Luigi Nono was born in 1924 in Venice, Italy. He studied law at Padua University and he received a degree in 1946. He also became involved in composition during that time period. Around the 1950 he was involved with the post Webern movement at Darmstadt where he presented lecturer in composition workshops. His first composition was the orchestral “Variazioni Canoniche” based on the tone row from Schonberg’s “Ode to Napoleon.”


“Il Canto Sospeso” or The Suspended Song can be classified as a cantata because it has soloists, choir and

"IL CANTO SOSPESO" di Luigi Nono (1924-1990). CLAUDIO ABBADO, 195609:52

"IL CANTO SOSPESO" di Luigi Nono (1924-1990). CLAUDIO ABBADO, 1956.

orchestra. It was finished in 1956 It has a political message.

It has nine movements or sections. It has a constant alternation between the orchestra the choir and the soloists. Here Nono uses the Darmstadt ideology in which Nono was involved and he referred to this work as a “cantata.” It is a representation of “wedge” which is an all interval tone row, which means that all the intervals within the octave are ordered expanded in symmetrical sequences by a triton. It a considered a serial masterpiece because Nono uses the serialism technique on it, the entire fourth movement is integrated into the music theater piece “Intolleranca 1960.”The other technical aspect is the method of pitch permutation which was created by Bruno Maderna but Nono used it in several movement of this piece.


The musical vision of Luigi Nono can be compared with Pierre Boulez who composed music within the serialism but also in a post-expressionism style. Both were impacted by the post revolutionary period and they were associated with the Darmstadt style which is a style of composition in which the composer has the freedom to make music in their own style against the traditions. In Le marteau sans maître which is a piece for voice and ensemble composed between 1953 and 1957 it has different elements of the 20th century music in some spots it has some jazz passages and African rhythms the innovation in this piece is the “pitch multiplication” concept that Luigi Nono didn’t use. 


For me it was interesting to listen to the piece and feel the essence of the serialism stl of Luigi Nono is a very avant-garde artist or me.

​Works CitedEdit

Nielinger, Carola. “the Song Unsung’: Luigi Nono’s “Il Canto Sospeso.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association. Vol. 131, No. 1 (2006): 83-150.

 “Il Canto Sospeso” di Luigi Nono (1924-1990). Claudio Abbado, 1956. YouTube Video uploaded by “Camilla Simoncini” on Jan 27, 2011.

“Le Marteau Sans Maitre-Boulez-Callithumpian Consort-FULL VIDEO. YouTube Video Uploaded by “CallithumpianConsort” on May 16, 2011.[ ] 

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