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Iannis Xenakis 1922 - 2001

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Xenakis is a leading avant-garde composer of the post-war era. He was educated in Greece, and became active in the resistance against Nazi occupation, which led to his imprisonment, violent injuries and his ultimately flight to France in 1947 to escape the death sentence. Having settled in Paris, he attended Messiaen's classes in 1952, and responded to the encouragement to develop an individual style based on his scientific training - indeed, he then very much followed his own path, avoiding existing styles, and the highly original music that resulted had its roots in architectural structures, mathematical processes and game theory.

Xenakis's orchestral works Metastaseis and Pithoprakta set him at the forefront of the avant-garde in late 1950s. He further explored complex rhythms and textures in ensemble works (such as Eonta and Akrata), and the culmination of that period came with the large-scale dramatic scores Oresteia and Kraanerg. He has composed prolifically, mainly for instrumental and orchestral forces, and his music is characterised by virtuosity, microtonal inflections, primal energy and ritualistic power.

"...really great music combines peace and struggle, serenity and pain... to escape from the trivial cycle of relationships in music, the musician, the artist, must be absolutely independent, which means absolutely alone." — Iannis Xenakis

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