Iannis Xenakis

1922 (Brăila, Romania) – 2001 (Paris)

Xenakis was a major composer of the later 20th century, with a noted feel for structure and for mathematically-informed composition. Neither Milhaud nor Honegger appreciated his talents; Boulanger declined to take him on, but pointed him towards Messiaën, who saw where his uniqueness lay (Stockhausen was a fellow-pupil). Working for Corbusier, he defended Varèse in his collaboration with the architect (in fact largely designed by Xenakis). He worked in Schaeffer’s electronic studios, was invited by Copland to teach at Tanglewood, and joined Rostropovich’s jury. Corbusier and he enjoyed shocking diners by removing their glass eyes. Boulez hated him.

Iannis Xenakis knew…