Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi

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9780810884243: Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi

Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi showcases recent scholarly criticism on the music and philosophy of the brilliantly original composer Giacinto Scelsi. In this collection, Franco Sciannameo and Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini select and translate into English for the first time essays that reflect the evolution of recent scholarship on Scelsi’s musical compositions. Music as Dream opens with “The Scelsi Case,” which erupted shortly after Scelsi’s death in 1988 when composer Vieri Tosatti claimed ownership of his works. This quarrel reached its zenith in the pages of PianoTime’s March 1989 issue, where musicologist Guido Zaccagnini questioned a group of noted composers, writers, and arts managers about whether a composer can claim sole authorship for a work accomplished in collaboration with others.

The essays are wide-ranging in scope. French musicologist Michelle Biget-Mainfroy, a specialist in “gestural” piano writing, offers an in-depth study of Scelsi’s complex piano output; Gianmario Borio looks at Scelsi’s “Sound as Compositional Process”; Alessandra Montali examines and details Scelsi’s theoretical and literary writings; Luciano Martinis and Franco Sciannameo explore the lives and whereabouts of obscure composers Giacinto Sallustio, Walther Klein, and Richard Falk, who were Scelsi’s collaborators until the early 1940s when Tosatti took sole charge; Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini elaborates on Scelsi’s most important composition of his first period, presenting a tour-de-force that pieces together its complex story through research at the newly organized Scelsi Archive at the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi in Rome; and Friedrich Jaecker’s and Sandro Marrocu’s essays also draw on research conducted at the archive of Fondazione. Finally, an updated bibliography and discography conclude the book

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About the Author:

Franco Sciannameo is professor and associate dean at the College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of Nino Rota, Federico Fellini and the Making of an Italian Cinematic Folk Opera: Amarcord (2005); Giuseppe Mazzini’s Philosophy of Music: Envisioning a Social Opera (1836) (2005); Nino Rota’s The Godfather Trilogy (2010), and Phil Trajetta (1777–1854), Patriot, Musician, Immigrant (2010).

Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini, one of Italy’s foremost musicologists and twentieth-century music specialists, has written on Casella, Nono, Petrassi, and Scelsi among others. She has edited both Italian and French editions of Giacinto Scelsi’s autobiography Il sogno 101 (both published in 2010). Pellegrini is the scientific director of Fondazione Isabella Scelsi in Rome.


This unique essay collection (the first on the composer in English) documents the evolution of scholarship about the compositions of Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) since his death. Sciannameo (fine arts, Carnegie Mellon U.) and Pellegrini, a musicologist and twentieth-century music specialist, assemble and translate 11 essays on his music and philosophy that were originally published in Italian, German, and French. European musicologists, performers, and composers, as well as a friend of Scelsi, analyze gestures in his piano music; his compositional process; the expressive atonality in his music; his theoretical and literary writings; the lives of his collaborators, composers Giacinto Sallustio, Walther Klein, and Richard Falk; his early work Rotativa; and the improvisations on audio tapes at the Fondazione Isabella Scelsi archives. Also included is a roundtable discussion from 1989 that considers debates about the authorship of his compositions after his death, when Vieri Tosatti claimed authorship. A comprehensive and detailed discography of recordings and collections is included. (Book News, Inc.)

This is doubtlessly a true of the German musicology. (Info-Netz-Musik)

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