Giacinto Scelsi: a composer's path towards improvisation

January 17.2019

Initiator: Marco Fusi

Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi regarded the process of improvising music as a means of removing the consciousness of the composer from the process of creating music; he believed that while improvising in deep meditation, he could become a channel for higher forces which would enable the creation of works that were otherwise impossible through ordinary composition. His extemporaneous sonic actions were recorded on a magnetic tape and the transcription of the scores delegated to a third person; today’s performers are faced with written scores that are a mere blueprint of the sonic phenomenon produced by the improvising composer.

In order to approach the rendition of Scelsi’s opus, performers are forced to question the basic concepts of their practice, such as their relationship with the written score, the function and limitations of their musical instrument and the purposes of a public performance. The stereotypical role of the performer as a faithful reproducer of the composer’s score cannot apply here; the players are invited into a dialogue with all of the composer’s artefacts, audio recordings and the original instruments available to gain an exhaustive understanding of the creative process and to draw their own performance practice from this information. 

While the seminar will introduce the process of building a possible performance practice for Scelsi's works, the following concert will present the world premiere of the rediscovered Divertimento No. 1 for violin and piano alongside other works by Scelsi, Wim Henderickx and Daniela Fantechi.

© Fondazione Isabella Scelsi

Contributions by:

  • Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini (Scientific Director, Fondazione Isabella Scelsi, Roma)
  • Anna D’Errico (Pianist)
  • Wim Henderickx (Composer, Composition Professor, Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerpen)
  • Daniela Fantechi (Composer, PhD candidate, Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerpen)
  • Esajas Järnegard (Composer, PhD candidate, University of Gothenburg)


  • 14:00  Marco Fusi, Giacinto Scelsi’s compositional process and the creative role of the performer
  • 15:00  Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini, The Scelsi Foundation and its resources for researchers and for performers; the Archives, the tapes and original instruments
  • 15:30  Marco Fusi, Anna D’Errico, The rediscovery of Divertimento N.1 – interpretative issues and perspectives
  • 16:00  Break
  • 16:30  Anna D’Errico, Daniela Fantechi, Inside the resonance: Giacinto Scelsi at the piano
  • 17:00  Wim Henderickx, East and West, a composer’s approach
  • 17:30  Esaias Järnegard, Liminal practice
  • 20:00  Concert 'Rediscovering Scelsi’ (free entrance, no registration needed)

    Wim Henderickx        Raga III (1995/2017)
                                          for viola d’amore and tape
    Giacinto Scelsi            Quatre illustrations sur la Métamorphose de Vishnu (1953)
                                          for solo piano
    Giacinto Scelsi            L’âme ailée / L’ âme ouverte (1973)
                                          for solo violin
    Daniela Fantechi        Prossimo (2017)
                                          for violin and live electronics - National Premiere
    Giacinto Scelsi            Aitsi (1974)
                                          for amplified piano
    Giacinto Scelsi            Divertimento N. 1 (1938)
                                          for violin and piano - World Premiere

    Anna D’Errico             piano
    Marco Fusi                  violin / viola d’amore
    Daniela Fantechi        live electronic 

Venue: Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Muziekstudio