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Stroppa, Marco

Composer, scholar and teacher, Marco Stroppa (born in Verona on December 8, 1959) belongs to the first generation of Italian composers that made use of computers even as students, viewing them as a perfectly natural and legitimate means for composing music, on a par with the instruments of traditional music.

Stroppa studied music in Italy at the Verona, Milan and Venice conservatories between 1980 and 1983, obtaining diplomas in piano (with Laura Palmieri), choral music, choir direction, composition (with Guido Begal, Renato Dionisi and Azio Corghi) and electronic music (with Alvise Vidolin). Thanks to a scholarship from the Fulbright Foundation he undertook further studies in the United States between 1984 and 1986 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory (computer-generated music, computer science, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence). Between 1980 and 1984 he worked as a researcher and composer at the University of Padua Centre for Computational Sonology (CSC), where he wrote his first mixed composition (Traiettoria, for piano and computer-generated sounds), a work which immediately met with considerable success and which continues to be performed regularly.

In 1982 the composer was invited by Pierre Boulez to join a group of composers and researchers at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), the most important centre in the world for computer music. There he held the post of director of the Department of Musical Research from 1987 to 1990, but he relinquished this position to dedicate himself entirely to composition, research and teaching. His uninterrupted association with IRCAM has been crucial for his musical growth and for his approach to electronic music.

A highly respected teacher, Stroppa has given lessons throughout the world. In 1987 he founded the composition course and the computer music workshop at the International Bartók Festival in Szombathély (Hungary), one of the most important summer programmes in Europe, dedicated to the music of Béla Bartók and the 20th century. As director of these programmes over a period of 13 years he was able to meet great Hungarian musicians like Péter Eötvös, Zoltán Kocsis, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Miklos Perényi and Lászlo Somfai and to discover the splendid work of innumerable poets. élet...fogytiglan, dialogo immaginario fra un poeta e un filosofo and Hommage à Gy. K. testify to the intensity and importance of these encounters.

In 1999 Stroppa was appointed to the position of professor of composition and computer music at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany, where he succeeded Helmut Lachenmann. He has also taught at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris and Lyon. In addition, since his arrival in Paris he has regularly participated in the teaching activities at IRCAM. The winner of numerous prizes, Marco Stroppa has also published a large number of essays in various international reviews.

Often assembled in the form of thematic cycles, Stroppa’s works draws inspiration from a wide range of experiences: his reading of poetic and mythological texts, a thoughtful engagement in ecological and socio-political issues - in the tradition of Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono and the Italian Resistance - the study of ethnomusicology (thanks to Gilles Léothaud’s seminars in Paris) and his personal contact with the performers for whom he writes including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Teodoro Anzellotti, Mario Caroli, Cécile Daroux, Claude Délangle, Florian Hölscher, Thierry Miroglio, Jean-Guyen Queyras and Benny Sluchin. The composer’s repertory includes compositions for traditional instruments as well as for new media concert music and musical theatre, two operas for radio and projects for special occasions such as the music for piano and electronics for Pascal Rambert’s Race.

Amongst his most important thematic projects are a cycle of concertos for solo instrument and spacialised orchestra or ensemble, inspired by the poetry of W.B. Yeats (Upon a Blade of Grass, for piano and orchestra, From Needle's Eye, for trombone, double quintet and percussion), two books of Miniature estrose for solo piano, a cycle of compositions for instrument and “chamber electronics” (a term that the composer himself coined), inspired by the poetry of E.E. Cummings (Auras, little i, I will not kiss your flag, ...of Silence) and a series of works of spacialised chamber music for various acoustic instruments. Come Natura di Foglia for voice and electronics, commissioned by IRCAM, was his first vocal work, after which followed Cantilena, for three 16-voice choirs, Lamento, for 6-voice choir and Perché non riusciamo a vederla? Cris, appels et clameurs for chapel choir and viola obbligata ad libitum.

His interest for sound, space, perception and cognitive psychology have lead Stroppa to rethink for expressive ends the positioning of the instruments on the stage so as to generate a spatial dramaturgy that manifests itself and emerges with the flow of the music.

His theatrical work Re Orso, based on a text by Arrigo Boito, premiered in Paris, at the Opéra Comique, on 19th May 2012.