Luigi Nono: Como una ola de fuerza y luz

" I knew Luciano Cruz, the leader, beloved by the people, of the Chilean M.I.R. (movement of the revolutionary left), in Santiago in the summer of 1971. His forceful intelligence and extraordinary Marzist capacity as a fighter for Chilean liberty aroused in me an immediate admiring friendship for him. In September 1971 I unexpectedly received the news of his strange accidental death, at the age of only 27. It is the motivation of this music of mine."
-Luigi Nono

Luigi Nono (1924 - 1990)
Luigi Nono was born in the city in which he would spend much of his life, Venice, in 1924. As a young composer he was involved with many of the new trends of music developing from the serial ideas espoused at the Darmstadt new music courses of the 1950s. As his mentor he took the fathers of the second Viennese school, Schoenberg and Webern. After his marriage to Schoenberg's daughter Nuria, he was literally be able to call Schoenberg his father.
Hand in hand with his espousal of the latest technical advances in compositional structuring, Nono espoused politcal messages in his music. An avowed Marxist and leading member of the Italian communist party, Nono saw his political ideas and his musical ideas as intimately related. He wrote in 1969, "I realized that it was no difference whether I was writing a score or helping to organize a strike. They are just two sides of the same coin."
To this end, Nono's music has an important political dimension. One finds references to the Algerian revolution, Auschwitz and politcal upheaval in Vietnam, Cuba and South America throughout his work. For his texts he chose the writings of Lorca, Pavese, Ungaretti and Machado and became increasingly reliant on the voice, which he saw as an ultimate expression of humanity, often in conjunction with the latest technical advances in electronic sound processing.For Nono, the composer needed to be involved in life, needed to study history, gather experience, and be abreast of the latest advances in science, technology and art in order to more fully be an active participant in society.
Nono also pioneered new ways of listening to music. From the quietest sounds, to microtonal and one-note music, to new possibilities of spatializing a sound, Nono was constantly seeking a way for the listener to participate in the experience of the sound. Similarly, Nono worked in close collaboration with a few select musicians to develop new techniques and ideas in order to force them to think of sound in a different way.
Toward the end of his life, Nono began a series of works centering on the performer/listener/composer as a traveller in time, space and sound. In these works he was often inspired by an anonymous phrase found stenciled on the wall of a monastery in Toledo, Spain. It read: "Caminantes, no hay caminos. Hay que caminar." The phrase has been rendered numerous ways, owing to the ambiguity of the word Camino and caminantes in medieval spanish. One translation might be: "Travellers, there are no paths. We must travel on."
In 1970 Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile becoming the first democratically elected Marxist to lead a nation in the Western Hemisphere, something that the Nixon administration was particularly unhappy about. After suggesting a coup to keep the Allende adminstration out, the American administration began a plan to "make the [Chilean] economy scream." In his first year in office, Allende nationalized Chile's copper mines and began economic and industrial reforms. Allende's rule would continue until 1973 when he was ousted by a military coup led by General Pinochet.
In September 1971, word reached Nono of the death of Luciano Cruz, a major player in Chile's revolutionary left movement. Of Cruz, Nono wrote: "I had got to know him that June in Santiago as a man of great intelligence, which had led to a friendship based on solidarity. It was his presence and yet physical absence that determined the choice of sound structure and caused us to ask why." For Como una ola de fuerza y luz (Like a wave of strength and light), Nono chose to incorporate a poem by Cruz's friend, the poet Julio Huasi, lamenting and celebrating Cruz. To a setting of this poem were added an electronic part that transformed sounds made by human voices and the piano of Maurizio Pollini, a longtime collabrator of Nono's.

en los vientos azarósos
de esta tierra
joven como la revolucion
en cada carga de tu pueblo
siempre vivo
y cercano
como el dolor de tu partida.

como una, Luciano!, ola
de fuerza
joven como la revolucion
siempre vivo
y seguirás flameando
para vivir.

voces de niños
campanas dulces
tu juventud.

Julio Huasi
in the hazardous winds
of this land
you will follow
young as the revolution
in each burden of your nation
always alive
and as close
as the pain of your passing.

like, Luciano!, a wave
of strength
young like the revolution
always alive
and following flaming
for living.

voices of children
sweet bells
your youth.

Luciano Cruz

Listening Chart
0:00 Micropolyphonic cluster chords in orchestra.
2:30 Soprano with Tape (also soprano): Vocalizations and cries of "Luciano!"
4:15 Soprano with Tape: Alternation between singing and speaking
6:30 Piano enters with tape (also piano) with orchestral outbursts and amplifications reflecting sonorities presented by piano. Piano begins in lowest register and explores the lowest register.
10:55 Entry of Contrabasses and winds
12:05 Piano and tape solo in lowest registers rising higher in clusters of pitches.
13:20 Soprano enters with more lyrical section accompanied by tape and piano
14:00 Piano drops out leaving soprano alone accompanied by tape of herself (ghost) singing the "Luciano!" cries of before among other things. Sopranoe exits, tape continues.
15:30 Brass take up clusters of pitches in their lowest register.
17:10 Solo strings interject cluster chords with harp and clarinets. Piano enters followed by most of orchestras in chords.
19:20 Bass drum hits bring in chords that begin to ascend in pitch.
20:10 More ascending clusters edging higher and higher each time and accompanied by tape (featuring rumbling of the piano)
24:00 Reaching the limits of audibility. Frequency range is saturated. Frequency beatd are audible in lowest range (your speakers) and difference tones in the highest range (your ears)
25:40 Series of short cries from the orchestra. Chomatic cluster chords. Saturation of tonal space.
28:08 Tape solo (based on material heard before) until end. Sound is like that of a chorus or of the ululations of Algerian women.

Structural Chart
Introduction with Soprano solo
Piano solo with orchestral interruptions
Interlude: Piano, Soprano, Tape
Saturation of audible space
Cluster chords

All text © Todd Tarantino 2002-2012.
Not to be reprinted without permission.