19 Apr 2015

Scelsi - The Composer Who Never Existed

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 19 April 2015

scelsi signAlthough Giacinto Scelsi left behind hundreds of tapes of his music when he died, he did not consider himself a composer – more a musical postman. As Ryan Smith explains in this programme, his deliveries were notes produced on his piano that came from his meditations on the depth of sound. He recorded these on tape and later, they were transcribed to paper.

When asked by a musicologist who came to his door, the composer said, “Scelsi is a composer who never existed.”

In the lead-up to concert performances, the organisers would ask him for a photograph and Scelsi would always submit the same image, a circle sitting above a horizontal line.

Image: Scelsi suggested his preferred composer portrait could be a sun hovering over the horizon or maybe an underlined zero.