In 1999, while working at Centro Tempo Reale in Florence, I was invited to write the music for a radio broadcast in sixty one-hour episodes, Novecento. The programme, dealing with social, cultural and artistic life in the 20th century, was intended as a kind of long goodbye to the dying century.
Novecento is an entirely electroacoustic collection of short pieces. The whole collection is built using as raw material fragments taken from the works of some of the musical icons of the century, from Ligeti to Lutoslawski, from Boulez to Nono, and mixing them with original material composed for a sort of underwater, end-of-the-world piano. No synthesis is used at any time. Since the original sounds are both taken out of context and redesigned, they are barely recognisable, but the halo of their previous meaning still hovers about, and gives the whole collection the eerie, ghost-like quality that I wanted.
Commissioned by RAI RadioTre, Novecento marks the beginning of the collaboration between RAI, the Italian National Television Network, and Centro Tempo Reale – the Florence-based centre founded and directed by Luciano Berio for music production, education and research with new technologies. In 1999 RAI joined Regione Toscana and the City of Florence as the third official funding body of Tempo Reale.