This list contains some of the most significant works by Ligeti in roughly chronological order. A bit of a listening guide to his musical world.
1. Balada si Joc for 2 violins – One of his earliest surviving pieces. Written for 2 violins in 1949 and later orchestrated as the second movement of his “Concerto Romanesc”.
2. The dark, bartokian “Andante tranquillo” from his String Quartet No 1 (Métamorphoses Nocturnes) from 1953-54.
3. Atmospheres (1961), his signature orchestral work. Written after his escape to the West and his studies at the Electronic Studio in Cologne, it marked a radical new departure. The orchestra is used in large, slowly shifting fields of sound.
4. Aventures (1962) – Fluxus, Schwitters and Dada- influenced theatrical deconstruction of language and vocal music.
5. Lux aeterna (1966), his hautingly beautiful work for 16 part a capella – chorus
6. Lontano (1967). His personal view on spatial and historic distance.. Mahlerian depth and distant horns. His orchestral masterpiece.
7. Movimento preciso e mecanico, the third movement from the Chamber Concerto (1970). A room full of clocks, which is a childhood image that followed him around, all his life.
8. Hungarian Rock (1978), which makes the Harpsichord sound like a rock guitar.
9. The Prelude to “Le Grand Macabre” (1977/96), his one and only opera about big words, drinking, sex and the end of the world. A true grand opera with a Monteverdi- type prelude for car horns.
10. “Lamento” – the haunting last movement from his Horn Trio (Hommage to Brahms, 1982)
11. “Tancdal”, the second movement from “Sippal, Dobbal, Nadihegedüvel” (2000). His last take on hungarian folk and the texts of Sandor Weöres for Soprano and Percussion Quartet.
12. Two movements from his Magnum Opus for Piano, the Etudes (1985 – 2001) – the polyrhythmic No 4 Fanfares (which also appears in the Piano Concerto) and No 5 Arc-en-ciel, where the music evokes a rainbow.