Ferruccio Busoni, classical music composer

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Ferruccio Busoni


Ferruccio Busoni was born in Empoli, Italy on April 1, 1866, the only child of Ferdinando, a clarinetist, and Anna, a pianist. Growing up in such a musical environment, Busoni was a child prodigy, making his public debut on the piano at the age of seven. Within a short time, he performed some of his own compositions in Vienna, where he also met Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and Anton Rubinstein. After a brief period of study in Graz, Busoni studied with Carl Reinecke, a former pupil of both Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann, in Leipzig beginning in 1886.

After his study with Reinecke, Busoni held several teaching positions beginning in Helsinki in 1888, then Moscow in 1890 and the United States in 1891. In 1894, he returned to Europe and settled in Berlin, taking up an active role as a pianist, conductor, and supporter of contemporary music, as well as continuing to teach. With the outbreak of World War I, Busoni left Germany, refusing to perform in any country involved in the war. He first took up residence in Bologna, but later made his way to Zürich. He returned to Berlin in 1920 where he died on July 27, 1924.

As a composer, Busoni's music was generally contrapuntally complex and simultaneously looked towards the future and the past. He was a great admirer of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music he extensively edited. Busoni also transcribed several of the Leipzig composer's works for piano. Indeed, Busoni was so connected to the music of Bach, that his surname was often mistaken to be "Bach-Busoni," as it appears in many of his transcriptions, and on one occasion his wife was even introduced as such. Busoni also on occasion drew inspiration from past composers for his own work, such as Niccolò Paganini and Georges Bizet. Despite this fondness and awareness of the past, in 1907, Busoni outlined his viewpoints on the future of music in his Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, where he lamented the perceived rigidity of the music of the past, and postulated on the possibility of techniques that would later appear in the 20th century, such as microtonal music and electronic music.

Composer Title Date Action
Ferruccio Busoni Red Indian Diary 02/03/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ferruccio Busoni Sonatine No. 6 Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen 04/20/2009 Play Add to playlist