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Ferruccio Busoni

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Ferruccio Busoni

Biography

Ferruccio Busoni (1 April 1866, Empoli, Italy – 27 July 1924, Berlin, Ger.) was an Italian composer, pianist, conductor, editor, writer, and teacher.

Busoni was born the son of professional musicians. Initially trained by his father, he later studied at the Vienna Conservatory and then with Wilhelm Mayer and Carl Reinecke. In the ensuing years, after brief periods teaching in Helsinki and Moscow, he devoted himself to composing, teaching, and touring as a virtuoso pianist in Europe and the United States. His writings on music were influential; they covered not only aesthetics but considerations of microtones and other innovative topics. He was based in Berlin from 1894 but spent much of World War I in Switzerland.

Busoni was an outstanding (if sometimes controversial) pianist from an early age. He began composing in his early years in a late romantic style, but after 1907, when he published his Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, he developed a more individual style, often with elements of atonality. His visits to America led to interest in North American indigenous tribal melodies which were reflected in some of his works. His compositions include works for piano, including a monumental Piano Concerto, and transcriptions of the works of others, notably Johann Sebastian Bach which appeared in the Bach-Busoni Edition. His other compositions include chamber music, vocal and orchestral works, and also operas, one of which, Doktor Faust, was left unfinished at the time of his death.

His international career and reputation meant that he met and had close relations with many of the leading musicians, artists and literary figures of his time, and he was sought-after both as a keyboard instructor and a teacher of composition.


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