Giacinto Scelsi

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 articles about Giacinto Scelsi

Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - The home country grown strange

CD Spotlight. Simplicity and Innocence - Robert McCarney listens to volume one of the complete piano music of Niccolò Castiglioni. 'Aldo Orvieto ... definitely has the measure of Castiglioni's unique universe and does this music proud.'

Ensemble. Beyond Earthly Existence - Giuseppe Pennisi reports on the International Chigiana Festival and Summer Academy

CD Spotlight. On the Border between Innovation and Experimentation - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music by Giacinto Scelsi. '... possessed by sounds, trapped in fingertips that are constantly forced to move.'

CD Spotlight. Tibet in Rome - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to piano music by twentieth century Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi. 'The rendering by Sabine Liebner is spotless, in spite of the many traps of both scores.'

CD Spotlight. The Sound Frontier - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to music for orchestra and electronics by Nicola Sani. '... of undoubted interest to all those who explore the new frontiers of sound.'

Ensemble. Hausmusik in the Palatine Hall - by Giuseppe Pennisi

Ensemble. A Clear Success - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to contemporary music in a baroque setting

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

Ensemble. Under the Tuscan Sun - Giuseppe Pennisi attends the beginning of the Tiroler Festspiele 2010

Record box - Boldly on. Recent music from Italy, with Basil Ramsey