The Fondazione Giorgio Cini Institute of Music has announced an important new acquisition: the personal archive of the composer Fausto Romitelli (1963-2004), a figure of crucial importance on the Italian and international music scene of the last thirty years. Thanks to the donation made by his sisters Valentina and Giorgia Romitelli in a deed signed on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, a new collection of documents has been added to the rich existing musical heritage of the Institute of Music, and at the same time opens a window on more recent developments in contemporary music in Italy.
Around 2,000 sheets with music sketches and drafts reveal the various stages in the work of composition and will enable scholars to reconstruct the development of Romitelli’s methods and explore the evolution of his thinking from the formative period with Franco Donatoni to his research at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris. In addition to autograph drafts of well-known works, the overall documents include unpublished youthful compositions, annotated scores, correspondences, concert programmes and a collection of sound recordings. Significantly, this is the first archive donated to the Foundation that also includes a computer, now a standard instrument in the world of music, and so highlights the latest phase in the study of contemporary composition, associated with the theme of information technology.
On the occasion of the donation, the composer’s sisters, Valentina and Giorgia Romitelli, made the following statement: “On one hand this donation solves the problem of what to do when a family has these kinds of treasures at home, or documents that have a value going beyond the life of the individual and therefore involving a great responsibility in preserving them over time and making them available for others in the future. The decision to donate them to the Fondazione Cini was the result of a dialogue begun years ago with Giovanni Morelli and which resumed with Gianmario Borio. From our point of view, the crucial factor in the choice was the efficiency of this institution, as well as its importance. Today we are here: we are signing a donation and creating an official archive, after having spoken with various other potential custodians, but without getting anywhere. So the fact we are here already speaks for itself: the fact of drafting and concluding the agreements through various steps and of having projects for the future.”
“The acquisition of the Fausto Romitelli Archive marks a significant development for the Institute of Music archives.” – comments Gianmario Borio, director of the Institute of Music – “It highlights our interest in the generation of composers born after the Second World War. Going beyond the generational limits of the previous acquisitions, the focus has moved to contemporary music and flags up the Institute’s interest in the recent history of composition.
Born in Gorizia in 1963, Fausto Romitelli died prematurely in Milan in 2004, leaving an indelible impression on subsequent generations of composers. In 1988 he graduated in composition from the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, Milan, under Umberto Rotondi; at the same time he attended advanced courses at the Accademia Chigiana, Siena, and the Scuola Civica, Milan, under the guidance of Franco Donatoni. In 1991 he moved to Paris to study new music information technologies at the IRCAM, with which he then collaborated from 1993 to 1996. The experimentation of the Spectralism movement – and especially the composers affiliated with L’Itinéraire – were to play a key role in the development of his mature musical language. In fact while the works of his formative period had been characterised by a craft compositional quality and a keen interest in the physical complexity of sound (in works such as Have Your Trip, for harp, guitar and mandolin,1988-89; Kû, for ensemble, 1989; and Nell’alto dei giorni immobili, for ensemble, 1990), by the mid-1990s Romitelli’s compositions had begun to take on more incisive features: the tendency to wear down and saturate sound (conceived as matter to be forged), the systematic use of repetition processes, and the integration of non-classical art music (psychedelic rock and techno music). Romitelli’s musical imagination was rich in literary ideas exploring the borderlands of dreams, hallucination and trance, as in his masterpiece Professor Bad Trip, for ensemble and electronics (1998-2000), based on his interpretation of a text by Henri Michaux. The work entitled Blood on the Floor, Painting 1986 (2000), on the other hand, was inspired by Francis Bacon, a painter whom Romitelli saw as a kindred spirit, whereas Dead City Radio: Audiodrome, for orchestra (2002) alludes to a film by David Cronenberg. Lastly, an important place in his production is occupied by An Index of Metals, for soprano, ensemble, electronics and multi-projection (2003), a video opera made in collaboration with Paolo Pachini.
Various conferences and festivals have been devoted to Romitelli’s music, including Anamorphoses – Autour de l’oeuvre de Fausto Romitelli (Strasbourg 2013) and the 2014 edition of Milano Musica.
The Institute for Music promotes research and the spread of knowledge in various fields of Western musical culture. Its activities are mainly focused on three areas: compositional processes, theory and practice of musical interpretation, and audiovisual experiences. These activities involve preserving and developing personal archives, publishing musicological literature, and organising conferences, seminars and musical events to encourage synergies between public and private Italian and international organisations. The Institute for Music is committed to acquiring, conserving, safeguarding and developing 20th and 21st-century archives, especially those built up by leading figures in the world of music, dance and audiovisual productions (Gian Francesco Malipiero, Alfredo Casella, Nino Rota, Camillo Togni, Ottorino Respighi, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, Aurél Milloss, Olga Rudge, Egida Sartori, Gino Gorini, Giacomo Manzoni, Roman Vlad, Giovanni Salviucci and Egisto Macchi). For this purpose, the Institute for Music collaborates with other Giorgio Cini Foundation institutes as well as the Archives General Management, the Veneto Archival Superintendency, the Cultural Heritage Management of the Veneto Region and private Italian and foreign organisations. It is also part of the Music Archives of the National Archive System, the Unified Information System for the Superintendencies and the 20th-Century Veneto Music project.