Sylvano Bussotti was born in Florence on 1st October 1931. He began learning to play the violin with Margherita Castellani even before he had turned five years of age. Later at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence he went on to study harmony and counterpoint under Roberto Lupi and piano under Luigi Dallapiccola. Forced to suspend his studies because of the war, he never actually obtained a formal qualification.
Three figures played a crucial role in Bussotti’s education: his brother Renzo and his maternal uncle Tono Zancanaro, both painters, and later, the poet Aldo Braibanti. From 1949 to 1956, studying by himself, he managed to develop a deep knowledge of composition. Later in Paris in the years between 1956 and 1958 he attended the private courses of Max Deutsch. There he had the opportunity to meet Pierre Boulez and Heinz-Klaus Metzger, who took him to Darmstadt, where he would meet John Cage. His introduction to the public took place in Germany in 1958 with the performance of his music by the pianist David Tudor. This was followed by the presentation in Paris of pieces performed by Cathy Berberian under the direction of Pierre Boulez.
Universal Edition and, subsequently, Moeck and Bruzzichelli were the first publishers to publish his scores. But it was with Casa Ricordi that Bussotti, in 1956, established a strong, on-going publishing relationship.
In 1964 and 1965, after winning the SIMC prize in 1961, 1963 and 1965, he was sponsored by the Rockerfeller Foundation to live and work in Buffalo and New York in the USA.
He received the All'Amelia prize at the Biennale in Venice in 1967, the Toscani d'Oggi prize in 1974 and the Psacaropulo prize in Turin in 1979. In 1972 thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation he was a guest of the DAAD as artist-in-residence in Berlin. He has served as artistic director at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and at the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago. He has taught the history of music theatre at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Aquila. In 1980 he worked as a teacher of composition and analysis at the School of Music in Fiesole, and from 1987 to 1991 he acted as director of the music section at the Biennale in Venice.
Right from when he was a boy, as well as composing music, he has practised drawing and painting; exhibitions of his art have been mounted in various countries around the world. His concert activity has led him to develop a keen interest in theatre and this in turn has led him to become involved in cinema and television. Since 1965 the focus of his attention has been on music theatre. This has found concrete expression in the context of BUSSOTTIOPERABALLET, otherwise known as the B.O.B., which was founded by Bussotti in Genazzano in 1984 and which produces concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions and other initiatives with a wide and appreciative international following.