Bruno Maderna

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Bruno Maderna (born April 21, 1920 in Venice ; † November 13, 1973 in Darmstadt ; born as Bruno Grossato ; later adopted the maiden name of his mother Maderna ) was an Italian composer , conductor and music teacher.


As the illegitimate son of the popular musician Umberto Grossato and Carolina Madernas, Maderna received violin lessons at an early age and, as a kind of child prodigy on this instrument, was the attraction in his father's ensemble. At the age of seven he was already conducting various opera orchestras in northern Italy. He studied composition first in Milan with Arrigo Pedrollo and then at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome with Alessandro Bustini. He completed his studies there in 1940 with a diploma. In 1941 he became a student of conducting with Antonio Guarnieri at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena , in 1942 and 1943 he studied composition with Gian Francesco Malipiero at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice, after which he was drafted into the Italian army for military service and fought as a Soldier in World War II. Towards the end of the war, he joined anti-fascist partisans and was briefly captured by Germany.

In 1947 he accepted a call from Malipiero as a lecturer at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello , where he and his friend and student Luigi Nono took part in a conducting course with Hermann Scherchen in 1948 , who also introduced him to the musical analysis and twelve-tone music of the Second Viennese School . Following Scheren's suggestion, he attended the Darmstadt Summer Course for New Music for the first time in 1949 . His international conducting career began in 1950 with performances in Paris and, at the invitation of Karl Amadeus Hartmann , in Munich. In 1955 (1954 according to other sources) he founded the Studio di Fonologia Musicale for electronic music for the RAI in Milan together with Luciano Berio . There he organized a series of events with the Incontri musicali between 1956 and 1960 aimed at spreading knowledge of contemporary music, and held courses on the technique of serial composition at the Milan Conservatory in 1957 and 1958 . After 1956 he took part regularly as a lecturer and conductor in the Darmstadt Summer Courses , founded his International Chamber Ensemble there in 1961 and directed it together with Pierre Boulez until its dissolution in 1967 . In 1963 he took up residence in Darmstadt. In 1971 he was appointed chief conductor of the RAI Symphony Orchestra in Milan.

In the last decade of his life, the reputation of the internationally successful conductor Maderna exceeded that of the composer in the public eye; He has led major orchestras in Europe and has made guest appearances in Tokyo (1961) and Buenos Aires ( 1964 ). At the beginning of the 1970s, he increasingly conducted in the USA . He taught at the Dartington Summer School in England from 1960 to 1962 , and from 1967 at the Rotterdam Conservatory . He held conducting courses at the Mozarteum Salzburg between 1967 and 1969 and in Darmstadt in 1969. In 1971/72 he was director of the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood . In 1972 he was awarded the Prix ​​italia for his radio composition Ages .

Maderna died on November 13, 1973 of lung cancer . He is buried in the old cemetery in Darmstadt (grave site: IE 41).


Maderna was a representative of the musical avant-garde after the Second World War . After neoclassical beginnings in the 1940s, he turned to serial music in the late 1940s under the influence of Scherchen, whom he regarded as his actual teacher alongside Malipiero. He subsequently broke up its strict structure with a form of aleatoric that was specific to him , thereby breaking through the determinism of serial composing in the direction of an “open work of art”.

In his Musica su due dimensioni from 1952, traditional acoustic instruments are used for the first time together with electronic sounds in one work.

In 1974, one year after his death, he was awarded the Beethoven Prize.


  • Concerto 1942 per pianoforte e orchestra - piano concerto (1942), also in a version for two pianos (1946)
  • Quartetto per archi - string quartet (c. 1946)
  • Requiem for solos, choir and orchestra (1946)
  • Serenata for 11 instruments (1946, revised version 1954)
  • Introduzione e Passacaglia "Lauda Sion Salvatorem" for orchestra (1947)
  • Concerto for two pianos and 9 players (1948)
  • Liriche su Verlaine (1948)
  • Tre liriche greche - 3 Greek songs for piccolo , soprano and instruments (1948), texts: Ibykos, Melanippides, Anonymus.
  • Composizione n.1 - Composition No. 1 for orchestra (1948–49)
  • Fantasia e fuga (BACH Variations) for two pianos (1949)
  • Il mio cuore è nel sud. Ballata radioifonica - City in the South, radio play based on a text by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (1949)
  • Composizione n.2 - Composition No. 2 for orchestra (1950)
  • Studi per "Il Processo" di Franz Kafka - Studies on Kafka's Der Proceß for speaker, soprano and large orchestra (1950)
  • Improvvisazione n.1 - Improvisation No. 1 for orchestra (1951–52)
  • Musica su due dimensioni for flute, percussion and tape (1952, version without percussion 1958)
  • Four letters. Kranichsteiner Kammer cantata for soprano, bass and chamber orchestra (1953), texts: Bruno Frittaion, Franz Kafka, Antonio Gramsci, Anonymus.
  • Improvvisazione n.2 - Improvisation No. 2 for orchestra (1953)
  • Divertimento in due tempi for flute and piano (1954)
  • Sequenze e strutture, electronic composition (1954)
  • Ritratto di città. Studio per una rappresentatizione radiofonica , electronic compositions (1954), text: Roberto Leydi
  • Flute Concerto (1954)
  • Composizione in tre tempi - Composition in three movements for orchestra (1954)
  • Quartetto per archi in due tempi , string quartet (1955)
  • Serenata II for 11 instruments (1956, new version of Serenata. Composition No. 3 from 1954)
  • Notturno electronic composition (1956)
  • Syntaxis electronic composition (1957)
  • Divertimento: 1st Dark Rapture Crawl for orchestra (1957, together with Luciano Berio , Maderna wrote the first of the three movements)
  • Continuo , electronic composition (1957)
  • Amor di violino. Radiocommedia , radio play (1959), text: Ermanno Carsana.
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (1959)
  • Dimensioni II. Invenzione su una voce - Invention of a voice for tape (1959-60) based on a phonetic text by Hans G Helms (becomes part of Hyperion )
  • Macbeth , radio play (1960), text: Shakespeare / Salvatore Quasimodo.
  • Serenata III for tape (1961)
  • Serenata IV for flute, instruments and tape (1961)
  • Honeyrêves for flute and piano (1961)
  • Concerto for oboe and chamber ensemble (= oboe concerto No. 1, 1962)
  • Don Perlimplin ovvero Il trionfo dell 'amore e dell' immaginazione. Ballata amorosa , radio opera based on the drama of the same name by Federico García Lorca , translated by Vittorio Bodini (1962)
  • Le rire for tape (1962)
  • Per Caterina (1963) for violin and piano
  • Dimension III for orchestra with a cadenza for solo flute (1963-65)
  • Aria for soprano, solo flute and orchestra based on texts by Friedrich Hölderlin (1964)
  • Dimensioni IV for flute and chamber ensemble (1964)
  • Hyperion. Lirica in forma di spettacolo - poetry in the form of a play based on texts by Hans G Helms and Friedrich Hölderlin (1964)
  • Stele per Diotima for orchestra (1965)
  • Aulodia per Lothar for oboe d'amore and guitar ad libitum (1965)
  • Amanda for chamber orchestra (1966)
  • Cadenza (from Amanda) for violin and string trio (1966)
  • Dedication for violin solo (1967)
  • Oboe Concerto No. 2 (1967)
  • Hyperion en het Geweld (1968)
  • Orchestral suite from the opera Hyperion (1969)
  • Quadrivium for 4 percussionists and 4 orchestral groups (1969)
  • From A to Z . Music for a television opera (1969)
  • Ritratto di Erasmo . Radiodrama (1969)
  • Violin Concerto (1969)
  • Serenata per un satellite (1969)
  • Grande aulodia for flute, oboe and orchestra (1970)
  • Tempo libero for tape (1971/72)
  • Juilliard Serenade (Tempo libero II) for orchestra and tape (1971)
  • Viola for viola (1971)
  • Y después for guitar (1971)
  • Dialodia for two violins (1971)
  • Solo for musette , oboe, oboe d'amore and cor anglais (1971)
  • Pièce pour Ivry for violin (1971)
  • Broadcast for female voice, flute, oboe, large orchestra and tape (1971)
  • Dialodia for two flutes, two oboes and other instruments (1972)
  • Venetian Journal for tenor, instrumental ensemble and tape based on texts by James Boswell (1972)
  • Aura for orchestra (1972)
  • Biogramma for large orchestra (1972)
  • Giardino religioso for small orchestra (1972)
  • Serenade for Tini for violin and viola (1972)
  • Venetian Journal for tenor, orchestra and tape based on texts by James Boswell (1972)
  • Ages , Invenzione radiofonica for voices, choir and orchestra based on William Shakespeare (1973)
  • Satyricon . Opera in one act after Petronius (1973)
  • Oboe Concerto No. 3 (1973)


A total of 33 arrangements from Josquin to Kurt Weill, mostly for ensemble or chamber orchestra. Including:


  • Massimo Mila, Rossana Dalmonte: Maderna, musicista Europeo . Einaudi, Torino 1976 (Italian, 126 pages).
  • Mario Baroni, Rossana Dalmonte: Studi su Bruno Maderna . Zerboni, Milano 1989 (Italian, 275 pages).
  • Raymond Fearn: Bruno Maderna . Harwood Academic Publishers, Chur 1990, ISBN 3-7186-5011-8 (English, 367 pages).
  • René Karlen (Ed.): Bruno Maderna. Music manuscripts . Amadeus, Winterthur 1990 (44 pages).
  • Bruno Maderna, Wolfgang Steinecke: Carteggio correspondence . Ed .: Rossana Dalmonte. Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca 2001, ISBN 88-7096-283-0 (226 pages).
  • Markus Fein: The musical poetics of Bruno Madernas. For “serial” composing between 1951 and 1955 . Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2001, ISBN 978-3-631-38350-6 (310 pages).
  • Joachim Noller: Bruno Maderna . In: Hanns-Werner Heister , Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer (ed.): Contemporary composers . tape 25 , 2003, ISBN 978-3-86916-791-6 ( [accessed on January 9, 2020] subsequent delivery).
  • Nicola Verzina: Bruno Maderna. Étude historique et critique . L'Harmattan, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-7475-4409-5 (French, 470 pages).
  • Rossana Dalmonte, Marco Russo (Ed.): Bruno Maderna. Study e testimonianze . Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca 2004, ISBN 88-7096-375-6 (Italian, 492 pages).
  • Gianluigi Mattietti:  Maderna, Bruno. In: Mario Caravale (ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 67:  Macchi – Malaspina. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2006.

Individual evidence

  1. Bruno Maderna's grave

Web links