Matteo Sommacal

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Matteo Sommacal
Background information
Birth name Matteo Sommacal
Born (1977-11-18) 18 November 1977 (age 38)
Origin Roma, Italy
Genres classical
Occupation(s) Composer, Mathematical physicist
Years active 2000–present
Labels Centaur Records, KHA Records

Matteo Sommacal, born 18 November 1977 in Roma (Italy), is an Italian composer and mathematical physicist.

As a composer, he has been active since 2000 writing concert and film music. Since late 2000, he has been serving as the artistic director of the Italian chamber ensemble Piccola Accademia degli Specchi, that premiered and recorded several of his compositions.[1] As a scientist, he does research mainly in the field of nonlinear evolution equations and in studies dealing with the onset of chaotic behaviors in dynamical systems. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Northumbria University.


He was introduced as a child to ancient music and recorder which later on inspired him to pursue extensive research of Renaissance and Baroque repertoire, through the guidance of Gabriella Casularo, Marcos Volonterio (Conservatoire Populaire de Musique, Geneve, CH), John Tyson (New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, USA) and Stefano Bragetti (Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, CH). After a brief period performing recorder,[2] in 1997 he met Carmelo Piccolo, professor at the Conservatorio Statale di Musica "Gioachino Rossini". This meeting was a turning point for his musical career: through Piccolo, he discovered the freedom and beauty of the language of modern music and began focussing his studies in composition and piano. A mathematician as well, he was ultimately attracted to the disciplined,[3] highly structured and near scientific treatment of the musical material typical of many minimalist and postminimalist composers. In late 2000, with a group of young musicians devoted to contemporary music, he co-founded in Rome the ensemble Piccola Accademia degli Specchi, as a laboratory to realize his and other living composers' musical experimentation.

His works are regularly performed in Italy and major festivals dedicated to contemporary music. In September 2004, his work Quasi un tango per la neve del mattino, for soprano sax, cello and piano four-hands, was premiered at the "Festival delle Città/Estate Musicale" in Portogruaro (Venice), Italy, with Alessandro Specchi at the piano.[4] His work Emersioni, for percussion ensemble and organ, was premiered in 2005 by the Gruppo Percussioni Trieste conducted by Fabian Perez Tedesco at the season opener of the Conservatorio di Musica "Giuseppe Tartini" in Trieste, Italy.[5] His music was performed at the Contemporary Music Festival "Luigi Nono" in Trieste, Italy, in 2004 by the Piccola Accademia degli Specchi,[6][7] and in 2005 by the Corale Nuovo Accordo, conducted by Andrea Mistaro.[8] He participated in three programs of the International Contemporary Arts Festival "Postaja Topolove" (July 2004,[9] July 2005,[10] July 2006[11]). His music was played at "Cantiere Musica" (July 2008),[12] "The September Concert" (September 2009)[13][14] and "Nuovi Spazi Musicali" (October 2009),[15] under the artistic direction of Ada Gentile, where Piccola Accademia degli Specchi premiered his work La ragazza che dormiva sotto il letto.[16]

In 2009, the festival "Bagliori d'autore" commissioned him to compose a work based on the life and writings of Victor Hugo: for this commission he wrote a piece for speaker and ensemble entitled Actes et paroles, with a text elaborated by Chiara Piola Caselli after Victor Hugo's last political speech, "Sur la Revision de la Constitution", given on 18 July 1851. The piece was premiered in Rome in November 2009 by Piccola Accademia degli Specchi featuring the composer Matthias Kadar.[17]

In January 2012, at "Concerti e Colline", Nizza Monferrato, the two-piano team "Taglieri Genitoni Duo" performed his eight-movement suite Fibonacci's Piranhas,[18] which makes an extensive use of the Fibonacci numbers for deriving and developing the whole melodic, rhythmic and harmonic structure of the piece.[19]

His three-movement piano solo suite The whale's divertissement, dedicated to the Italian pianist and composer Francesco Di Fiore, has been premiered by the latter at the "LuisterLustrum Festival"[20] at the Zeeuwse Concertzaal of Middelburg in the Netherlands in November 2012, accompanied by Valeria Di Matteo's videos and visuals. Since then, this piece has been performed by Francesco Di Fiore on several occasions, including his "China Tour 2013"[21] (Chinese premiere) in April 2013, "Confini d'Incontro"[22] at Villa Vigoni in Loveno di Menaggio (Italian premiere) in June 2013, and "Visual Piano"[23] at the Capstone Theatre in Liverpool (UK premiere) in June 2015. The suite's movements (breaching, logging, flipperslapping) draw their inspiration from and are named after certain whale surfacing behaviours.

In addition to live performances of his music, his compositions have been featured on radio such as New Sounds on WNYC,[24][25] Echoes[26][27] on NPR, Concertzender[28] in the Netherlands, Radio Classica[29] in Italy, Ràdio Despí[30] in Spain, and Radio Primitive[31] in France.

He scored several documentaries and experimental short films, notably the musical short Candidamente by Ruggero Lancia (Italy 2000); the historical documentary La Resistenza nella Provincia di Roma by Michele Imperio (Italy 2006),[32] which received the sponsorship of the Province of Rome; the documentary Macchia Madre by Simona Marziani (Italy, 2008); and the documentary A Mani Nude by Piero Pieri (Italy 2010), produced by the national broadcasting service RAI. He also scored the current European Marine Equipment Council promo video (Belgium, 2008).[33]


His two works for chamber ensemble Counter Rotating In Vacuum and Le Ragioni Dimenticate were defined as "particularly enchanting" by the music critic Rob Haskins on the May/June issue of the American Record Guide.[34] Reviewing his piano multi-hand suite Fibonacci's Piranhas, the Italian pianist and video-music artist Valeria Di Matteo wrote that it represents "a perfect example of how, in the context of minimal music, the two languages of music and science can balance and cooperate for the achievement of works of high artistic value".[35]

His album The Chain Rules, featuring pianist Alessandro Stella, gathered positive international reviews: on textura, Canadian music critic Ron Schepper defined his music as "direct and melodically potent";[36] according to French music critic and radio dj Dionys Della Luce "Each piece accomplishes its programme with a constant delight, a rare alacrity, without affectation, served by pianist Alessandro Stella's elegance and light vivacity of touch";[37] Italian-Slovak artist Marco Gerbi commented "The Chain Rules is an intimate, microcosmic work, provided with great strength from the first to the last composition... Tracks like The sign of gathering or Follow it blindly are impressive and grandiose".[38]


Matteo Sommacal earned a M.Sc. in Physics at the Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza", Italy (2002). Subsequently, he received a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, with Francesco Calogero as advisor (2005). His scientific publications in English include 16 papers (co-authored);[39] he co-edited a special issue of Journal of Physics A.[40] His main research concerns: the transitions from ordered to disordered motions for dynamical systems, explained as travels on Riemann surfaces (this novel interpretation of Chaos is cited on Wolfram MathWorld Encyclopedia[41]); the Kirchhoff elastic rod as a model for polymeric chains; the Landau-Lifshitz equation as a model for propagating magnetic droplets in ferromagnetic materials. He worked also on isochronous dynamical systems and oscillatory chemical reactions. Since 2009, he has been serving as co-chair of the organizing committee of the NEEDS International Conferences series.[42]



  • Il circolo incantato, for unlimited amount and kinds of treble and bass instruments, with at least 6 treble instruments for each bass instrument (2004)
  • Emersioni, for percussion orchestra (vibraphones, xilophones, marimbas, glockenspiels, tubular bells) and organ (2005)
  • La conversione di San Paolo, for string orchestra, piano 4 hands, 2 flutes, clarinet, sax quartet and chorus (2006/2008)


  • Camera con vista sulla piscina, for piano 4 hands, cello, violin, soprano sax, flute (2000/2004)
  • Il punto di Salomone, for recorder quartet (2000/2001); alt. vers. for sax quartet (2001)
  • Counter rotating in vacuum, for piano 4 hands, sax quartet and 2 flutes (2000/2001); alt. vers. for piano 4 hands, cello, violin, soprano sax and flute (2002)
  • Andrea, for piano 4 hands, cello, soprano sax and flute (2002)
  • Nessuno ascolta il cane di ceramica, for piano, violin and flute (2002); alt. vers. for piano, soprano sax and flute (2003)
  • Le ragioni dimenticate - I Movement, for piano 4 hands, cello, alto sax and piccolo (2003)
  • Le ragioni dimenticate - II Movement, for piano 4 hands, cello, alto sax and flute (2003)
  • In attesa del suo ritorno, for piano 4 hands, cello, violin and flute (2004/2007)
  • Quasi un tango per la neve del mattino, for piano 4 hands, cello and soprano sax (2004)
  • Le ragioni dimenticate - III Movement, for piano 4 hands, cello, soprano sax and flute (2009)
  • La ragazza che dormiva sotto il letto, for piano 4 hands, cello, violin, soprano sax and flute (2009)
  • Actes et paroles, (alt. instrumental vers.) for piano 4 hands, cello, violin, soprano sax and flute (2009)
  • The sign of gathering, for piano and string quartet (2010)
  • The forgotten strains, for piano and string quartet (2010)


  • La solitudine di Srecko Kosovel, for chorus, 2 clarinets (bass clarinet ad libitum) and percussions (2005)
  • La coscienza di Renato Serra, for chorus (2005)
  • Tellim, for recorder quartet, glockenspiel and 2 sopranos (2006)
  • Lullabies, for piano 4 hands and soprano (2006/2011)
  • Actes et paroles, melologue on text by C. Piola Caselli after Victor Hugo's last political speech, "Sur la Revision de la Constitution", 18 July 1851, for actor, piano 4 hands, cello, violin, soprano sax and flute (2009)
  • Via Crucis - Station I (text by C. Pulsoni), for piano 4 hands, double bass, cello, violin, soprano sax, flute and chorus (2010)


  • Fibonacci's piranhas, for piano 4, 5 and 6 hands (2002/2004)
  • Miniatures, for piano (2007/2010)
  • Exile upon Earth, for piano (2008/2010)
  • In a silent crowd, for piano (2008/2010)
  • The rising call, for piano (2008/2010)
  • The whale's divertissement, for piano (2011)
  • I buried the truth, for piano (2011)

Solo and Duo[edit]

  • Maria, for piano and flute (2002)
  • L'architecture du reveil, for viola and violin (2006/2007)
  • Port Said, for piano and clarinet (2008)
  • Follow it blindly, for piano and cello (2010)

Film and TV music[edit]



  • Candidamente, Prod: M. Sommacal, R. Lancia, M. Siccardi (IT 2002)
  • MinimaMachta, Centaur Records (USA 2009)
  • The Chain Rules, KHA Records (IT 2015)
  • Rhythm of Silence, Belarca Records (USA 2016)


  • Exile Upon Earth, KHA Records (IT 2014)
  • The Sign of Gathering, KHA Records (IT 2015)

Radio Archives Online[edit]


  1. ^ Minimamachta, Music of Philip Glass, Matteo Sommacal and Wim Meterns performed by Piccola Accademia degli Specchi
  2. ^ "Molly Cara", Corriere della Sera, July 11, 2001, p. 59, Rome (IT)
  3. ^ M. Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, 1974
  4. ^ "Fuoco Aquileiese", Corriere del Veneto, September 3, 2004, Venice (IT)
  5. ^ Repertoire of the Gruppo Percussioni Trieste
  6. ^ D. Bozovic, "Minimalismo riflesso dagli specchi", Il Corriere Veneto, Trieste (IT), November 8, 2004
  7. ^ P. Ferialdi, "Piccola Accademia degli Specchi, minimalista", Il Piccolo, Trieste (IT), November 8, 2004
  8. ^ VI Festival di musica contemporanea "Luigi Nono", concert program
  9. ^ Stazione di Topolò, July 10/11, 2004, Italy
  10. ^ Stazione di Topolò, July 15, 2005, Italy
  11. ^ Stazione di Topolò, July 15, 2006, Italy
  12. ^ Musica e Arte, Cantiere Musica, VI Edition, 2008, Italy
  13. ^ Casa del Jazz, The September Concert 2009, Rome, Italy
  14. ^ F. Zampa, "Doppio concerto alla Casa del Jazz", Il Messaggero, Rome (IT), September 11, 2009
  15. ^ Ada Gentile, Nuovi Spazi Musicali, Festival 2009, Rome, Italy
  16. ^ A. Gasponi, "Minimalismo in chiave italiana", Il Messaggero, Rome (IT), October 19, 2009
  17. ^ C. Pulsoni, "L'orazione di Victor Hugo trasformata in musica", Il Corriere dell'Umbria, Vivere d'Umbria, Perugia (IT), November 19, 2009
  18. ^ M. Sommacal, Fibonacci's Piranhas - 5th Movement, performed by Taglieri Genitoni Duo, live recording, "Concerti e Colline", Nizza Monferrato, 31 January 2012
  19. ^ M.G. Ortore, "Musica, Fisica e Matematica: intervista a Matteo Sommacal", Ticonzero, Article 61, April 2015, ISSN 2420-8442
  20. ^ "LuisterLustrum Festival" -Francesco Di Fiore, Piano, 21 November 2012
  21. ^ F. Di Fiore, Concert agenda
  22. ^ "Riflessioni d'Arte", Confini d'Incontro, 18 June 2013
  23. ^ Visual Piano: Francesco Di Fiore, The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool, UK, 5 March 2015
  24. ^ J. Schaefer, "Relentless Minimalism", New Sounds, broadcast on WNYC, 93.9 FM/820 AM, New York (USA), July 17, 2008
  25. ^ J. Schaefer, "Eurominimalism", New Sounds, broadcast on WNYC, 93.9 FM/820 AM, New York (USA), September 10, 2008
  26. ^ "Echoes Radio Show", Syndicated to NPR (Public Radio International), Playlists: 0830B, 0745C, 0743B, 0738D
  27. ^ "Echoes Radio Show", Syndicated to NPR (Public Radio International), Playlists: 1506A, 1508C, 1510A, 1512B
  28. ^ Concertzender, "Nieuw verschenen", Playlists: 76334, 76351, 77068
  29. ^ L. Ciammarughi, "Top Ten", Radio Classica 94.0 FM, Milano, Italy, February 23, 2015
  30. ^ F.M. López Herrero, "La Otra Orilla", Episode #1118, Ràdio Despí, Spain, February 15, 2015
  31. ^ D. Della Luce, "Matteo Sommacal - The Chain Rules", Inactuelles - Musiques Singulières, Radio Primitive, 92.4 FM, Reims, France, on Monday, February 23, 2015
  32. ^ La resistenza nella provincia di Roma Listing at The Internet Movie Database
  33. ^ EMEC, me: Marine Equipment, Belgium, 2008
  34. ^ R. Haskins, "Minimamachta", American Record Guide, May/June 2010
  35. ^ V. Di Matteo, "Minimal Music", Master Thesis, Conservatorio di Musica di Palermo "V. Bellini", Palermo (IT), A.Y. 2009/2010, p. 52
  36. ^ R. Schepper, "Matteo Sommacal: The Chain Rules", textura, March 2015, N. 121.
  37. ^ D. Della Luca "Matteo Sommacal - The Chain Rules", Inactuelles - Musiques Singulières, February 26, 2015
  38. ^ M. Gerbi "Tra musica e matematica, il nuovo CD di Matteo Sommacal", Buongiorno Slovacchia, March 26, 2015
  39. ^ ResearcherID, Matteo Sommacal, Publication List
  40. ^ "Current trends in integrability and nonlinear phenomena", J. Physics A 43, 430301 (2010)
  41. ^ Wolfram MathWorld, Chaos
  42. ^ Nonlinear Evolution Equations and Dynamical Systems, NEEDS 2009

External links[edit]