Luigi Dallapiccola

The Italian composer Luigi Dallapiccola (1904 – 1975) belongs to an in-between generation. In the musical life of Italy under Mussolini, which was conservative and dominated by neo-classicism, he adapted Arnold Schönberg’s twelve-tone method. This made him into an isolated outcast but also a role model and pioneer for younger composers like Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna. Dallapiccola was born in Istria and grew up in Trieste, where he began his musical education, and studied in Florence from 1921. Dallapiccola’s attendance at a 1924 performance of Schönberg’s “Pierrot lunaire”, conducted by the composer himself, was to prove a deciding impulse towards his own creative work. Initially, he earned his livelihood as a pianist and in 1931, he began to teach at the Florence Conservatory. At festivals such as those hosted by the International Association for New Music (Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, IGNM), he was able to get more closely acquainted with the music and the composers of Schönberg’s school, including Anton Webern and René Leibowitz, and to form important contacts.

The performance of “Canto di prigiona” at the first post-war IGNM-festival in 1946 brought Dallapiccola crucial recognition as a composer. The world premieres of the one-act piece “Il Prigioniero” (1950) and of “Canti di liberazione” (1955) were great international successes. If one were to identify one major work among his oeuvre, it would have to be the opera “Ulisse”, which Dallapiccola composed from 1960 until its 1968 premiere in Berlin. Dallapiccola died in Florence in 1975.

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