A musically gifted child, Scelsi studied composition in Rome with Giacinto Sallustio. From the period between the two wars until the beginning of the 1950’s, he travelled often to Africa, the Orient and spent extended periods of time in France and Switzerland, where he worked with Egon Koehler. He studied dodcaphonism in Vienna in 1935-36 with Walter Klein, a student of Schoenberg.
At the beginning of the 1950’s, coming out of long spiritual crisis, he developed a new conception of music, in which sound is at the centre of his preoccupations and he considered himself from that point on as a kind of medium receiving messages emanating from a transcendental reality. In Rome, during the same years, he became part of the Nuova Consonanza Group, where Franco Evangelisti was most notably a member. The creation of Quattron Pezzi su una nota sola (1959) marked the end of ten intense years of experimentation with sound; his mature works demonstrate a depth, a de-multiplication and the peeling away into small component parts. Up until his death, he continued to write music, but also poems and essays on aesthetics, but his music is rarely played. During the 1970’s, admiring young composers like Tristan Murail and Gérard Grisey, discovered his work, allowing him to finally be recognized.
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