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Iannis Xenakis revolutionized post-war music more forcefully than any other 20th-century composer. A Resistance leader in World War II, he escaped from Greece to Paris under sentence of death. He became one of Le Corbusier’s chief architects, and a pioneer of the computer age in music and the arts. Milan Kundera called him ‘the prophet of insensibility’.
Xenakis harnessed chaos theory and invented ‘stochastic music’. He freed the sound spectrum from western scales and based music on natural principles. He combined architecture, light and sound in a radical new art form to create a boundless aesthetic in music. Shunned by contemporaries, this influential thinker created over 150 vast compositions imbued with elemental passion, and brilliantly reinvented the landscape of music forever.
Since it was first published in 1981, Nouritza Matossian’s perceptive book on Xenakis has helped students, musicians and audiences appreciate his music. She shares his Greek culture and interest in philosophy, and has chronicled vital discoveries in his work. A reserved man, he spoke frankly to her about his mysterious methods of composition, and his relationships with Varèse, Messiaen, Le Corbusier and Boulez.
Xenakis’ prophecy that computers, science and art would converge makes this book essential reading for understanding the digital revolution of our time. Matossian’s well-researched biography is an unrivalled classic on modern music. This new edition includes an unpublished interview and essays, and is illustrated with musical and architectural sketches, scores and recently released archival photos.
The New Yorker • ‘An intelligent book.’
The Independent • ‘A revealing contribution to the history of post-war avant-garde.’
Le Monde • ‘An accessible biography … and an excellent introduction.’
Library Journal • ‘An authoritative choice. Fascinating. Highly recommended.’
Journal de Genève • ‘Written only after Matossian tamed the savage inventor of
Perspectives of New Music • ‘Xenakis is a work that has a truly wide range of appeal … an asset to any library’s collection on contemporary music.’