Bruno Maderna

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Bruno Maderna in April 1972.

Bruno Maderna (21 April 1920 – 13 November 1973) was an Italian conductor and composer.


Bruno Maderna was born Bruno Grossato in Venice but later decided to take the name of his mother, Caterina Maderna.[1] At the age of four he began studying the violin with his grandfather. ‘My grandfather thought that if you could play the violin you could then do anything, even become the biggest gangster. If you play the violin you are always sure of a place in heaven.’[2] As a child he played several instruments (violin, drums and accordion) in his father's small variety band. A child prodigy, in the early thirties he was not only performing violin concertos, he was already conducting orchestral concerts: first with the orchestra of La Scala in Milan, then in Trieste, Venice, Padua and Verona.

Orphaned at the age of four,[3] Maderna was adopted by a wealthy woman from Verona, Irma Manfredi, who saw that he received a solid musical education. He took private lessons in harmony and composition from Arrigo Pedrollo in 1935–37 and studied composition with Alessandro Bustini at the Rome Conservatory in 1937–40.[4]

After Rome he returned to Venice, where he attended the advanced course for composers (1940–42) organised by Gian Francesco Malipiero at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory (his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra dates from this time). He also studied conducting with Antonio Guarnieri at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena (1941) and Hermann Scherchen in Venice (1948).[5] Through Scherchen Maderna discovered twelve-tone technique and the music of the Second Viennese School.

During the Second World War he took part in the partisan resistance. From 1948 to 1952 he taught music theory at the Venice Conservatory. During this period he collaborated with Malipiero on critical editions of Italian early music. Fellow composers he met at this time included Luigi Dallapiccola and, at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Boulez, Messiaen, Cage, Pousseur, Nono and Stockhausen.

In 1950 Maderna started an international career as a conductor, first in Paris and Munich, then across Europe. In 1955 he founded the Studio di fonologia musicale di Radio Milano with Luciano Berio[6] and Incontri musicali, a series of concerts disseminating contemporary music in Italy. In 1957–58, at the invitation of Giorgio Federico Ghedini, he taught at the Milan Conservatory, and between 1960 and 1962 he lectured at Dartington International Summer School in England. From 1961 to 1966, Maderna and Pierre Boulez were the main directors of the International Kranichsteiner Kammerensemble in Darmstadt. Despite this heavy workload throughout these years Maderna found time to compose.

During the 1960s and '70s he spent much time in the United States, teaching and conducting. In 1971–72 he was appointed director of new music at Tanglewood. In 1972–73 he became the principal conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica of RAI in Milan. Maderna died of cancer in Darmstadt in 1973.

A number of composers wrote pieces in Maderna's memory, including Pierre Boulez (Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna)[7] and Luciano Berio (Calmo for voice and orchestra).[8] Earle Brown's Centering, dedicated to the memory of Maderna, ends with a short quotation from Maderna's First Oboe Concerto.[9]


Maderna composed much music in all genres: instrumental, chamber, concertos and electronic, as well as large amounts of incidental music (for theatre and radio) and transcriptions and editions of early music.

At the heart of Maderna's output are a number of concertos, including one for violin, one for two pianos, two for solo piano and several for flute and orchestra. He was particularly drawn to the oboe, composing three concertos in all: the first in 1962–63 followed by two more in 1967 and 1973.[10]

Other major orchestral works include Aura and Biogramma (both 1967) and Quadrivium, for four percussionists and four orchestral groups (premiered at the 1969 Royan Festival). Giuseppe Sinopoli recorded all three of these pieces with the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1979. Maderna's Requiem, composed between 1944 and 1946, was rediscovered and performed in 2009; the American composer Virgil Thomson saw an unfinished version of the score in 1946 and praised it as a masterpiece.[11]

Bruno Maderna also produced scores for eight films and two documentaries. The last of these was for Giulio Questi's thriller La morte ha fatto l'uovo in 1968.[12]



  1. ^ Anon. 2011b.
  2. ^ Patmore n.d.
  3. ^ Mattietti 2006.
  4. ^ Mattietti 2006.
  5. ^ Oron 2001.
  6. ^ Anon. 2011a; De Benedictus n.d.
  7. ^ "Boulez – Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna for orchestra in 8 groups".
  8. ^ "Berio – Calmo for mezzo-soprano and 22 instruments".
  9. ^ Anon. 2013.
  10. ^ Anon. 2011b
  11. ^ Claudia di Luzio, "Maderna’s Requiem Recovered," Notes vol. 70, no. 3 (2014), .
  12. ^ Anon. n.d.


Further reading[edit]

  • Baroni, Mario (2003). "The Macroform in Post-tonal Music: Listening and Analysis". Musicæ Scientiæ: The Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music 7, no. 2 (Fall): 219–40.
  • Baroni, Mario, and Rossana Dalmonte (eds.) (2015). Pour Bruno. Memorie e ricerche su Bruno Maderna. Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana.
  • Clark, Philip (2011). "Thoroughly Modern Maderna". Gramophone (January): 44–45.
  • Dalmonte, Rossana, and Mario Baroni (eds.) (1985). "Bruno Maderna, Documenti". Milan: Edizioni Suvini Zerboni.
  • Dalmonte, Rossana, and Mario Baroni (eds.) (1989). Studi su Bruno Maderna. Milan: Edizioni Suvini Zerboni.
  • Dalmonte, Rossana, and Marco Russo (eds.) (2004). Bruno Maderna. Studi e Testimonianze. Lucca: LIM.
  • De Benedictis, Angela Ida. n.d. "Biography", translated by Mark Weir. Centro Studi Luciano Berio website (accessed 8 January 2016).
  • Drees, Stefan (2003). "Renaissance-Musik als Inspirationsquelle für das Komponieren Bruno Madernas und Luigi Nonos". In The Past in the Present: Papers Read at the IMS Intercongressional Symposium and the 10th Meeting of the Cantus Planus, Budapest & Visegrád, 2000, 2 vols., edited by László Dobszay, 1: 545–558. Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem. ISBN 963-7181-34-2
  • Fabbi, Roberto (2002). "Cena sociale. Satyricon e il 'politico'". Musica/Realtà, no. 67.
  • Fearn, Raymond (1990). "Bruno Maderna". [Chur]: Harwood Academic Publishers.
  • Fearn, Raymond (2003). "'Luft von anderem Planeten...': The presence of the Epitaph of Seikilos in Bruno Maderna's Composizione no. 2 (1950)". In The Past in the Present: Papers Read at the IMS Intercongressional Symposium and the 10th Meeting of the Cantus Planus, Budapest & Visegrád, 2000, 2 vols., edited by László Dobszay, 1:559–68. Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem. ISBN 963-7181-34-2.
  • Feneyrou, Laurent, Geneviève Mathon, and Giordano Ferrari (eds.) (2007, 2009). À Bruno Maderna, 2 vols. Paris: Éditions de Basalte.
  • Ferrari, Giordano (2000). Les débuts du théatre musical d'avant-garde en Italie. Berio, Evangelisti, Maderna. Paris: L'Harmattan.
  • Gagné, Nicole V. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Classical Music. Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6765-9 (cloth); ISBN 978-0-8108-7962-1 (ebook).
  • Ircam-Centre Pompidou (2011). "Bruno Maderna". Resources.ircam (Accessed 22 November 2011).
  • Luzio, Claudia di (2006). "Traumnahe Welten—weltnahe Träume: Zum Verhältnis von Traum und Wirklichkeit im Musiktheater von Luciano Berio und Bruno Maderna". In Traum und Wirklichkeit in Theater und Musiktheater: Vorträge und Gespräche des Salzburger Symposions 2004, edited by Peter Csobádi, Gernot Gruber, and Jürgen Kühnel, 342–356. Wort und Musik: Salzburger akademische Beiträge 62. Salzburg: Mueller-Speiser. ISBN 3-85145-099-X
  • Mathon, Geneviève (2003). "À propos du Satyricon de Bruno Moderna". In Musique et dramaturgie: Esthétique de la représentation au XXème siècle, edited by Laurent Feneyrou, 571–93. Esthétique 7. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne. ISBN 2-85944-472-6
  • Mila, Massimo (1999). Maderna musicista europeo, nuova edizione. Piccola biblioteca Einaudi, nuova serie 17. Turin: Einaudi Editore. ISBN 88-06-15059-6
  • Neidhofer, Christoph (2005a). "'Blues' through the Serial Lens: Transformational Process in a Fragment by Bruno Maderna". Mitteilungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung, no. 18 (March): 14–20.
  • Neidhofer, Christoph (2005b). "Bruno Madernas flexibler Materialbegriff: Eine Analyse des Divertimento in due tempi (1953)". Musik & Ästhetik 9, no. 33 (January): 30–47.
  • Neidhofer, Christoph (2007). "Bruno Maderna's Serial Arrays". Music Theory Online 13, no. 1 (March).
  • Palazzetti, Nicolò (2015). "Italian Harmony during the Second World War. Analysis of Bruno Maderna's First String Quartet". Rivista di Analisi e Teoria Musicale 21, no. 1: 63–91.
  • Poel, Piet Hein van de (2003). "Bruno Maderna sur le Satyricon: Pop art en musique". In Musique et dramaturgie: Esthétique de la représentation au XXème siècle, edited by Laurent Feneyrou, 599–601. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.
  • Service, Tom (2013). "Remembering Bruno Maderna". The Guardian (13 November).
  • Sitsky, Larry (ed.) (2002). Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Biographical Sourcebook. Westport Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press.
  • Suvini-Hand, Vivienne (2006). "Bruno Maderna's Ausstrahlung". In Sweet Thunder: Music and Libretti in 1960s Italy. Legenda Italian Perspectives 16, 151–78. London: Modern Humanities Research Association and Maney Publishing. ISBN 1-904350-60-7, ISBN 978-1-904350-60-6 (See extracts at [1])
  • Verzina, Nicola (2003). Bruno Maderna: Etude historique et critique. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 2-7475-4409-5
  • Zender, Hans, with Roland Diry and Suzanne Laurentius (2007). "Neue Musik erwartet Selbstandigkeit". Ensemble Modern Newsletter no. 24 (January):[page needed].

External links[edit]