The fragment and the fragmentary in the music of György Kurtág

Scheuregger, Martin (2016) The fragment and the fragmentary in the music of György Kurtág. In: Musicological Conference on the 90th Birthday of György Kurtág, 2-3 June 2016, Budapest, Hungary.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


György Kurtág is a composer whose concern with fragmentation runs deep into individual pieces, whilst seeming to splinter his oeuvre. His relatively select number of works includes many that manifestly deal with the notion of “the fragment”: the pinnacle of these is his op. 24, Kafka Fragments (1985-1986). This paper takes perceptual, analytical and compositional precedents as a starting point for creating a framework in which the notion of fragmentation in Kurtág’s music can be understood. Taking on board ideas from Jerrold Levinson, Robert Fink, Schenker and others, this exploration will use Kafka Fragments as a case study for how fragmentation is used to create unity in this music. Details of a thorough analysis of the work will be explored to show the manner in which fragmentation as a musical concept is engaged with. This analysis will help to build an understanding of the technical elements of the music, leading to a discussion of how these may be perceived in the context of fragmentation. It will be demonstrated that, despite its often-disjointed nature, a high degree of unity is created through recurrent thematic material, temporally-dislocated connections and a careful structuring of material. This paper builds on and explores the findings of the author’s recent article recently published in Contemporary Music Review, “Fragment, Time and Memory: Unity in Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments” (Contemporary Music Review, 33/4, November 2014).

Keywords:György Kurtág, Fragmentation, Hungarian Music, Musical analysis
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
Relation typeTarget identifier
ID Code:25436
Deposited On:04 Jan 2017 11:26

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