Arthur Lourié: composing music as if it was a canvas

In one of our former posts, we reflected on Sylvano Bussotti’s scores and on his habit, of tracing them as he would do in front of a canvas: so that in many cases the border between the musical and the pictorial page is blurred or even removed. Reading his music often means browsing the page in various directions, following the paths, traced by dotted lines, arrows and pointers of other sorts; and seldom we can sink into the relaxing safety of left-to-right, top-down reading.

This possibility, of writing music in a spatially different way, was widely taken advantage of during the twentieth century, although without reaching Bussotti’s radicalism. But how far in time should we go back, in search of a pathfinder who first dreamed of “painting”, instead of writing music? A good reference point is Arthur Vincent Lourié (1892-1966), a Russian composer who, a few years after the Revolution, settled in France and then in New York. In his young years he was in close relationship with the poets Vladimir Majakovskij, Anna Achmatova and Aleksandr Blok; and then he was among the subscribers of the Futurist Manifesto in Russia, forestalling Marinetti who went there for promoting the Italian novelty, and found a group of Russian artists and scholars forcefully determined to claim their novelty…
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You can listen to Arthur Lourié’s Formes en l’air (à Pablo Picasso), performed by Alfonso Alberti inside the concert:

Alfonso Alberti – Piano Music and Visual Arts – 1
go to the concert


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