Comments on the “Prometeo” Score by Luigi Nono

André Richard, Villars-le-Grand, Switzerland

From the end of the 1970s Luigi Nono’s compositional work focused on the music theatrical work Prometeo that was performed for the first time in Venice on 9/25/1984 to worldwide acclaim. A year later a second version was performed in Milan. This consisted of newly composed, drastic revisions to the first version which went on to form the basis for all further performances, initially conducted by the composer himself. Of fundamental importance for Prometeo, alongside the singers and instrumentalists involved, is the live electronics from the SWR Experimentalstudio of the day. All those sounds produced live and laid down in the score are supplemented, transformed and conveyed within the space by means of live electronics. However, the score itself contains only sparse instructions for these live electronics which were largely elaborated, in fact actually composed, by the composer himself during the long rehearsals for the premiere.

Since the composer's death André Richard (Head of the Experimentalstudio from 1989 to 2005) has been responsible for the live electronics and for ensuring the composer’s intentions are meticulously followed in Prometeo. This special performance practice also contains the specific vocal and instrumental playing styles of performers recognized to be closely associated with Nono’s works.

In an edition supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation a text is now to be elaborated by André Richard that will make it possible for future performances of Prometeo to follow Luigi Nono’s intentions and his central Tragedia dell’ascolto, even if participating performers have no longer been available since the premiere of this work. Furthermore, the book publication of the research project is to be supplemented by a revised score of Prometeo – actually within the notation itself – which will then feature the indispensable additions for live electronics in digital form. The project will be accompanied in musicological terms by Prof. Dr. Jürg Stenzl (Salzburg) and Dr. Carola Nielinger-Vakil (London).

January 2014 – November 2015
Villars-le-Grand, Switzerland 

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