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Gentilucci, Armando

(October 8, 1939 - November 12, 1989)

Armando Gentilucci was born into a family of musicians in Lecce in 1939. He studied music at the Conservatory of Milan under the guidance of Franco Donatoni and Bruno Bettinelli, obtaining a diploma in composition, choir music, piano and orchestral conducting.

He began his teaching career at the conservatories of Bolzano and Milan and at the same time started to compose music in line with the avant-garde experimentalism of Bruno Maderna and Luigi Nono.
In 1969 he was appointed director of the Achille Peri Music Institute in Reggio Emilia, which under his guidance quickly became a pilot institute in the field of music teaching. The originality of his approach consisted in combining traditional, academic study with the promotion of a careful attention to the themes of contemporary music culture.
The institute installed highly fruitful collaborative relationships with other cultural bodies in the city of Reggio Emilia and with various other interlocutors, giving life to a flurry of cultural initiatives aimed at promoting contemporary music among the public at large. Launched under the programme label Musica/Realtà, these initiatives were supported by a range of other musicians as well as Gentilucci: Luigi Pestalozza, Claudio Abbado, Maurizio Pollini and Luigi Nono.

In this same period the composer worked intensively on a theoretical essay on the languages of the music avant-garde of those years. This work later found concrete form in the book Oltre l'avanguardia: un invito al molteplice (Beyond the Avant-garde: An Invitation to the Multiple) published in1980.
Gentilucci’s compositions received recognition in a range of prestigious, international music events including the Serate musicali fiorentine in 1962, the Ricordi-Rai in 1968, the Venice Biennale, the Berlin Biennale, the Holland Festival and a number of other festivals of the International Society for Contemporary Music (He was a prize-winner in the 1979 festival in Tel Aviv).
In 1980 his piece, Il tempo sullo sfondo, was performed in the form of a ballet at the Piccola Scala. In this piece the composer gives full expression to his theory of “harmonic fields”, according to which a harmonic context needs to be delineated by way of entrusting an interval or a series of intervals to a wide variety of orchestral registers, without any particular restrictions on the concatenation of the chords but rather with an attention to carefully investigating the sound.

Gentilucci’s most important compositions include the works Figure, Sequenze for orchestra, Diacronie, Diagramma for clarinet, violin and piano, Strofe di Ungaretti, Siamo prossimi al risveglio, Le clessidre di Dürer for 4 instruments, Studi per un Dies Irae for orchestra and a work for violin and magnetic tape entitled Come qualcosa palpita nel fondo.
His most substantial work, however, the opera Moby Dick (1986-88), on a libretto based on the book by Melville, has not yet been performed. In this work the themes of temporal suspension and the suspension of harmonic fields that the composer had already confronted in Il tempo sullo sfondo and Le clessidre di Dürer (1985) are given decisive expression in the definition not just of the characters but also of the dramaturgic setting, where the sea becomes an allegory of the psyche and a figurative pretext for the musical expression of the harmonic fields.
Since 1970 all Gentilucci’s music has been published by Ricordi, where the composer himself worked for many years as a consultant. 
In the field of book publishing two of his works have met with particular success: Guida all'ascolto della musica contemporanea (Feltrinelli, 1969) and Introduzione alla musica elettronica (Feltrinelli, 1972).

Gentilucci died in Milan in November 1989.

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