Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi was born into a rich family in Pitelli near La Spezia on 8 January 1905. When his family moved to Rome, he began private music lessons with Giacinto Sallustio. Later he studied with Schoenberg in Vienna, becoming the first Italian composer to use Schoenberg's twelve-tone system. In the 1920s Scelsi became friends with Jean Cocteau and Virginia Woolf, had his first experience with non-European music (in Egypt) and wrote his first piece, Chemin du coeur.
He organised concerts to expose Italian audiences to contemporary music, and spent much of World War II in exile in Switzerland. Back in Rome with the return of peace, Scelsi began experimenting with improvisation.
Meetings with leading interpreters in the 1970s led to increased awareness of his virtually unknown music, to wider audiences and to the realisation that recent musical history would need rewriting - Scelsi had been composing minimalist and spectral music several decades earlier than anyone else.
Scelsi died in Rome on 9 August 1988.
A selection of M&V articles about Giacinto Scelsi
Ensemble. Sophisticated Elegance - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Giacinto Scelsi
Ensemble. Old and New - Giuseppe Pennisi reports from Siena's Chigiana International Festival
Ensemble. Sophisticated Musical Evenings - The legacy of Giacinto Scelsi twenty-five years on, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Illuminating the Spectrum - Contemporary music at Salzburg, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
Record box - Boldly on. Recent music from Italy, with Basil Ramsey