Sylvano Bussotti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sylvano Bussotti
Maestro Sylvano Bussotti.jpg
Sylvano Bussotti
Born(1931-10-01)1 October 1931
Florence, Italy
Died15 September 2021(2021-09-15) (aged 89)
Milan, Italy
EducationFlorence Conservatory
  • Composer
  • Painter
  • Set designer
  • Costume designer
  • Writer
  • Theatre manager
  • Academic teacher
AwardsISCM Prize

Sylvano Bussotti (1 October 1931 – 19 September 2021) was an Italian composer of contemporary classical music, also a painter, set and costume designer, theatre director, writer and academic teacher. His compositions employ unusual notation, which has often created special problems of interpretation. He was known as a composer for the stage, whose operas and ballets were premiered at the Teatro Comunale di Firenze, Teatro Lirico di Milano, Teatro Regio di Torino and Piccola Scala di Milano, among others. He was artistic director of La Fenice in Venice and the Puccini Festival. He taught internationally, for a decade at the Fiesole School of Music.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Florence,[1] Bussotti learned to play the violin beginning before the age of five with Margherita Castellani,[2] becoming a prodigy.[3] He was also introduced to painting, by his uncle Tono Zancanaro and his older brother Renzo. At the Florence Conservatory, he studied harmony and counterpoint with Roberto Lupi, and piano with Luigi Dallapiccola, but achieved no diploma due to World War II.[3][1] He kept studying composition on his own. From 1956, he studied privately in Paris with Max Deutsch, and met Luigi Nono, Pierre Boulez and Heinz-Klaus Metzger who introduced him to the Darmstädter Ferienkurse. His first composition performed in public was Breve, played by Françoise Deslogères at a gallery in Düsseldorf in 1958, with John Cage in the audience.[3] In Paris, Cathy Berberian sang his works, conducted by Boulez.[2] Bussotti travelled to the U.S. in 1964 and 1965, visiting Buffalo and New York invited by the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1972, he visited Berlin, invited by DAAD for the Ford Foundation.[3]

As a composer he was influenced by the twelve-tone music of Webern and later John Cage. Examples of his use of graphic notation in his pieces, often reflecting his personal life, included La passion selon Sade and Lorenzaccio. He was a composer of the Florentine artistic current, that has been active since the end of World War II up to the present, including Giuseppe Chiari, Giancarlo Cardini, Albert Mayr, Marcello Aitiani, Sergio Maltagliati, Daniele Lombardi, and Pietro Grossi. These musicians experimented with the interaction between sound, sign, and vision, a synaesthetics of art derived from historical avant-gardes, from Kandinski to futurism, to Scriabin and Schoenberg, all the way to Bauhaus.[3]

Bussotti also pursued other disciplines including painting, graphic art, and journalism.[1] He was a well-known film director, actor, and singer. He wrote most of the librettos for his operas. As a writer, his style was considered one of the most refined among the Italian poets and novelists of the 20th century. French culture fascinated him since he was a boy. His great friend Cathy Berberian (Luciano Berio's wife) was one of his most famous interpreters. He was well acquainted with writers and film directors Aldo Palazzeschi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Derek Jarman, Elsa Morante, Alberto Moravia, Aldo Braibanti, Mario Zanzotto, Fabio Casadei Turroni, Dacia Maraini, and Umberto Eco. Jarman was the director of his opera L'Ispirazione, first staged in Florence in 1988.[3] Rara Film is his most celebrated underground film. The film, according to the author's instructions, should be performed, together with the score, which includes from seven to eleven players. The music of Rara Film is not a strict counterpoint of the film, flowing without any relation to the images.

Bussotti served as the artistic director of La Fenice in Venice, directed the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago,[3] and was director of opera at La Scala in Milan.[1] He taught composition, analysis and the history of musical theatre at the Academy of Fine Arts in L'Aquila, at the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart in Stuttgart, at the Royan Festival and from 1980 to 1991 at the Fiesole School of Music.[3] As a personality he was notoriously flamboyant and occasionally shocking. He staged a high-profile resignation from the Venice Biennale in 1991 by bringing in a famous prostitute to give the keynote speech. Openly gay, Bussotti expressed his sexuality in his music as early as 1958.[4]

Bussotti died at a nursing home in Milan at age 89, shortly before his 90th birthday. Festivities planned in Florence for the event will be held in his memory, in five days including performances by Fabbrica Europa, Florence Queer Festival, Fondazione Culturale Stensen, Maschietto Editore, and Tempo Reale, collaborating with Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Bussotti Opera Ballet and the Museo Marino Marini.[1]


Bussotti was awarded the ISCM Prize in 1961, 1963 and 1965, then in 1967 the All'Amelia Prize at the Venice Biennale, in 1974 the Toscani d'Oggi Prize, and in 1979 the Psacaropulo Prize.[3]



Most of Bussotti's works were published by Casa Ricordi.[2]

Stage works[edit]

  • La Passion selon Sade (mistero da camera), The Passion after Sade. Chamber mystery. 1965[3]
  • Lorenzaccio, premiered at La Fenice in 1972
  • Nottetempo (dramma lirico), 1976 with Oslavio Di Credico [it] at the Teatro Lirico di Milano
  • La rarità. Potente. premiered at the Teatro Regio di Torino in 1979
  • Le Racine (Pianobar pour Phèdre), chamber opera in a prologue, three acts and an intermezzo for voices, premiered at Piccola Scala [it] in Milan in 1980
  • Fedra, tragedia lirica, 1988
  • L'ispirazione, melodramma in three acts, 1988
  • Silvano Sylvano. Rappresentazione della vita, chamber opera in one tempo on words (testi) di Sylvano Bussotti (2002-2007).

Other compositions[edit]

  • 5 Piano Pieces for David Tudor (1959)
  • Phrase à Trois (1960)
  • Pour Clavier (1961)
  • Torso (1963)
  • Rara Requiem (1969)
  • Poesia di De Pisis (1975)
  • Fogli d'Album (1984)
  • Il Catalogo È Questo (1979–88)
  • Mozartiane I (2006)
  • Mozartiane II (2007)
  • Rara Film (1964, revised 2008)

Novels and poems[edit]

Bussotti's writings included:[3]

  • I miei teatri, Il Novecento edition, Palermo, 1982.
  • Letterati Ignoranti, poesie per musica, Quaderni di Barbablù, Siena, 1986.
  • Sylvano Bussotti, nudi ritratti e disegnini, sketches with poems by Romani Brizzi, Trucchi e Bussotti, Il polittico edition, Rome, 1991.
  • Non fare il minimo rumore, Girasole Edition, Ravenna, 1997.
  • Disordine alfabetico, Spirali Edition, Milan, 2002.
  • La calligrafia di un romanzo uno e due, novel in Peccati veniali, a cura di A. Veneziani, Coniglio editore, Rome, 2004.
  • L'acuto, in Angelo d'Edimburgo by Fabio Casadei Turroni, Le Mondine Edition, Molinella, 2006.
  • I Mozart vanno vanno, interludio in La notte delle dissonanze, by Sandro Cappelletto, EDT, Turin, 2007.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Musica, addio al compositore Sylvano Bussotti: Firenze si preparava a festeggiare i 90 anni" (in Italian). La Stampa. 20 September 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Sylvano Bussotti". Casa Ricordi. 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Sylvano Bussotti". IRCAM (in French). 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  4. ^ Attinello, Paul (2002), "Bussotti, Sylvano",

Further reading[edit]

  • Attinello, Paul. Signifying Chaos: A Semiotic Analysis of Sylvano Bussotti's "Siciliano", in: repercussions 1 (1992), pp. 84–110.
  • Bortolotto, Mario. Fase seconda. Studi sulla Nuova Musica, Einaudi, Turin 1969. [especially the chapter "Le cinque tentazioni di Bussotti", pp. 201–226.]
  • Bortolotto, Mario (ed.). "Sognato dalla storia": materiali per un "Lorenzaccio", in: Lo Spettatore musicale, Sonderheft, Bologna 1972 [with contributions from Mario Bortolotto, Giorgio Manganelli, and Salvatore Sciarrino].
  • Bucci, Moreno (ed.). L'opera di Sylvano Bussotti. Musica, segno, immagine, progetto. Il teatro, le scene, i costumi, gli attrezzi ed i capricci dagli anni Quaranta al BUSSOTTIOPERABALLET, Electa editrice, Milano 1988.
  • Degrada, Francesco (ed.). Bussottioperaballet: Sylvano Bussotti e il suo teatro: Oggetto amato ─ Nottetempo, Ricordi, Milan, 1976; [Bussotti: Cinque frammenti autobiografici, p. 13, the libretto of "Nottetempo", interviews and essays].
  • Esposito, Luigi. "Un male incontenibile - Sylvano Bussotti artista senza confini", Bietti, Milano, 2013.
  • La Face, Giuseppina. Teatro, eros e segno nell'opera di Sylvano Bussotti, in: Rivista Italiana di Musicologia 9 (1974), pp. 250–268.
  • Lucioli, Alessandra. Sylvano Bussotti, Targa Italiana Editrice, Milan, 1988.
  • Maehder, Jürgen, and Sylvano Bussotti. Turandot, Pisa (Giardini) 1983.
  • Maehder, Jürgen. BUSSOTTIOPERABALLET ─ Sviluppi della drammaturgia musicale bussottiana, in: Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana 18 (1984), pp. 441–468.
  • Maehder, Jürgen. BUSSOTTIOPERABALLET ─ Zur Entwicklung der musikalischen Dramaturgie im Werk Sylvano Bussottis, in: Otto Kolleritsch (ed.), Oper heute. Formen der Wirklichkeit im zeitgenössischen Musiktheater, Studien zur Wertungsforschung vol. 16, Universal Edition, Vienna and Graz, 1985, pp. 188–216.
  • Maehder, Jürgen. "Odo un Sylvano" ─ Zur Rolle des Komponisten, Regisseurs, Bühnen-und Kostümbildners Sylvano Bussotti im zeitgenössischen Musiktheater, Programmheft der Frankfurter Feste, Alte Oper, Frankfurt 1991, pp. 16–63.
  • Maehder, Jürgen. ""Bussotti, Sylvano". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 4 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1992.
  • Maehder, Jürgen. Zitat, Collage, Palimpsest ─ Zur Textbasis des Musiktheaters bei Luciano Berio und Sylvano Bussotti, in Hermann Danuser and Matthias Kassel (eds.), Musiktheater heute. Internationales Symposion der Paul Sacher Stiftung Basel 2001, Schott, Mainz 2003, p. 97–133.
  • Morini, Luciano. Moda e musica nei costumi di Sylvano Bussotti, Idealibri, Milan 1984; German edition: Aldo Premoli/Luciano Morini: Träume in Samt und Seide. Mystik und Realität in den Opernkostümen des Sylvano Bussotti, Edition Wissenschaft & Literatur, Marketing-und-Wirtschaft Verlagsgesellschaft Flade, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-922804-09-8.
  • Osmond-Smith, David. "Bussotti, Sylvano". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
  • Pinzauti, Leonardo. A colloquio con Sylvano Bussotti, in: Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana 4/1970, pp. 898–909.
  • Stoïanova, Ivanka. Geste ─ texte ─ musique, Éditions 10/18, Paris 1978.
  • Stoïanova, Ivanka. Mythos und Gedächtnis. Bemerkungen über das italienische Musiktheater: Luciano Berio ─ "Outis" und Sylvano Bussotti ─ "Tieste", in: Otto Kolleritsch (ed.), Das Musiktheater ─ Exempel der Kunst, Studien zur Wertungsforschung vol. 38, Universal Edition, Vienna and Graz, 2001, pp. 161–191.
  • Stoïanova, Ivanka. Entre détermination et aventure. Essais sur la musique de la deuxième moitié du XXeme siècle, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2004.
  • Stoïanova, Ivanka. Sylvano Bussotti: B. O. B.—Bussottioperaballet/Stratégies dissipatives dans "Questo fauno" et "Tieste". In Musiques vocales en Italie depuis 1945, edited by Pierre Michel and Gianmario Borio, pp. 29–60. Collection Recherche, edited by Sophie Stevance. Notre Dame de Bliquetuit: Millénaire III Éditions, 2005. ISBN 2-911906-11-X.

External links[edit]