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Perspectives on Sylvano Bussotti (Call for papers, Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen, 29 Settembre-1 Ottobre, 2021)

International Conference on the Occasion of Sylvano Bussotti’s 90th Birthday

In the 1950s, with his graphic scores, the composer Sylvano Bussotti (*1931) was significantly involved in the critical deconstruction of standardised notation. During the Darmstadt Summer Courses of 1958– 61, he shocked his peer composers not least with his open homosexuality. With the ‘mystère de chambre’ La Passion selon Sade (1965), he presented a work that was characterised to a previously unknown extent by an erotic physicality. And in the decades to come, within the exceptional personal union of composer, director, actor, stage and costume designer, he consistently explored the boundaries between different genres (music theatre, ballet, instrumental music) and medially differentiated art forms (e.g. between music and visual art).

Yet, in the research discourses on 20th-century music and music theatre, Bussotti’s oeuvre has a very limited presence; a detailed study of the majority of his works is still pending, and the hitherto available archival material has been examined only partially. These diagnoses are in striking disproportion to the historical importance of the Italian composer. The envisaged conference responds to this desideratum and takes the composer’s 90th birthday as an opportunity to bundle recent approaches and break new ground in research on Bussotti, and to stimulate a broader debate on his oeuvre and aesthetics. We also hope that the conference’s output will foster an increased practical engagement with Bussotti’s rarely performed pieces.

Furthermore, a focused view and collaborative reflection on the composer’s in many respects extraordinary artistic work promises new insights and impulses for current interdisciplinary debates, especially in the research on writing, gender, intermediality and gestures. We encourage papers from a range of disciplines including musicology, performance practice, theatre and linguistic studies, philosophy, media aesthetics, philology or cultural studies.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bussotti’s procedures of musical writing and drawing; his deliberately ambivalent forms of notation (as a productive challenge for current approaches to the theory of writing)
  • body images in Bussotti’s oeuvre as visualisation and negotiation of gender identity
  • Bussotti’s compositional use of language and texts; Bussotti as a lied composer
  • interpretation and contextualisation of previously unknown archival material on Bussotti and his artistic output
  • analytical considerations on selected (and less known) pieces by Bussotti
  • Bussotti’s musico-theatrical work between bel canto and new music theatre
  • How can we theoretically grasp the inherent physicality and gestural character of Bussotti’s compositions?
  • collage as a form concept and mode of expression
  • the role of Bussotti’s music in private space, in conjunction with the continuity of the tradition of décadence
  • Bussotti in his works
  • performance history and practice of Bussotti’s oeuvre
  • Bussotti in his historical and cultural context
  • Bussotti as a poet, director, actor, stage and costume designer

    The conference language is English.
    Presentation format:
    individual 30-minute paper (followed by 15-minute discussion)

    Abstracts of 250–300 words should be sent as an attachment (pdf, docx) to julia.freund[at]musik.uni- giessen.de and federica.marsico[at]unive.it by 15 October 2020, and must include the following information: title, author, affiliation, email address, short biography (max 150 words), and technical requirements.

    Decisions on the acceptance of abstracts are expected to be communicated by 15 November 2020. Attendance of the meeting will be free of charge. We are striving to cover the accommodation and travel expenses.

    Organisation and scientific committee: Julia Freund (JLU, Gießen), Federica Marsico (Ca’ Foscari, Venice), Matteo Nanni (JLU, Gießen)

    Conference website: https://bussotti2021.wordpress.com

    We are aware of the current uncertainties with regard to public events and international travel. We will monitor the situation carefully, and in the case that delegates will be unable to travel next year, we shall make the necessary arrangements for a virtual delivery of the conference.