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Iannis Xenakis Biography
Iannis Xenakis (May 29, 1922 - February 4, 2001) was a Greek composer who spent much of his life in Paris, France. He is acclaimed as one of the most important composers of contemporary music.

He was born in Brăila, Romania, and studied architecture in Athens, Greece. Xenakis participated in the Greek Resistance during the World War II and the first phase of Greek Civil War as a member of the students company Lord Byron of ELAS (Greek Peoples Liberation Army). He received a severe face wound and escaped a death sentence. In the '50s he fled to Paris and worked with Le Corbusier. While his assistant, Xenakis designed the Philips Pavilion, home of the première of Edgar Varèse's Poème Électronique at the 1958 Brussels International Fair. He is particularly remembered for his pioneering electronic and computer music, and for the use of stochastic mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability (Maxwell-Boltzmann kynetic theory of gasses in Pithoprakta, aleatory distribution of points on a plane in Diamorphoses, minimal constraints in Achorripsis, Gaussian distribution in ST/10 and Atrées, Markovian chains in Analogiques), game theory (in Duel and Stratégie), group theory (Nomos Alpha), and Boolean algebra (in Herma and Eonta). In keeping with his use of probabilistic theories, many of Xenakis' pieces are, in his own words, "a form of composition which is not the object in itself, but an idea in itself, that is to say, the beginnings of a family of compositions". In 1962 he published Musique Formelles—later revised, expanded and translated into Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition in 1971—a collection of essays on his musical ideas and composition techniques, regarded as one of the most important theoretical works of 20th century music.

Some of his most important works are:

Metastasis (part III of the triptych Anastenaria) (1953-1954), for orchestra of 60 musicians
Pithoprakta (1955-1956), for orchestra of 49 musicians
Eonta (1963), for piano and 5 brass instruments
Oresteïa (1965-1966), on texts from Aeschylos, suite for children's choir, mixed choir with musical accessories and ensemble of 12 musicians
Terretektorh (1965-1966), for 88 musicians dispersed among the audience
Medea (1967), scene music on texts from Seneca, for male choir playing rythms with cymbals and 5 musicians
Nomos Alpha (1966), for solo cello
Polytope de Montréal (1967), spectacle of light and sound for 4 identical orchestras of 15 musicians
Nuits (1967), on Sumerian, Assyrian, Achaean and other phonemes, for 12 mixed solo voices or mixed choir
Nomos Gamma (1967-1968), for 98 musicians dispersed among the audience
Anaktoria (1969), for ensemble of 8 musicians
Kraanerg (1968-1969), ballet music, for orchestra and four-channel tape
Persephassa (1969), for 6 percussionists
Persepolis (1971), for light and sound (eight-channel tape)
Cendrées (1973), for mixed choir of 72 (or 36) singers chanting phonemes by Iannis Xenakis and 73 musicians
N'Shima (1975), on Hebrew words and phonemes, for 2 mezzo-sopranos (or altos) and 5 musicians
Jonchaies (1977), for orchestra of 109 musicians
Pléïades (1978), for 6 percussionists
Shaar (1983), for large string orchestra
Jalons (1986), for ensemble of 15 musicians
Keqrops (1986), for solo piano and orchestra of 92 musicians
Kassandra (Oresteïa II) (1987), for amplified baritone (also playing a 20-string psaltery) and percussion
La Déesse Athéna (Oresteïa III) (1992), for baritone solo and mixed ensemble of 11 instruments

Xenakis, Iannis: Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (Harmonologia Series No.6). Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2001. ISBN 1576470792
Matossian, Nouritza: Xenakis. London: Kahn and Averill, 1990. ISBN 187108217X
Varga Bálint András: Conversations with Iannis Xenakis. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. ISBN 0571179592
Iannis Xenakis Resources
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Iannis Xenakis.