Marcello Panni


(24 January 1940 — )

Marcello Panni studied piano, composition and conducting at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in his native city, where he went on to do post-graduate work incomposition under Goffredo Petrassi. He also took Manuel Rosenthal’s advancedcourse in orchestral conducting at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris. His made his debut as a conductor in 1969 at the Biennale di Venezia with a concert dedicated to the music of Petrassi. Since then Panni has been leading a double career as composer and conductor.

Some of his first works as a composer were Prétextefor orchestra (Rome, 1964), Empedokles-Lied  (on a text by Hölderlin) for baritone and orchestra (Venice, 1965), Arpège for harp and percussion (Paris, 1967), D’Ailleurs for string quartet (London, 1967), Patience for chorus and orchestra (New York, 1968).

In 1971 he founded the Teatro-Musica Ensemble. He toured with this group throughout Europe, performing and recording works by Schnebel, Cage, Pennisi, Berio, Bussotti, Clementi, Donatoni, Feldman. At the Piccola Scala of Milan he staged Klangfarbenspiel, a musical pantomime, in collaboration with Piero Dorazio and Mario Ricci (1972). In 1976, at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, he did La Partenza dell’Argonauta (based on a story by Savinio), in collaboration with Memè Perlini and Antonello Aglioti.

Since the end of the seventies he has been a regular guest of Italy’s major musical institutionsand of some of the world’s most important opera houses, such as the Opéra de Paris, the Metropolitan of New York, the Bolshoi of Moscow and the Staatsoper of Vienna. He conducted the world premieres of Neither by Morton Feldman at the Opera di Roma (1976), of Cristallo di Rocca by Silvano Bussotti at Milan’s La Scala (1983) and of Civil Wars by Philip Glass at the Opera di Roma(1984). From 1980 to 1984 he taught composition at Mills Collegein Oakland, California, where he held the prestigious Milhaud Chair.

Among his more recent compositions are: Trenodia, for viola and 11 strings (Rome, 1991); Missa Brevis, for children’s chorus, wind instruments and percussion (Nice, 2000); and Sinfonietta, for chamber orchestra (Milan, 2001). Panni has composed various lyric operas: Hanjo (1994) based on a modern Nō drama by Yukio Mishima, with Bob Wilson as stage director, on a commission from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Il Giudizio di Paride, set to his own libretto inspired by the Dialogues of Lucian of Samosata, written for the Bonn Opera (1996); The Banquet (Talking about Love), libretto by Kenneth Koch, commissioned by the Breman Opera (1998), repeated in 2001-2002 at Roma, Genoa and Florence. In April 2005 his Garibaldi en Sicile (libretto by Kenneth Koch and based on Les Garibaldiens by Alexandre Dumas père) premiered at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples, which also commissioned the work. From 2003 he is a member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.