As we gear up for a week of recording Fausto Romitelli’s music at EMPAC, get to know Fausto through some beautiful tributes written by his friends and family. We were fortunate to have gathered these for a concert back in April 2010, and happy to share them again here with our e-fans!
Riccardo Nova: Composer Colleague
“It is difficult to speak/write briefly about Fausto; his personality had so many qualities. His very special way of laughing is the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I think of him – it was contagious, and the last time I heard him laughing was few day before his death: I called him from a public telephone somewhere in India. He was in the hospital attached to an oxygen mask. He could hear the heavy noise of the Indian traffic in the background and he made some ironic comments related to the “nice cacophony” … he could not breathe so well, but still managed to laugh. This was my last conversation with him … after a few days, he was gone.
In the late nineties Fausto and I shared a small flat in Liege; we were both working at the CRFMW. At that time Fausto was composing Bad Trip Lesson 1 (at the CRFMW he was realizing the electronic tape) … we were in the studio from morning till very late at night, and usually, in the morning, I was the first to wake up and make the coffee. Everyday when the coffee was ready, I would try to get him out of bed and he responded with the same sentence, “Please do not disturb me, I am working. Let me work a bit more….” I do not know if this was true or not, but whenever I hear his music, and specifically Bad Trip 1, I always recall those moments, for it is likely that his mind was in this “in-between reality”, where dreams and consciousness are merged together and where the mind is not yet totally in contact with the solidity of actual reality. . . I never forced him to wake up faster and every morning he drank his coffee cold. . .”
Giovanni Verrando: Composer Colleague
“Listening to Fausto’s music explains the kind of person he was: bold, cultured, and with a strong imagination. He was an extraordinary reader, thinking it was valuable for a contemporary composer to know in detail the good and bad habits of his time, and taking risks by showing those habits in his own scores. For us, his works such as Professor Bad Trip or An Index of Metals are flags, road signs that show us in which direction we have to carry on with our music.”
Marco Mazzolini: Publishing Representative, Ricordi Milan
“Fausto liked cycling at night in his village of Gorizia. Gorizia is a border town and at night it is completely deserted – when you walk, you hear only the sound of your footsteps. Fausto would pedal fast on empty streets in the faint light of the streetlamps, and was regularly stopped by the police, asking him for his documents every time.
We were friends and we talked amongst ourselves as two friends do. We worked together and joked together. Writing took up all his life and his way of being; there was the same hypersensitivity and visionary soul in his music — the same intelligence, the same irony, the same playful torment. “It is not required that one lives up to eighty,” he said, lying in his hospital bed. His thinking was lively and open, but filled with a strange urgency and full of loneliness. I feel like smiling when I think of Fausto riding the bike, pedaling fast at night through the deserted streets of Gorizia.”
Mauro Lanza: IRCAM colleague
“The very first time I met Fausto was a long time ago in Venice, after a concert. I clearly remember him – an Italian composer between Italian composers – freezing the audience when he provocatively stated his profound dislike for “all that Italian contemporary music”. It was not so much a judgment as the attitude of a child dropping a stink bomb and waiting for reactions to happen.
Our second encounter was at IRCAM. I was a student who had just arrived, attending his first “Espace de Projection” concert ever. There I heard Fausto’s music for the first time: the first chapter of his “Professor Bad Trip” trilogy. This piece deeply impressed me, not only because of the appealing mix of sonorities, echoing spectral music and progressive rock, but especially because of its form.
Unlike many “second generation” spectral composers, Fausto was not trying to get rid of continuity and slowness; he was raising them to the nth power. With him, repetition becomes hypnotic and ritual, inharmonic spectra become a metaphor of un-human, “processes” spreading illness, and the order-chaos polarity, typical of early spectral works, is now a one-way travel towards entropy.
To a certain extent his music was often impersonal, like a natural phenomenon. Fausto was an unmerciful god creating his miniature world, infecting his lab colony with a deadly virus and waiting for things to happen.
I remember having been compulsively listening to “Professor Bad Trip” for months before receiving the shocking news of Fausto’s death. The energy, vision and straightforwardness of his work have deeply influenced me as well as a whole generation of young composers.”
Valentina Romitelli: Sister
“I have never provided a comment on Fausto and his music, as I inevitably focus on the person, the man, the brother, and forget about the composer, which is probably what audiences care most about. Yet, the passionate request by the Talea Ensemble and the sincere enthusiasm of its members convinced me to write a few words about Fausto Romitelli.
The first qualities I would mention are his continuous research, curiosity, need to read and listen to ‘everything’, look ‘beyond’, seeking something new, and then the need to develop, polish, review everything in a restless effort to reach something. I do not know what it was, but he was never fully satisfied. Yet it happened a few times that after a first execution by a good ensemble he enjoyed his music and appeared even happy about the final outcome of his efforts, and, in the end, happy if people appreciated his music.
He was a contrarian, often remaining distant from trends and vogues, and, as a young composer, he got quite angry when someone suggested his music was influenced by his teacher. After a few years, his music had gone very far away, pushed by his research and driven by his strong will to move up, to look ahead. Even in his personal life he was never really still: he used to read many books at the same time, to change his mind again and again…. A friend of his once commented, ‘He was never happy, never satisfied: he wanted to be in his hometown when he was in Milan, wanted to be in Milan when he was in Paris, and to be in Paris when he was back home… in short he was happy only on the train.’
The last aspect of his complex personality I would mention here is his light approach to life: maybe that was also a way of balancing his strong commitment for music — which used to absorb a huge amount of concentration and energy — or a (positive) side-effect of his disease and a way to live with it. In any case his style of blending lightness with complexity and ‘culture’ is definitely part of his heritage, and his music reflects this.”