As we finished, he suddenly said: "I hope these new harmonies will work, but I'm not sure. We will see. You know, I have no confidence in myself ..." When I protested that this was impossible, he gently responded: "But I don't. I know I should, but I don't. I'm basically doing all I do in the most amateur way, just trying to realise something that I imagine in my ear, in dreams. I use techniques, of course, but I forget them after writing and I have no overall scheme or permanent procedures. People of my generation truly believed that music could be explained and structured in a pseudo-mathematical way, but I never believed that."
And the answer is ......
A number of readers emailed in the right answer, and they were split pretty well equally between those that recognised the composer behind the quote, and those that pasted the quote into Google. The prize of a virtual bottle of champagne goes to the Frankfurt-based Californian composer Daniel Wolf who blogs on the esteemed Renewable Music for this answer:
Hello -- the mystery quote is definitely from Ligeti. The subject matter is his late concern with harmony based on mixed spectra and the false modesty and over-polite slight on his contemporaries is typical Ligeti. A great composer, but one who should have never given interviews!
But he did give interviews, now read about György Ligeti's Private Passions
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