June 17, 2020

Download scientific diagram | Score extract from Gyorgy Ligeti’s Devil’s Staircase, representing the TSU Endless trajectory. Reprinted with kind permission of. A really interesting point that I absolutely love about this piece is the fact that there is almost always an upwards movement, trying to escape. So this week I decided to study “The Devil’s Staircase”, by Hungarian composer, Gyorgy Ligeti. The piece is heavily technically difficult as well.

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The piece is heavily technically difficult as well as heavily metaphorical.

This bonkers Ligeti etude could be the loudest piece we’ve ever heard (it has EIGHT fortes)

For me, the images created within this piece, are generated by the use of the initial leaps of 2 octaves and a 6th — perfectly imitating the physically disjunctive motion of walking up the stairs. By the last third of the first stave, the piece still moves polymetrically up and down the piano, but the intervals begin to narrow, and as a staircasd, this subtly thickens the texture.

In staircwse 3, the bass takes on the role of being a percussive driving force. The piece, thus far, seem to lean towards this point, and one might expect a climax, but in bar 18, the consistency of texture, and pitch material drop instantly — much the same as bar stave 3. Again, the imagery this conjures is that the journey begins again — the fleeing soul has made it half way, and has now been thwarted, and must again begin its journey.


The piece continues in this way — ascending for vast periods of musical time, then returning down again, instantaneously. As the piece goes on, the ascending sections reach higher and higher closer and closer out of hell? This is until there is a sudden and unexpected mood change.

The Piece ascends and ascends to shaircase extreme upper pitches of the piano. The very consistent and constant pulse throughout the piece remains intact, as the highest notes are played at extreme dynamic levels, when, all of a sudden, this consistency is destroyed, with a sudden shift to a very long and slow bass chord played at the lower extreme of the instrumental range.

Ligeti Etude The Devil’s Staircase | Monash Composers

All in all, I got a lot out of studying this piece — I really enjoyed the musical metaphors that were used in this piece, and Staicase found this piece thoroughly entertaining for this very reason. Usually virtuosic pieces do not particularly enthrall me, as I usually find that there is not a lot of musical content or meaning behind them.


A great listen, I recommend. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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This bonkers Ligeti etude could be the loudest piece we’ve ever heard (it has – Classic FM

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