Iannis Xenakis



Music, mathematics, and architecture coincide in the biography of Iannis Xenakis, the composer and engineer of Greek origin who collaborated with Le Corbusier – whom he met in 1948 on his arrival in Paris as a political refugee – in works like the Philips Pavilion in Brussels, La Tourette, or the Unités d’Habitation of Marseille and Nantes. His obsession with applying an abstract paradigm to different creative areas is summed up in the lined figures present both in the Philips Pavilion (1958), a hyperbolical paraboloid proposed as ‘packaging’ for an electronic poem by Edgar Varèse, and in the score of Metástasis (1953-1954), a diagram of lines representing the tones of the instruments in warped surfaces of glissandi. He created ‘stochastic music’ – a computer language based on the independence of sounds and probability systems, and works like the Polytopo installation and the composition Phitoprakta advance the notion of transferring knowledge from one field to another. Author of Musiques Formelles (1963), one of the most influential texts of 20th-century musical theory, Xenakis died in Paris at 78, after a long illness.

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