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Luigi Nono

Avant garde composer

Nono at a press conference in 1979

Venetian-born Luigi Nono (1924-1990) was, along with Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the musical greats of the latter 20th century. He came from a well-to-do artistic family, and fought in the Resistance during the Second World War, when he joined the Italian Communist Party. Politics and the search for social justice would influence his work for the rest of his life.

Nono was a great admirer of Arnold Schonberg: the composition that first made Nono famous was his Variazioni canoniche sur la serie de l'opus 41 de Schonberg (1950) at the International New Music Festival at Darmstadt. Five years later, he married Schonberg's daughter Nuria, and produced another of his major works, Il canto sospeso (1955–56) for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra.

In 1958, Nono in a lecture spoke of a 'Darmstadt School', a term still used today for the provocative, edgy music composed during the 1950s by himself and Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Karlheinz Stockhausen and others. His best-known work of that early period, Intolleranza 1960, with its sets by Emilio Vedova and political slogans and quotes from Brecht and Sartre caused a riot between leftists and rightists at its premiere in 1961 at La Fenice.

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Music and Musicians

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by F. Pereira / Anefo - Nationaal Archief; CC License