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Iannis Xenakis

The composer, engineer, teacher, wartime resistance-worker and writer Iannis Xenakis was born at Braila in Romania on 29 May 1922, and died at home in Paris on 4 February 2001, aged 78, following a long illness.

Xenakis had Greek parents and lived with his family in Greece from 1932, studying music with Aristotle Kundurov and taking an Engineering degree at Athens Polytechnic. During the war he worked with the resistance and became a French citizen after escaping to Paris in 1947.

Largely self-taught, he was encouraged by Honegger, Milhaud and, especially, Olivier Messiaen. The music is closely related to mathematics and architecture, and is mostly fully notated and for conventional instruments, but using stochastic processes, game theory and computers.

In 1966 he founded, in Paris, the School of Mathematical and Automated Music, and set up and taught at a similar centre at Indiana University in the USA. Honours include officier de la Légion d'honneur (France) and the 1999 Polar Music Prize.

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