The hushed intensity and mystery of Ligeti's Lux aeterna made it an intriguing and stunningly effective choice for the "voice" of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ligeti sets this text from the Requiem Mass as a quietly beautiful motet. It sounds like a sustained soundscape, swelling from a unison out into a vibrant mass of clusters, then subsiding back to a point of consonant repose. But the clusters are created polyphonically, by the extensive use of canon based on Renaissance models. Ligeti marked the score to be sung very calmly, "as from a distance," and the effect is a sonic interpretation of gleaming perpetual light, a peaceful radiance with one bright soprano flash near the end.
- John Henken is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Director of Publications