Born in Palermo in 1947, he started composing at the age of 12, and held his first public concert in 1962. He moved to Rome in 1969 and Milan in 1977; since 1983, he has lived in Città di Castello, Umbria. His contacts with composers such as Antonio Titone, Turi Belfiore, and Franco Evangelisti notwithstanding, he is self-taught as a composer, and has studied music predominantly by reading scores of modern and ancient composers. He became artistic director of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna at the age of 30 (1978–80).
His awards include the prestigious Premio Internazionale Feltrinelli (2003) and the newly created Salzburg Music Prize (2006). In 2006, Sciarrino’s new opera Da gelo a gelo, coproduced by Schwetzingen Festival, Opéra National de Paris, and Grand Théâtre de Genève, was performed to great acclaim. In 2008 La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra performed his 4 Adagi; 12 Madrigali were premiered in the summer of the same year within a monographic series dedicated to him by Salzburg Festival. His works are now performed throughout the world, and his discography includes over 70 CDs.
Salvatore Sciarrino is very active as a music teacher. He taught at the music academies of Milan (1974–83), Perugia (1983–87), and Florence (1987–96) as well as at numerous masterclasses. He retired in 1996, dedicating himself to music theory; his books include Le figure della musica, da Beethoven a oggi (1998) and Carte da suono, a collection of his writings from 1981–2001.
Sciarrino matured early, creating a distinctive personal style. He treats sound as a living organism; his music begins at the threshold of perception. The empty space breaths, creating a dramatic tension where even the smallest event fills the listener’s mind. Renewed perception is the objective of Sciarrino’s “ecology of sound.” He lets the listener rediscover the spaces of nature, everyday noises, and the miracle of the human voice. His work, inspired by modern philosophy and science, is often challengingly unorthodox: the notion of “psychoacoustic” music, often useful in defining music influenced by conceptualism, is insufficient to fully grasp the complex aesthetic experience of Sciarrino’s stage and concert compositions.
Selected works (since 2000): Il clima dopo Harry Partch for piano and orchestra (1999–2000), Studi per l’intonazione del mare for contralto, four flutes, four saxophones, percussion and orchestra of 100 flutes and 100 saxophones (2000), Due notturni crudeli for piano (2001), In nomine nominis for eight performers (2001), Macbeth, tre atti senza nome, opera to a libretto by the composer after Shakespeare (2001–2), Altre schegge di canto for clarinet and orchestra (2002), Cavatina e i gridi for string sextet (2002), Due smarrimenti for soprano and eight instruments (2003), Graffito sul mare for trio and orchestra (2003), String Sextet (2003), Quaderno di strada for baritone and instruments (2003), Lohengrin 2 for soloist, instrument and voices (1982– 2004), Scena di vento for instruments (2004), Il legno e la parola for marimba and bells (2004), Il suono e il tacere for orchestra (2004), Vento d’ombra for chamber ensemble (2005), Archeologia del telefono for 13 instruments (2005), Storie di altre storie for harmonium and orchestra (2005), Shadow of Sound for orchestra (2005), Da gelo a gelo, opera (2006), 4 Adagi for flute and orchestra (2007), 12 Madrigali for seven or eight singers (2007), String Quartet no. 8 (2008), La porta della legge – quasi un monologo circolare, opera in one act (2008), Il giardino di Sara for soprano and instruments (2008), L’altro giardino for voice and eight instruments (2009), Libro notturno delle voci for flute and orchestra (2009), Superflumina, opera in one act (2010), Fanofania for ensemble (2010), Cantiere del poema for soprano and ten instruments (2011), Senza sale d’aspetto for female presenter and orchestra (2011), Carnaval for voices, piano and ten performers (2011), L’ideale lucente e le pagine rubate for strings (2012), Ombre nel mattino di Piero (String Quartet no. 9, 2012), Perturbazione in arrivo nel settore trombe for horn and orchestra (2012), Giorno velato presso il lago nero for violin and orchestra (2013), Gesualdo senza parole for ensemble (2013), L’imprecisa macchina del tempo for choir and chamber orchestra (2013–14), L’esercizio della stravaganza for string quartet after Domenico Scarlatti (2014), Dialoghi sull’ultima corda for two cellos (2014), La nuova Euridice secondo Rilke for soprano and orchestra (2015), Diverbio fra mottetti, con due sogni for choir and saxophone quartet (2015), Sposalizio, transcription of Liszt’s work for orchestra (2015), Quando ci risvegliamo for orchestra (2015), Trovare un equilibrio è necessario? for flute and string quartet (2015), Autostrada prima di Babilonia for flute (2015).