Iannis Xenakis is composer, architect, civil engineer and mathematician united in one person. Born in Rumania of Greek parents in 1922, he received his education in Greece at the Technical University of Athens. After World War II, he was forced to leave Greece, having been a member of the Greek resistance.

In 1974 he went to France as a political refugee and has lived there ever since. In the 1950s he cooperated in Paris with Le Corbusier on a number of architectural projects of which the Phillips Pavilion at the Brussels world fair in 1958 is probably the most famous example. That same decade his first published compositions appeared, stimulated by the lessons he followed with Olivier Messiaen, Hermann Scherchen and Darius Milhaud in both France and Switzerland.

In those years he developed an individual style of composing in which his technical and mathematical background was clearly present. By linking music to mathematics, he seemed to fall back on the medieval practice of grouping music together with the arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. In Xenakis's music there are no bounds between art and science. Xenakis refrains from serialism and searches for new ways to order musical parameters. He finds inspiration in architectural structures and mathematical models as well as in the "music of nature" (thunder, storm, rain).

One of his favorite techniques is "stochastic" music, which makes use of probability methods and random theory to determine musical details. His interest in mathematical theories and the application of them in his music led him to be the first composer (as early as 1957) to use computers in musical composition. He developed UPIC, a computer drawing board for both compositional and educational purposes. The impressive construction of his compositions and the raw, sometimes painful sounds he conceives are the main characteristics of his music.


Club Oberon in Harvard Square | February 8, 2011
Moonshine Room at Club Café | December 8, 2009
Moonshine Room at Club Café | February 10, 2004