Giacinto Scelsi

Giacinto Scelsi ( born January 8, 1905 in La Spezia, Italy, † August 9, 1988 in Rome, full title and name: Conte Giacinto Scelsi Francesco Maria d' Ayala valva ) was an Italian composer and poet.


Scelsi himself was always keen to let pass any details about his life in the public (for example there is of him hardly a single authentic picture ) or even deliberate forgery operation. Are deemed certain following key data:

Giacinto Scelsi, Count of Ayala valva d', originated in ancient süditalienischem nobility. His early years are known only fragmentarily. As a child he learned (probably self-taught ) playing the piano in his late teens, he studied composition and harmony with Giacinto Sallustio in Rome. In the second half of the 1920s he went to Paris, led the life of a dandy in Paris and London and married an English nobleman of the relationship of the British royal family, which broke away from him at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was in close contact with the circle of the French surrealist Paul Éluard to, Salvador Dalí and Henri Michaux. In the early 1930s he studied at the Scriabin trailer Egon Koehler in Geneva and 1935/1936 with twelve-tone technique of Schoenberg pupil Walter Klein in Vienna. He made ​​numerous trips, inter alia, to Africa and the Far East.

In the second half of the 1940s sat in Scelsi a psychological crisis, which led to a longer stay in a Swiss sanatorium. In the period 1947-1952 he hired to compose. In 1952 he settled permanently in Rome down, his creative energy returned. Now to the fiftieth year, he began to develop his personal style. He lived a secluded life, his music was initially little public attention. Only in the 1980s, there has been an increase to performances, there now began a lively reception and discussion of his music.

His piano music was, inter alia, premiered by Frederic Rzewski, Marianne Schroeder and Ivar Mikhashoff.


Scelsi was a follower of the doctrine of reincarnation, for it began its life accordingly, long before 1905. According to his own statements, he was born for the first time in the year 2637 BC in Mesopotamia, Assyrians lived as the Euphrates and was together with his then-wife at the age of killed 27 years. A second reincarnation he dated to the time of Alexander the Great, at whose funeral he claims to have taken part in a funeral music.

In his Roman residence is now home to the headquarters of Giacinto Scelsi - Foundation.


Scelsi created a very idiosyncratic work that does not fit into the contemporary currents of modernity. His compositions contradict the European tradition of a compositional practice that is based on clear authorship, and they are based either on traditional compositional techniques nor do they have a close to concepts of musical modernism. He developed a concept of the " spherical " sound, which he endeavored to implement by microtonal elements in his music. He also detested the Tonsetzen. A wide variety of his work, therefore, was in a kind of intuitive improvisation, he played on the piano or a Ondioline ( an early electronic musical instrument ). This " improvisations " section with Scelsi on tape and let them subsequently transferred from (mostly remained unknown ) composers in musical notation. In his estate were found more than 900 such tapes that have not yet been studied to a great extent today. Influential for his compositions is Scelsi's exploration of Eastern philosophies, especially from India. In 1953 he wrote his " Quattro Illustrazioni " four " enlightenment " through various forms of Vishnu, whose items he called " avatars ". Scelsi acquired in the 1980s, especially in France and Germany a relatively high level of awareness.


The British author Gabriel Josipovici has presented the history of the fictional composer Tancredo Pavone a biographical novel about Scelsi after he was allowed to use the archives for the Scelsi Foundation.

Works (selection)

  • " No Action Music. 1 " - Piano Cycle ( 1955)
  • " Tre pezzis " (1956)
  • " Quatro pezzis su una nota sola " - ( four pieces on a single note ) for orchestra ( 1959)
  • "Aion " - the deity Brahma dedicated orchestral work (1960 )
  • " Uaxuctum " - composition for chorus and orchestra (the title refers to the legend himself destroyed by the Maya city)
  • " KONX - Om -Pax " for chorus and orchestra (1969 )
  • " Pfhat " for chorus and orchestra (1974 )
  • " Pwyll " for flute solo (1954 )