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Iannis Xenakis

Composer and Music Theorist.

Iannis Xenakis (May 29, 1922 – February 4, 2001) was a Greek composer, music theorist, and architect-engineer. After 1947, he fled Greece, becoming a naturalized citizen of France. He is commonly recognized as one of the most important post-war avant-garde composers. Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models in music such as applications of set theory, stochastic processes and game theory and was also an important influence on the development of electronic and computer music. He integrated music with architecture, designing music for pre-existing spaces, and designing spaces to be integrated with specific music compositions and performances.

Among his most important works are Metastaseis (1953–4) for orchestra, which introduced independent parts for every musician of the orchestra; percussion works such as Psappha (1975) and Pléïades (1979); compositions that introduced spatialization by dispersing musicians among the audience, such as Terretektorh (1966); electronic works created using Xenakis's UPIC system; and the massive multimedia performances Xenakis called polytopes. Among the numerous theoretical writings he authored, the book Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (French edition 1963, English translation 1971) is regarded as one of his most important. As an architect, Xenakis is primarily known for his early work under Le Corbusier: the Sainte Marie de La Tourette, on which the two architects collaborated, and the Philips Pavilion at Expo 58, which Xenakis designed alone.


1.) Zbigniew Skowron, ed. (2001). Lutoslawski Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 122-123. ISBN 9780198166603. "In accordance with his atheist views, Xenakis emphasizes the finality of death as the ultimate event of human life, and this is probably why wild shrieks and moans punctuate his score."

2.) Iliescu, Mihu. Beyond the modern-postmodern cleavage: Xenakis’ mythical thinking, p. 4. "On the other hand, Xenakis is a non religious modern man who regards himself as an atheist. He does not conceive of repeating in any way the work of anyone else, be it a god."

3.) "Man is one, indivisible, and total. He thinks with his belly and feels with his mind. I would like to propose what, to my mind, covers the term "music":...7. It is a mystical (but atheistic) asceticism..." Iannis Xenakis, Formalized music: thought and mathematics in composition (1992), page 181.

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