Italian sketches: Sylvano Bussotti | The Florentine
September 14, 2021 – 9:57 AM
During five days between September 20 and 25, as part of Estate Fiorentina, several major Florentine cultural organizations will celebrate the Sylvano Bussotti’s 90th birthday, one of the city’s most versatile native sons, a composer and performer, artist, writer, actor, director, decorator and costume designer.
Born in Florence on October 1, 1931, Bussotti began studying music at a very young age, starting with the violin. Later, at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory, he studied piano, harmony and counterpoint, but he did not graduate because World War II interrupted his studies. The the relationship with his uncle, Tono Zancanaro, and his brother, Renzo, both painters, will be decisive in the evolution of the artist he will become, as will his subsequent meeting with the poet Aldo Braibanti.
“Although I left Florence a long time ago, I still have a deep relationship with this city which is bigger than me.
He continued his composition studies as an autodidact between 1949 and 1956. Bussotti partly attributes his love of music to the fact that his father was a bailiff at the Comunale Theater in Florence. As a child, he was able to see almost all the performances. From 1956 to 1958, he moved to Paris, where he took private lessons and met avant-garde members of the resident intelligentsia, such as composer and conductor Max Deutsch. In 1958, Florentine music began to be played in public, which resulted in concerts in Paris. This, in turn, led to major music publishing houses to publish his music.
In 1964-65, the Rockefeller Foundation invited the composer to Buffalo and New York, after winning three Società Italiana Musica Contemporanea awards in 1961, 1963 and 1965. A long list of other important awards followed in the years to come. In 1979, the Ford Foundation welcomed Bussotti to Berlin for a year. From 1965 a fundamental aspect of his work became the creation of musical theater performances, culminating in 1984, when he created BUSSOTTIOPERABALLET (BOB), in Genazzano, Lazio, where he still lives, which highlights stage concerts, theatrical performances, art shows and international festivals. Over the years, Bussotti’s career has encompassed artistic direction of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago. He has taught the history of musical theater and composition in prestigious academies, including the Scuola di Musica de Fiesole, in addition to direction of the music section of the Venice Biennale from 1987 to 1991. His music is performed all over the world and is often featured on the program of prestigious institutions, such as La Scala in Milan, the Venice Biennale, the Teatro Regio in Turin, the Arena in Verona and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino . As a visual artist, his works have also been exhibited in many places internationally.
Illustration of Sylvano Bussotti by Leo Cardini
The Florentine anniversary festivities in honor of Bussotti will focus on three aspects of his activities: film and sound production, choreography and the historical and artistic context in which he was active as a composer. The festivities will begin on September 20, as part of the Fabbrica Europa arts festival, with Sylvano Bussotti: the context, the scenes, a conversation during which Luca Scarlini will discuss with some of the protagonists of the cultural scene of which Bussotti was part. This highlight of his role as a national, international and multidisciplinary artist will be enriched by the archive photographic images of some of his productions. As a director, his idea of theater is to integrate music, dance, song, recitation and painting. This event will take place live at the PARC Performing Arts Research Center as well as on the social networks of the project partners.
On September 22, the Stensen Cultural Foundation will host an evening of screenings and performances as part of the Tempo Reale Festival since cinema occupies a preponderant place in all of Bussotti’s works of art throughout his career. With absolute avant-garde experience, Rara Movie (1965-69), the feature film Apologies is a significant example. Produced in Berlin in 1972, the music is by Sylvano Bussotti and of a real rarity. The program opens with the 5 Videogiornali della sestina musica 91, funny video clips made in 1991 for the Venice Biennale, in which Bussotti interacts with iconic celebrities of Italian pop culture of the time, including Maurizio Costanzo, Patty Pravo, Moira Orfei and Moana Pozzi.
On September 23, the feature film Bussotti by himself (1975), produced by Carlo Piccardi for Swiss Italian Television, in close collaboration with Bussotti, will be screened as part of the Florence Queer Festival at the La Compagnia cinema.
A double event will close the festivities on September 25. At the end of the afternoon, the book by Renzo Cresti Sylvano Bussotti and the brilliant opera (Maschietto Editore) will be presented at the Florence Opera. It tells the story of the artist’s Florentine childhood, his meeting with cultural figures, such as John Cage, Carmelo Bene, Umberto Eco and Pier Paolo Pasolini, and includes an unpublished work by Bussotti as well as a selection of his scores, which are works of art in themselves. .
Finally, in the evening, Ermafrodito, a concert-choreography will be staged at the Marino Marini Museum, narrated by Luca Scarlini with music by Sylvano Bussotti (Ermafrodito Gran Fantasia mitologica per chitarra, 1997). One of today’s greatest guitarists, Alberto Mesirca, will perform, while Luisa Cortesi dances. This event is free, but reservations are required.
In an interview, when Susanna Persichilli asked Bussotti about his special relationship with Florence, he replied: “Although I left Florence a long time ago, I continue to have a deep relationship with this city which is greater than me. Just like the city with him. Happy birthday, maestro!