Radio SMCQ: Iannis Xenakis

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Braila, Romania, 1922 — Paris, France, 2001

  • Composer

Iannis Xenakis was born in Braila, Romania, of Greek parents. From his early childhood, he thought of dedicating himself to both science and music. He studied in Greece, notably at the Athens Polytechnic School (1940-1947), where he received a diploma in engineering. He started music when he was twelve. Later, in Paris, he studied composition with Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud, music aesthetics and analysis with Olivier Messiaen, and followed the courses of Hermann Scherchen at the Gravesano studio. Iannis Xenakis also studied mathematics and architecture and was, for ten years, the assistant of Le Corbusier. His career as a composer starts in 1953, when his first works are performed with great success at the Donaueschingen Festival, bringing him world-wide acclaim. His musical quests follow the lines traced by his dual vocation. He has created a new vocabulary and new organizations of sound (sound “masses”) by using elements from the laws of probability and the Maxwell-Boltzmann law (“stochastic music”). He also used elements from set theory and from mathematical logic (“symbolic music”). Xenakis has used the computer to establish the basic ideas of some of his works. Every new work reflects and renews Xenakis’ quest to extend the field of sound possibilities.

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