Incontri musicali

(Milan, 1956-1960)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2017)

Incontri musicali. Quaderni internazionali di musica contemporanea [INC] was published in Milan by Edizioni Suvini Zerboni. Founded and directed throughout by Luciano Berio (1925-2003), the journal consists of four annual volumes published in December 1956 (80 p.), May 1958 (76 p.), August 1959 (162 p.) and September 1960 (191 p.). The periodical exemplifies the interests of musicians of the post-Second World War period in new directions in contemporary music, featured in a number of journals published in Europe. These are the years characterized by the radical crisis of the tonal system and by the pronounced emergence of partisans of avant-garde music. INC attracted as collaborators some champions — composers and music critics, Italian and foreign — of the newest trends in contemporary music, including, among others, Henri Pousseur, Roberto Leydi, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Paolo Castaldi, Umberto Eco, John Cage, Fedele D’Amico, Ernst Krenek, Pierre Boulez, in addition to the founder, Berio. Reviews are only published in the 1960 volume.

INC features first-class critical essays of various topics dealing with the new tendencies in contemporary music, the new challenges and problems facing young composers, and a series of ample articles dedicated specifically to various compositional stylistic characteristics, such as form, orchestration, serial techniques, aleatoric and electronic music, and frequently include detailed analyses of individual works, enhanced by copious music examples. These include Henri Pousser’s essay assessing the contributions of Schoenberg and Webern concerning twelve-tone procedures in 1956 and 1958, Stockhausen’s method of composing with electronic means (1956), a definition of aleatoric music by Boulez and Pousseur (1959, 1960), and Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, one of the central texts of twentieth-century experimental literature (1959). Of particular interest is the debate on the conceptual meaning of “open work” between the writer -philosopher Umberto Eco and the music critic Fedele D’Amico (1960).

In the closing essay of 1958, Berio provides information on the aims of INC and on its intent of introducing the general public to the most significant and original aspects of contemporary music. Included are detailed programmes of concerts of contemporary works given in Naples and in Milan (1958, 1959). The journal ceased publication without explanation.