamplerequirestheplayerto amble"to
andfro alongsidethe keys",andlater"walkbeyondthe keyboardabsentmindedly,then returnsuddenlywith rage."'Nemajatek(Veszekedes2)'
[DumbShow(Quarrelling
2)], in a kindof absenttraceof the first'Veszekedes,'instructstheplayerforthedurationofthe pieceto "touchthesurface
ofthe keysverylightly,withoutmovinganyofthem"(Example1).
Obviouslythe mainpurposeof such pieces is the developmentof a
senseof the expressivepotentialof the piano,withoutbeinghamperedby
concernforthenotesalone,butthesetwo extremeexamplesshowhow,in
the safe environment
of pedagogicalpieces,Kurtagis preparedto explore
the physicalgestureof the musician,not in this case on the stage,butcertainlybeforeanaudienceof at leastone.Herewe movebeyondthemusical
gestureandon towardswhatone mightcall the 'theatreof music.' Thepotentialis herefora performance
inwhichtheveryactofthemusician'sbeing
9 Jatekok, vol.I, p. 7A.
Stuctia.Isicologica Aca(temicleScientiarum[IzIngaricae43, 2002

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Alan E. Willian1s

362

on stageis seen as beingtheatrical,as in certainworksby JohnCageand


MauricioKagel.l
^1to

PAd0

1'+--t'^-

AL--

2')X
*1* bewg; e nuv rch zfe tasten ^w i1 e szh een
*lh
eFe Ixe
d 1 Zqs vee wItb>, whru nw6

fm
nY

0 .s

fX

{w1llwX

Example1. 'Nemajatek(Veszekedes2),' Jatekok,vol. 1

Thesymbolicandthe realembrace
Kurtag'sTranscriptions
from Machautto Bach arefrequently
performed
interspersed
withselectionsfromJatekok,andtheirrolein Kurtag'soeuvreis
rathersimilar.Pianoduetshavealwaysbeenan important
partof learning
theinstrument,
butduetsforfourhandsalsohavetraditionally
beena congenialactivitybetweenfriendsorfamilymembers.InaninterviewwithBalint
AndrasVarga,Kurtaghas remembered
two formativeexperienceswhich
tookplacein earlychildhood:dancingwaltzesandtangoswithhis mother,
andplayingduetswithfourhandswithhis her.WheneverKurtaguses the
waltzforminhisownmusic,suchas inScenesfroma Novel, andintheKaflca
Fragments, it is clearlywith a sense of sardonichumour,butthereis also
usuallya strongsense of nostalgia,bothfor a lost innocence,andone can
speculate,fortheintimacyof theseearlyexperiences.A similarexploration
ofthe physicalintimacyofthepianoduetsituationappearsintheTranscriptions, andin the fourthvolumeof Jatekok,whichconsistsof pianoduets.
Theseduetsofteninvolvetheplayersencroaching
on eachothers'territory,
as in 'Duhoskoral'[FuriousChorale],or,asthetitleof 'Kezakezben'[Hand
inhand]suggests,byplayingliterallyoverlapping
lines(Examples2 and3).
10 GrifElths,p. 181.
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MusicTheatreandPresencein SomeWorksof GyorgyKurtag

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Example2: 'Duhoskoral,'Jatekok,vol. 1V

17

Jor70wr

oJI

ltio

eco

sonore

Tempo4
X

#'

de

pO

Ped (1/2,/+ ad 145a1 fIne

Example3. 'Kez a kezben,'Jatekok,vol. IV

Sometimesthis ideaextendsto whatone mightterma symbolicembrace,


in which the lower handof theprimo plays lowerthanthe higherhandof the
secundo.Theplayersmustoverlap,andmustbe morethanusuallysensitiveto
eachother'spositionon thepianostool. In the transcriptions
this canbe found
in Die Sieben Worte,fragmentsandpieces by HeinrichSchutz(numbers1, 2
and 7), and in the 'Introit'fromthe SchutzMatthaeusPassion. In the fourth
numberkom this latterpiece ('Die JungerJesu') thereare severalvariations,
withthevoices transposedatvariousoctaves,demandingthatthepianistsplay
in a numberof positionsin relationto each other(Example4).
Here Kurtagreveals, perhaps,the pedagogical roots of the duets, but
again,whatis beingtaughtthroughthis is not merelythe musicalgesture,but
the sensitivityto the othermusicians,not simply throughsound,but beginSttoZia AI(sibolllgica

Avazewmi(le Sbientiarurn flz(nguribae 43, 2l)02

AlanE. Williams

364

Sri

Y}

ps

J1

Example4: 'Die JungerJesu,'HeinrichSchutz,MatthaeusPassion (Fragmenta),


in TranscriptionsfromMachautto J. S. Bach

ningwiththe gestureof the performerthemselves.Justas theJatekokappearedto reversethenormalorderof eventsbybeginningwiththe'external'


gesture,onceagain,it is the externalgesturewhichis beingcontrolledand
exploitedfordidacticpurposesin 'Die JungerJesu.'Inoneofthese,4b, the
gestureof intimacy,theembrace,is bothsymbolicallyandliterallypresent:
therighthandof thesecundois higher,andthereforeto therightof theright
handoftheprimo,whilethesecundo'sleiXt
handis lowestandthereforetothe
leftof theprimo's left hand.Whileotherphysicalconfigurations
arepossible,the logicalarrangement
is fora smallchildto playtheprimo,sittingon
thelapofthe secundo,whothusliterallyembracesthechild.Thisseemsespeciallyappropriate
givenKurtag'searliercommentsabouttherangea child
is abletoreachatthekeyboard:
theprimopartin4b is keptwithinanoctave.
"EineArtPantomime"
Untilnow the gesturesI've beendiscussinghavenotbeenaimedatperformanceon the concertplatform,butembodya kindof privatetheatre.The
f1rstovertuseofthe 'theatreof music'inKurtag'sworksintendedforprofessionalpublicperformance
is to be foundinA kiscsava, op. 1Sb,from1978.
IntheScherzo,movementIII,therearea numberof pausemarks,wherethe
playersare instructedto become"suddenlymotionless".Of course,this
wouldbethenormalresponseto a pausemarksituatedata pointatwhichthe
musicis aboutto continue,butwhy doesKurtagneedto speciifythe actual
gestureof stillnessitself?Herethemusic,whichis to be 'in suspension'accordingto Kurtag'snote,is embodiedby thephysicalgesturesofthe players
themselves;a line dividingthe musicalandthe theatricalgesturehasbeen
crossed.Theabsenceof movementin the caesuraeimpliesthata degreeof
>studiaMusitologita AcatlemiaeNcientitirumBungarisae 43, 20()2

Music Theatreand Presence in Some Worksof GyorgyKurtag

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movementon thepartof theplayersis required,as partof thepiece.Thisis


in laterpieces.11
thestartof a tendencywhichbecomesmoreprominent
As we haveheard,the rehearsalprocessfor the op. 17 pieces,which
tookplaceinthewinterof 1980-8 1,involvedKurtagandCsengeryworking
exclusivelyon theaural,ratherthanthevisualaspectto thepiece.Csengery
is explicitin statingthatKurtagregardedthe theatricalgestureas "forbidwasto beexpressedthroughthevoicealone.Rather
den"means.Everything
gestureasvalidforall
thantakingKurtag'sstatedoppositionto thetheatrical
of his pieces, and for all performers,it is possibleto imagineKurtagthe
gestureinher
teachersensingthatCsengeryreliedtoomuchonthetheatrical
this
tendency
in her case
and
seeking
to
suppress
performance
generally,
only.Nevertheless,thetheatreof musicremainslatentuntiltheKafkaFragonthereasonforitssudden,if meaments,op. 24, andit is worthspeculating
sured,returninthosepieces.
The interviewwith IstvanBalazstook place on July 1st 1985, and
the compositionof his still
Kurtaginterrupted
barelyfive daysafAcerwards
uncompletedpianoconcerto,in orderto give masterclassesat the 1985
Herehe startedto composethefirstfewsetBartokSeminarin Szombathely.
The
earliestdatesgivento thecomposition
tingsof theKafkaFragments.l2
of anyof the fragmentsis the6thof July1985,thedateon whichtheBart6k
began.Thisdateis givento two of the fragments,
Seminarat Szombathely
althoughin
the firstsection'sNo. 4, 'Ruhelos,'andNo. 6, 'Nimmermehr,'
'Ruhelos'
is
dated
"Szombothof these cases the datingis not decisive.
bathely,1985.VII.25 (VII.6-rol),"suggestingthatit wasindeedbegunprovisionally,andthenworkedupproperlyatthelaterdate;and'Nimmermehr'
is dated"1985. VII.6 - VIII.2 1,"againsuggestingthatthesewerethefragmentsthatKurtagbeganat the beginningof the BartokSeminar.The first
fragmentsofthe Kafk;aFragmentsmayhavebeen'forbiddenfruit'because
he shouldhavebeenworkingon the pianoconcerto,withwhichclearlyhe
the text fragmenthe dedicatesto Kocsisreadsin
was havingdifiSlculties:
English"Iwill notletmyselfbemadetired.Iwill diveintomystoryevenif it
shouldlaceratemy face.''l3Buttheremayhavebeenanothersenseinwhich
the Kafka Fragments were 'forbiddenfruit:'perhapsin responseto the
Csengery-Balazs
interview,atwhichCsengerydescribedthetheatricalgesKunkel( 1998) relatesthis gestureto one with exactly the same instructionin Ligeti'sAventures.
2 Dibelius, p. 81.
3 KafkaFragmente,1/17(score, p. 18).
kStutlia
AlasicologicaAcaclemiaeScientiaramH"ngcoricae43, 20()2

366

Alan E. Williams

tureas being"disallowedmeans,"Kurtagcomposed'Ruhelos,'the fourth


oftheKafkaFragments,anddirectsit to be playedas "akindof pantomime.
Thesingerfollowstheacrobaticsandtherageoftheviolinistwithincreasing
tension,excitement,moreoverfear,untilhervoice also fails in the end.''l4
Theonlyauralcontribution
thesingermakesis thefinal'breathed'ruhelos.
Thuswhereasin the Troussovacycle Kurtagrefilsedall theatricalgesture,
requiringthateverythingshouldbe expressedthroughthevoice alone,here
Kurtagallowsonly thetheatrical
gesture.Theentireroleofthe singer,whoit
is clearfromthe dedicationto the Csengery-Keller
duo in 'Nimmermehr,'
wasalwaysintendedto be AdrienneCsengery,is intherealmof thetheatrical. I haven'tbeenableto discoverwhetherornotthiswas a directresponse
to theinterviewwithIstvanBalazs,althoughthisis possiblegivenKurtag's
sensitivityto whatis saidabouthimininterviews.
Whetherit is a directreferenceornot,theKaJkaFragmentsmarka decisiveshiQinKurtag'sthinkingabouttheatreinmusic,andseveralmoreofthe
fragments
haveclearelementsof musictheatreinthem.Theuseofthe silent
mouthingofthetexton stage,whichis takento anextremein 'Ruhelos'also
appearsin the l9th fragment,'Nichtsdergleichen.'Herethetextofthe title
of the fragmentis repeatedobsessively"becomingmoreandmorehoarsemoreexcited- untilthe voice fails at last. The lips move herefasterand
fasterbutwithoutproducinga sound."Inthe 17thfragment,'Stolz( I9 10/15.
November,ZehnUhr),'as well as in the eighthfragment,'Es zupRemich
jemandamKleid,'thesame"erstarren"
[freeze]instruction
is givenas inthe
Scenes from a Novel. In the latterexample,the theatricalaspectis more
prominent,becauseof the unorthodoxway the violin is indicatedto be
played:likea guitar.
Thisnew use of the theatreof musicextendsevenbeyondthe gesture
itselfintothepositionsof themusicianson theconcertplatform.Infragment
Il/12,'Szenein derElektrischen,'
theviolinistis to usetwoviolins,onewith
scordaturatuning.Thecomposercallsfortwostands,oneforthemusicforthe
firstviolin,andoneforthescordaturaviolin.Thetnvostandsareplacedeither
sideof thesinger,so thatwhentheviolinistchangesinstrument,
heis madeto
walkaroundbehindthesinger.Thisis perhapspartlyforpragmatic
reasons:it
may be betterto have more space for the secondinstrument,
so thatthe
violinistdoes not get clutteredup. However,two smallnotes in the score
suggesta symbolicreasonforthisvisualgesture.Thewaltzin this 'scene'14 KafkaFragmente,{/4 (score,

p.

4).

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Music Theatreand Presence in Some Worksof GyorgyKurtag

367

itselfperhapsa referenceto his earlyyearsin Romania,bothbecauseof the


waltzitself,whichwe knowhe associateswithchildhood,andthefactthatthe
referenceis writtenin Romanianto the l9th centuryRomaniancomposer
Josif Ivanovici'smost famousworkthe DanubeWaves- is also marked
"Eusebius,"the observerof Schumann'sfamouspair of psychological
characters.
The followingvivo section,which is playedon the ordinary,
thesubjective,passionateside
non-scordatura
violin,is marked"Florestan,"
of thepair.lwhusthisnumber,withits directionto walkacrossthe stageis a
ofthetwocharacters
inplayinthefragment.
visualrepresentation
Musicand Presence
inKurtag'sworkduringthe
Inmanyways,themostsignificantdevelopment
of musicalspace.I don'twishto discussthis
1990'shasbeentheexploration
aspectof Kurtag'sworkin detailon this occasion,partlybecauseRichard
ToopandMichaelKunkelhavebothpublishedexcellentaccountsofthis development.l5
Butofthe piecesforlargerforceswritteninthelate1980'sand
the l 990's- the op. 27 . . . quasiunafantasia... andtheDoubleConcerto,
op.30b,Steleop.33, andMessagesop.34
SamuelBeckett.Whatis the Word
fur Stephanop. 1Sc,revisedin
- andoneshouldalsoincludehereGrabstein
1989- allexceptSteleandMessagesarewrittenwiththeideaof distributing
theforcesaroundtheroom.Moreover,all haveaspectsofthe 'theatrical'in
overthetop,suchasthebeginningofthe
theloosersenseofthe extravagant,
'Recitativo'in . . .quasiunafantasia...,wherebrassandtimpaniannouncea
withoutirony.Andboththeop.30 piecesre-enact
cinematictutti,apparently
on the concertplatformthe real stutteringof the actressIldikoMony6k
causedby a near-fatalcaraccident,whichpreventedherfromspeaking.Itis
. . .pasapas - nullepart... op. 36
notuntilwe getto the(asyetunpublished)
of musicianson stagein thewayit octhatwe get a repeatofthe interaction
(inthe
curredin theKafAca
Fragments.Inthis latterpiece,thepercussionist
actsas
theimpishMirceaArdeleanu)
1999Edinburgh
Festivalperformance,
of the baricourtjester,subtlyimitatingandmockingthe self-importance
tone.Itmaybe significantthatthevoice hereis a baritone:all theworksfor
solovoicesincehisop. II PilinszkysongsapartfromtheHolderlin:An...are
writtenfor soprano,so thatin ...pas a pas - nullepart... thepercussionist
canplaya Leporelloroleto thebaritone'sDonGiovanni.
15

In Beckles Willson- Williams(2001).

.Stuclic Musicologica

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241anE.Williams

368

Nonetheless,a commonfactorbetweenthese not strictly'theatrical'


worksandtheelementsof musictheatreI'vebeendiscussingcan,I think,be
arguedfor,andit is connectedwiththe secondpartof thetitleof my paper.
'Presence'is a termusedin thephilosophicaldiscourseof ontology,andhas
playedanimportant
rolein thedevelopmentof post-structuralist
thought.16
However,musichasremainedlargelyaloofto thesediscussions,so it may
seeman unfamiliaridea.Adornoin his 1954article'DasAlternderNeuen
Musik,'accusedcontemporary
composersof attemptingto createa "new
stateof nature,"in whichtheirmusicalutteranceswouldbe identicalwith
themselvesonly,andnotreferto anythingelse. Thisdrivethatcharacterised
modernismawayfromanyformof referencegeneratedanenormousquantityof newmaterial,butwasaimedatanever-retreating
goal:a 'pure'music
whichwouldnot owe its existenceto any otheridea.Thebelief in a 'pure
music,'withoutexternalreference- andthatmeanswithoutreferenceto
othermusic,aswellasto ideasorobjectsbeyondmusic'itself'- is a beliefin
musicaspresence,in ontologicalterms.As longas musicis a sign,it is involvedin a chainof reference,andis thereforenotfullyself-present.Thisis
obvious,if one stopsto thinkaboutit, butmusicologistsand- especiallymusicanalyststendto behaveas if musicwerefullyself-present,andit was
partlythisinfluencethatcreatedthedrivetowardsthemodernistgoalof the
'puremusic'in the firstplace.It'sespeciallyimportant
thatKurtag'smusic
is not treatedas if it werea non-signifyingobject,since Kurtaghimselfis
constantlyremindingus of itsontologicalstatusas a networkof (absent)reference,bothto himselfandto othercomposers,as well as to the outside
world.Thereis a dangerthattherejectionof hisearlyworkscouldbe seenas
anattemptto createa tabularasaon whichto createtrulyindividual,andin
theseterms,self-presentartworks;
butevenfromthestart,thereareelements
of referenceinthemusic.Hisrejectionofthepre-Paris
worksis notin favour
of a musicapura,butin favourof a musicoverwhosereferentialqualities
Kurtaghascontrol.17
Theuse of thetheatricalin musicis animportant
way in whichKurtag
remindsus ofthe music's ontologicalstatusas deferredpresence,andmarks
an ever-growingawarenessof this statuson the partof the composerhimself. Since the theatricalelementsI've been describingshow the performanceof musicitselfto be at leasta partlytheatricalprocess,it mustbe re16
17

Fora clearandauthoritativeexpositionofthis ideaandits applicationto music, see Monelle(1992), p. 306.


See Williams,'Kurtag,Modernity,Modernisms,"in Beckles Willson- Williams.

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Music Theatreand Presence in Some Worksof GyorgyKurtag

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inKurtag'stheatreof musicarethemselvespart
cognisedthattheperformers
ideaof musicalpertheyarerepresentingthe
ofthe processof signification:
formance.Thusthemusicinformsusthatit is notitselffullypresent:itspressense,'deferred.'Thisis a differentsituaenceis, in thedeconstructionists'
tionfromnormal'musictheatre,'inwhichthemusicmaysignify,butis subservientto an imaginedrealpresence,whichis the narrative,or the emotionalcoreofthe musictheatrepiece.Itmaybe hisgrowingawarenessof he
impossibilityof a truly'original'- or'originary'- musicthatto a certainextentfreedKurtagto makethe kindof musicalgesturewhichI describedas
thathas
'theatrical'ina loosersense,sincethenearlycripplingself-criticism
The
markedKurtag'scareerhasits originin a powerfuldrivefororiginality.
realisationthata trulyoriginal- andthereforefully self-present- musicis
impossible,therefore,gives Kurtagthe abilityto adopta numberof masks
withvaryingdegreesof irony,evento theextentof adoptingthemaskofthe
tutti.I don'twantto claimKurtagthen,as anexampleof
dramaticorchestral
composer,'sinceall musicinvolvesa chainof reference
a 'post-structuralist
ideas,butI do wantto claim
whichmakeit amenableto post-structuralist
Kurtagto be a composerwho is awareof thefailureof theideaof musicas
intermsof his ownmusic'sbeinganend'presence,'evenif it is formulated
less processof reference.His use of thetheatreof musicis just one way in
whichherevealsthisawareness.
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