Francesco Pennisi


(11 February 1934 — 09 October 2000)

Francesco Pennisi was born in Acireale, in Sicily, into an ancient,noble and art­loving family. Pennisi painted and made music from his earliestyouth. Even after his vocation for composing had become definitive, hecontinued to paint and, above all, to draw, without however introducing “graphic”elements into his scores.

In 1953, after completing the secondary school,he moved to Rome,where he went to university and began studying composing with the Americanmusician Robert Mann. In 1962, he made his début at the “Giornate della nuovamusica” in Palermo with a work entitled L’animae i prestigi for contralto, trombones and percussion, and immediately afterhe became one of the principal promoters of the “Nuova Consonanza” Association,founded in Rome with the aim of promoting the performance and understanding of inter­nationalcontemporary music.

Year after year, the Sicilian composer’s workshave been performed with increasing fre­quency in numerous musical centres andfestivals in Italy andabroad (Festival of Royan, Hilversum, VeniceBiennale, Bresciaand Bergamo Piano Festival, etc.).

After living through and following with acertain subtle detachment the experiences of the European and American Avantgardein the fifties and sixties, Pennisi has developed a refined and personal style,in which various stylistic tendencies can be seen to blend: the fluid sound ofDebussy and the parsimony of Webern; a number of Ives’ (and even, marginally,Cage’s) phonic and formal “gestures”, and the “controlled freedom” whichcharacterizes the most recent of Petrassi’s work, with its hidden geometry.

Mario Messinis has written:

Francesco Pennisicontinues along a solitary and silent path that evades superficialclassification […]. Where can one place this Sicilian who elaborates hismaterial like a goldsmith and contains it within orderly structures which are nonethelessalways open to the irrational? […] This artist constructs neat miniatu­res,that appear closed in upon themselves, but which then come alive with illusoryreflections, like half-moving mirrors that annul, from one moment to the nexl,a reality which Is only appare ntly defined (...)... the world of Pennisi is inaccessibleand delica­tely sphinx-like […], airy pages that hover in the emptiness.

The composer died in Rome on October 2000.

His works are published by Casa Ricordi, SuviniZerboni and Edipan.