Xenakis, Iannis

Xenakis, Iannis
born May 29, 1922, Brăila, Rom.
died Feb. 4, 2001, Paris, France

Romanian-born Greek-French composer.

His Greek family returned to Greece in 1932, and he studied engineering. A wartime resistance fighter, he was forced to flee Greece in 1947 when he was denounced as a communist. He worked closely with the architect Le Corbusier (1947–59), while studying composition with Olivier Messiaen and others. Interested in expressing mathematical structures in music, he used the term "stochastic music" to refer to situations in which the number of elements precludes prediction of what each element will do but the overall behaviour of the group is determinate (see stochastic process). He often based his compositions on standard concepts of mathematics and physics, such as the Fibonacci sequence (Metastasis, 1954), the Boltzmann constant (Pithoprakta, 1956), and Markov chains (Analogique A and Analogique B, 1958–59).

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▪ 2002

      Romanian-born Greek-French composer and architect (b. May 29, 1922, Braila, Rom.—d. Feb. 4, 2001, Paris, France), based his music on mathematical principles, particularly theories of probability. Although his music was generated by the rigorous application of nonmusical ideas, the results were often powerful and moving. He created orchestral, ensemble, and solo works for traditional instruments and also used electronically generated sounds. He studied music as a child, but he was trained principally as an engineer and architect, entering the Polytechnic School in Athens in 1940. A member of the Greek resistance during World War II, he was wounded in 1945 and lost sight in one eye. He received a degree in 1947 but, under a sentence of death for his political activities, fled to Paris. From 1947 to 1959 he worked at the studio of Swiss architect Le Corbusier; there Xenakis was involved in the design of projects that included the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. During this time he also studied with a number of prominent French musicians, including Olivier Messiaen, and in 1953–54 he completed Metastasis, a work for orchestra and his first to gain widespread attention. Other early works included Pithoprakta, for trombones, percussion, and strings, which George Balanchine later combined with Metastasis to form a ballet. Concerto PH, using the amplified sound of burning charcoal, was created for the Philips Pavilion. Xenakis also produced electronic music to accompany laser projections, as at the site of ancient Persepolis, now in Iran, in 1971. He created a number of works for solo percussion, as well as Pleiades for percussion sextet, along with works using literary texts. In 1966 he formed a centre for the study of mathematical music. and He taught at Indiana University at Bloomington from 1967 to 1972 and at the Sorbonne from 1973 to 1989

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▪ Greek composer
born May 29, 1922, Brăila, Romania
died February 4, 2001, Paris, France
 Romanian-born French composer, architect, and mathematician who originated musique stochastique, music composed with the aid of electronic computers and based upon mathematical probability systems.

      Xenakis was born to a wealthy family of Greek ancestry, and he moved to Greece in 1932. He fought in the Greek resistance movement during World War II, losing an eye. After graduation in 1947 from the Athens institute of technology, Xenakis was exiled from Greece owing to his political activities. He moved to Paris, where he was for 12 years associated with the architect Le Corbusier. During this time he designed the Philips Pavilion for the Brussels International Exhibition of 1958. During his 30s he turned seriously to musical composition, receiving training with Darius Milhaud (Milhaud, Darius) and studying composition under Olivier Messiaen (Messiaen, Olivier) at the Paris Conservatory from 1950 to 1962. Following Messiaen's suggestion, he began to use mathematical models in composing his musical pieces. His formal approach was rare among European composers, who had largely embraced serialism. In 1954 he began his experiments in stochastic music with the composition Métastasis. Xenakis's article “La Crise de la musique sérielle” (1955; “The Crisis of Serial Music”) elucidated his rigorously logical techniques, wherein the performers—mostly on standard instruments—are directed by a specially devised notation to produce sounds specified by a computer programmed by the composer.

      His work Achorripsis (1958) for 21 instruments, led Xenakis to formulate his minimal rules of composition. These rules were expanded in the program for ST/10-1,080262 (1956–62); the symbols of the title indicate that this is a stochastic work, his first for 10 instruments, computed on February 8, 1962. Several other compositions, including ST/4-1,080262 for string quartet, Atrées (Hommage à Blaise Pascal) for 10 instruments, and Morisma-Amorisma for 4 instruments, were based on the same program. For this series of works, he used an IBM 7090 computer to control note sequence, instrumentation, pitch, duration, and dynamics. The performers have no freedom to improvise, but the resulting sound is fluid, homogeneous, and natural.

      Xenakis's long and fruitful association with the Paris Instrumental Ensemble for Contemporary Music led to frequent performances and recordings of his works for chamber ensemble. He established the School of Mathematical and Automatic Music in 1966. Other works by Xenakis include Polla ta dhina for children's chorus and orchestra (1962), Akrata (1964–65) for 16 wind instruments, and Cendrées (1974) for chorus and orchestra. He also composed works solely for electronic reproduction, such as Polytope of Cluny (1972), sound and light space with 7-channel electronic tape, and Mycenae A (1978), stereo tape realized with a UPIC computer, as well as works with both human and electronic components, such as Pour les Paix (1982), for mixed chorus, electronic tape, and narrators. O-mega (1997) for percussion and ensemble was his final composition. His published books include Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (1971; partially published in French as Musicques formelles, 1963) and a transcript of his 1976 thesis defense, Arts-Sciences, Alloys (1985; originally published in French, 1979).

Additional Reading
Mario Boris, Iannis Xenakis (1967); Iannis Xenakis, Formalized Music (1971, revised 1992); Nouritza Matossian, Iannis Xenakis (1986); Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis (1996).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Iannis Xenakis — en 1975 Naissance 29 mai 1922 Braïla …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Iannis Xenakis — en 1975. Iannis Xenakis (Γιάννης Ξενάκης, también transliterado en francés como Yannis Xénakis) fue un compositor y arquitecto de ascendencia griega nacido el 29 de mayo de 1922 en Brăila, Rumania; se nacionalizó francés y pasó gran parte de su… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Xenakis — Iannis Xenakis Iannis Xenakis Naissance 29 mai 1922 Braïla,  Roumanie Décès 4 février 2001 Paris …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Xenakis — (Iannis) (né en 1922) compositeur français d origine grecque: Metastasis (1954), Roaï (1991) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Iannis Xenakis — modernist composer, musical theoretician, and architect. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century. [MSN Encarta encyclopedia, “Iannis Xenakis (Ιάννης Ξενάκης) (May 29, 1922 February 4,… …   Wikipedia

  • Iannis Xenakis — 1975 Iannis Xenakis (griechisch Ιάννης Ξενάκης, * 29. Mai 1922 in Brăila, Rumänien; † 4. Februar 2001 in Paris) war ein Komponist und Architekt griechischer Herkunf …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • XENAKIS (I.) — Il est toujours difficile de juger de l’évolution d’un art lorsque manque l’indispensable recul que le temps peut seul nous accorder. Ainsi est il téméraire d’attribuer une valeur privilégiée à telle des tendances de la musique actuelle lorsqu’il …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Iannis Xenakis — (Γιάννης Ξενάκης, también transliterado en francés como Yannis Xénakis), fue un compositor y arquitecto de ascendencia griega nacido el 29 de mayo de 1922 en Braila, Rumania; se nacionalizó francés y pasó gran parte de su vida en París, donde… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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