Iannis Xenakis

All my experience in recent years has led me to the conviction that the future of music lies with the progress of modern technology. This will affect both how we create and listen to music. I observed this in the performances I created for Montreal, with electronic flashes, for Cluny with the Polytope lasers, and for Persepolis, where the performance took place at night in the ruins and in the mountains, with fires, projectors and children carrying torches. The music became visual, thanks to the use of space. […] I have always been struck by the mediocrity of concert halls, which are not conceived for contemporary music and which are not much better adapted to older music. In Beethoven’s symphonies, for example, there is no reason to be outside the sound space. And in general I dislike seeing the orchestra in a frontal position, which obliges the listener to remain outside the music. […] We need therefore to invent the architectural form that will liberate collective listening from all these disadvantages […]. But I expect also that technical progress will have great impact on individual listening. […] There can be no doubt. Thanks to technology, we can be certain that the music of the past, like the music that is yet to come, will be music that has never been heard before.

Extract from: Iannis Xenakis, „Autobiographical sketch“, in Gérard Montassier, Le fait culturel, Paris, 1980.

A composer, architect, and civil engineer, Iannis Xenakis was born on 29th May 1922 in Braila (Romania) and became a French citizen in 1965. He studied at the Polytechnic Institute in Athens before embarking on studies in musical composition with Hermann Scherchen at Gravesano, and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris with Olivier Messiaen. From 1947 to 1960, he was an assistant of Le Corbusier as an engineer and architect. Xenakis was a member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin from 1983 to 2001.