Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988), an extraordinary, innovative, and often controversial moving force in modern music, has been the subject of a vast amount of literary criticism, philosophical discussions, and groundbreaking performances.
Originally in French, Scelsi’s writings have been included in anthologies of prose, poetry, and memories published in French, Italian, and German. For the first time, this volume brings selected writings into English. His writings enlighten the creative process and facilitate further the understanding of his musical message. Following Eric Drott’s Preface, Franco Sciannameo and Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini provide two introductory essays to Scelsi’s Meaning of Music, The Evolution of Harmony, The Evolution of Rhythm, Art and Satanism, Unity and Equality of the Arts, Sound and Music, and Art and Knowledge–writings spanning from the early 1940s to February 1987. Additionally, the editors place Scelsi’s aesthetical writings within a densely contextualized historical, social, and cultural landscape to provide scholarly yet approachable critical information.
Iconographic plates, bibliography, discography and a comprehensive index complete the volume.
Franco Sciannameo is College of Fine Arts Distinguished Scholar & Teaching Professor of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Nino Rota’s The Godfather Trilogy (2010), Phil Trajetta (Venice, 1776-Philadelphia, 1854), Patriot, Musician, Immigrant (2010), Experiencing the Violin Concerto (2016), Musicians’ Migratory Patterns: The Adriatic Coast (2018), and Reflections on the Music of Ennio Morricone: Fame and Legacy (2020).
Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini, one of Italy’s foremost musicologists and twentieth-century music specialists, has written on Casella, Nono, Petrassi, and Scelsi among many others. She has edited both Italian and French editions of Giacinto Scelsi’s autobiography Il sogno 101 (both published in 2010). Pellegrini is the President of the Verdi National Archive, Professor at the Conservatorio “Domenico Cimarosa” in Avellino, and Scientific Director of the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi in Rome.
00a List of Figures
00b Preface by Eric Drott
00c Introduction and Acknowledgments
02 The Meaning of Music
03 The Evolution of Harmony
04 The Evolution of Rhythm
05 Art and Satanism
06 Unity and Equality of the Arts
09 Sound and Music
10 Art and Knowledge
15 Authors’ bios
This book rectifies a great gap in our understanding of this utterly original composer. We glean from Scelsi’s own writings the depth of his thinking from both historical and aesthetic perspectives, how these changed over the course of his career and, most importantly, how these changes shaped his development as a composer of some of the most original masterpieces of the late 20th century.
In this fascinating volume, Sciannameo and Pellegrini provide the first English translations of Scelsi’s writings on music. Indispensable for those wishing to observe Scelsi’s musical journey from the terrestrial to the mystical.
The English translation of selected texts by Giacinto Scelsi—philologically accurate and terminologically precise—is a most welcome complement to the recent translations of writings by European composers and the significant impulse to broaden the perspective on new musical thinking.