Biographical Bits (2003 – 2015)

We live in a block of flats on the third floor but my studio with my piano,

books and Macintosh is on the ground floor facing a garden which is rare in

Milan. He reads my emails and sends them down to me but sometimes I read

them upstairs and send down only the interesting ones I want to keep or I

write emails directly on his computer. This sometimes creates a little confusion.

We have no children because I love composing too much and I

want to dedicate my life to Music, which also includes teaching. My

parents are old and they often need a lot of attention so I’m not always

free to do what I want nowadays. At the moment I am dedicating a lot of time

to self-promotion, writing a lot of emails to public radios in the States,

eight of which have recently broadcast quite a number of works. The

Altenburg Gera Theatre in Germany has just written to say that they will

perform Adagio for string orchestra three times in May 2004. This is the

first concert that derives from the sale of the CDs. As soon as I have

finished with these emails I will begin the first movement of my Second

Symphony (I have already finished the second and third) and after I have

composed the fourth I will have to orchestrate them. The quantity of work I

should do is enormous. I should also revise the orchestration of my First

Symphony, written in 1988-1990, and correct some old scores. I do not have a

publisher that could help me and I feel helpless. Sometimes, I even secretly

hope that no commission will come for at least a couple of years because I

wouldn’t be able to cope with it. Furthermore, I’m a slow composer and all

these thoughts give me anguish.

I have to get back to composing the first movement of my Second Symphony.

This means tomorrow morning since today I have to teach at the

Conservatorio. Wish me luck because I haven’t got the faintest idea how to

start. I shall just have to put my hands on the piano and then…go! if I’m

lucky, otherwise I might have to stare at the blank page for a couple of

days or so, which is very frustrating. Anyhow, I’m quite used to staring. I

think I do more of that than actually writing the music down. In the end, it

doesn’t worry me so much because staring for me means composing too.

It gives me great joy to instill a love for music in all the people I meet, in particular

my pupils. I love teaching and for me, it is the only medicine that is capable of

curing momentary depression. I just forget everything when I teach, just as when

I am in a good composing mood.

I met my husband when students in the same composition class in October

1976. We were always friends going out to look at record shops (Ricordi) and

the cinema but we only got together in 1988. I only consented to marry him

in 1997. I was a little proud and somewhat afraid of losing my freedom but

love and insistent pleading won.

Under certain aspects, I am a very elastic musician, so it doesn’t absolutely

bother me to hear Turandot with an English accent as it doesn’t bother me to

hear a pianist like Rubinstein play a series of wrong notes or a record which

isn’t DDD. It’s the quality of the music and the musical phrasing that count

for me.

Praise in these times comes to me as light in darkness after so many years

of solitude and ostracism on the part of the local Avante-garde.

And as the last thing, may I add that I compose at the piano in an

old-fashioned way like all the 19th-century composers did (also with bouts

of so-called exciting inspiration). My works for orchestra are written on 4,

5 or 6 staves, as necessary. When a movement is finished, I orchestrate it at

the computer using a mute keyboard. I pride myself that I have a good ear

and that I need nothing else. When I recorded the 2 CDs with the National

Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, I hardly did any corrections on the scores

and parts; only a few little things due to forgetfulness. When I compose I

improvise a lot at the piano. At a certain point, I know how the work will

end and sometimes what I will do in certain sections: not the exact notes

but the musical intent. When the work is finished, it is definitely

finished and I find that I never have to rewrite sections or even change

minor parts of the music. However, when I heard my works performed for the

first time by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, it was such a

wonderful and uplifting experience that I will never forget it. That moment

I felt I had been rewarded for all the difficulties I had had in affirming

myself as a composer and as a teacher; as a full Musician. It’s

not that I heard unexpected sounds or unexpected parts of music but it

simply completed the previous experience I had had in composing the works. I

have no suitable paragons but it was like adding lustre to an opaque but

exquisite object, adding whipped cream to an excellent cake, adding lipstick

to an already beautiful woman. Silly paragons but I’m sure that though

Bruckner did not need to hear his last Symphonies, he would have simply been

overwhelmed by them and his heart would have glowed.

The dissonances that you mention are intended on my part (the orchestra was

very good, in tune, and emotionally involved – the conductor was most

professional). For a certain period in my life, I experimented with the

superimposition of, for example, D, D#, and/or Db at a distance of an octave.

However, there are one or two points in Requiescat where I left the

dissonances at a distance of a semitone (sounds rather off-tune!), even

after having revised it last year and having thought about it carefully.

Maybe my ear is/was conditioned by my harmonical procedure. However, one

will notice that there is nothing of this in later works, though in

Messidor, to avoid a far too simple and boring ending, I added a dissonant

Trombone which sounds off-tune but still fits in with the concept of a

pastoral scene. Be assured that everything you hear is exactly as I want it

and I take full responsibility for my musical choices. I think, however, that

it will take much longer than a first or second hearing for the public to

fully understand what I’m trying to say in my music.

Reply to a lettter:

Of course, there is some dissonance everywhere in my music! Let me explain

musical procedures in more detail. I like superimposing traditional chords,

usually bichords or trichords (somewhat Strawinskian). Furthermore, my

baseline alternates from the traditional sort which touches the tonic, dominant,

etc. to a baseline that is totally independent of the chords above it. I also

compose with the reverse process but these are only techniques/procedures of

Composition. They are a means, not an end. Above all, I think about creating a

musical idea, emotion, or atmosphere, and the inspiration to create it comes by

itself. One of the greatest faults of most of the composers of the second half of

the 20th century was that they gave too much (or even exclusively) importance

to techniques and far too little (if none) to the Music itself. So, I can

assure you my music shall always have plenty of dissonance in it but that it

will be derived exclusively from the musical idea.

As regards Poulenc, I cannot say that he is foremost in my thoughts. If I

were to mention some composers that I love there would be Prokofiev,

Strawinsky, Ravel, Schostakovich, Strauss in the 20th century and Brahms and

Bruckner before them, but my list would be never-ending because I love

all music and I don’t have any particular “hates”. However, I do not love

Avante-garde music and other Atonal music created in the second half of the

20th century.

Many times we lose faith in life with its countless difficulties, with

our own art and the artistic/commercial world. The comparison with

the greatest and most unreachable composers who continue to give us so much

joy and are so fulfilling is hard to accept. However, in recent years it has

consoled me a great deal to hear so much bad contemporary music and this

has given me more confidence and faith in myself.

I went to the International School of Milan (before the Conservatorio) and I

took 6 O’ levels and 3 A’ levels. However, my English has become worse in

the past 30 years, though my Italian (then studied as a foreign language)

has greatly improved. I come to London and Maidenhead to visit my relatives

and friends at least twice a year. Recently, with Buzz, GO and now with EasyJet,

I have come three or four times a year.

I have recently realized that I have some kind of visual memory in the Visual Arts,

similar to the Art of Music. Strong and essential visions that derive from a great

emotional and spiritual impact that I perceive through the fusion of the Subject/Content,

which is the Drawing/Drawings and the Colours, within the Form. These correspond

in Music to the same sort of Idea/Content, which is the Theme/Themes (consisting of

the fusion of rhythm, harmony, and counterpoint) and of the Orchestration

(the Colours) within the Form.

April 2015

My father taught me to look at Greek Art, as opposed to Roman Art, Renaissance Art as

opposed to other contemporary manifestations such as Islamic or Oriental Art. He also

taught me to draw lines as to what was “Classical” music and what was “lighter” (Jazz

etc.) and definitely “light” music, i.e., popular (Pop) non-Classical music. He was an

“Absolutist”.

However, my husband taught me to appreciate what was good music whatever the style,

the epoch, whether “Classical” or “Pop”. I did this naturally when young and was a great

fan of the Beatles, by far more than the Rolling Stones because I thought the quality of

the music was better, and I did not need to be older and more educated to understand

this intuitively.  However, I hated the Italian soppy, melodramatic “light” songs and did not

like Opera till time taught me to distinguish which were the better parts. As I grew up, I

understood the difference in intent of Eine Kleine Nacht Musik and Don Giovanni, The

Nutcracker and Tchaikowsky’s Symphonies, Midsummer’s Night Dream, and

Mendelssohn’s Symphonies. The quality is the same but neither Bach, Beethoven nor

Brahms composed music with these ambivalences because of the same basic reason

why they never wrote an Opera. They are free from Symphonic Thought and Classical

Form.