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Hungarian Composer István Láng has Died, Aged 90

The composer's style combined serialism and aleatoricism with the Hungarian folk flavor of Béla Bartók


The Hungarian composer and academic István Láng, who wrote four symphonies as well as operas, ballets, and chamber music, has passed away at the age of 90.

Born in Budapest in 1933, Láng remained in his hometown to study at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with the renowned Hungarian composers János Viski and Ferenc Szabó. One of the foremost Hungarian composers of his generation, Láng's style draws on the serial techniques and aleatoricism of composers such as Schoenberg and Boulez — though commentators have also noted Láng's similarity to the style of Bartók.

In some of his works, such as Gyász-zene (‘Funeral music’) and Laudate hominem, Láng determined the relative proportions of each movement according to a mathematical series, such as the Fibonacci sequence.

Láng also served in a number of interesting positions outside of composition. From 1966 to 1984 he worked as the musical adviser to Hungary's State Puppet Theatre, and in 1973 he took a teaching position in the chamber music department at the Liszt Academy — where he later rose to a professorship.

From 1978 to 1990 Láng was secretary general of the Association of Hungarian Musicians, and in 1984 became a member of the executive committee of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). He also served on the UNESCO International Music Council from 1989 to 1993.

In 2009 Láng's work was honored when he was awarded the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit.

Our condolences to Láng's family, friends, and colleagues.

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