Fabio Vacchi (Bologna, 1949). In 1974 he took part in the courses of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (USA), where he won the Koussewitzky Prize in Composition.
In 1976 he won First Prize at the Gaudeamus competition in Holland, with Les soupirs de Geneviève for 11 solo strings.
In 1979 and 1981 the Biennale di Venezia devoted two concerts solely to his work.
For the theatre he has written: the opera Girotondo, after Schnitzler (1982, Maggio Musicale, Florence); Il Viaggio (1990, Teatro Comunale, Bologna); the opera La Station thermale, commissioned by the Opéra de Lyon (1993, with repeats in 1994 and 1995) and later staged at La Scala of Milan (1995), then at the Opéra Comique of Paris; Faust, un poema coreografico (1995, Feste Musicali Bolognesi); the ballet Dionysos (first performed in a staged production at the Settimana dell’Accademia Chigiana, 1998); the opera Les oiseaux de passage produced at the Opéra de Lyon in 1998 and repeated in October 2001 at the Teatro Comunale of Bologna; and the one-act La burla universale, on a text by Franco Marcoaldi, commissioned by RAI Radio3 in 2001.
Il letto della storia, an opera with a libretto by Franco Marcoaldi, co-produced by the Maggio Fiorentino, the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa and the Nuovo Auditorium of Rome, was staged in Florence in 2003. It was awarded the Abbiati prize of 2004 for the best new work.
Among his copious instrumental production it is worth mentioning the following work in particular: Luoghi Immaginari (1987-1992), a cycle of chamber pieces that has been given innumerable performances throughout the world and has been conducted by Daniel Harding at the Salzburg Mozarteum; the cantata Sacer Sanctus (1997) for chorus and instruments, with a text by Giuseppe Pontiggia, a work commissioned by La Scala (where it was performed at Easter 1997) and later repeated at the Festival of Ravenna 1998, the Festival Présence 2002 of Paris and S. Cecilia in Rome in 2003; and Notturno concertante (1994) for guitar and orchestra.
In 1997, on the invitation of Claudio Abbado, he transcribed for large orchestra his own chamber work Dai Calanchi di Sabbiuno, a piece composed for a concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Resistance and first performed at La Scala in 1995. The orchestral version was part of the programme of the Easter 1997 tour of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (30 March to 11 April) and performed at Salzburg (Große Festspielehaus), Budapest, Prague, Vienna (great hall of the Musikverein), Sarajevo and Graz. Among the many repeats of this piece (in its various versions it has been played over a hundred times), it is worth remembering the tour of the Orchestra della Scuola di Fiesole in the summer of 1998, with Luciano Berio conducting, that of the Maggio Fiorentino Orchestra under Zubin Mehta in February 2000, a performance at La Scala by the Orchestra Filarmonica in October of the same year, and a performance by the Orchestra of Washington conducted by Roberto Abbado in 2003.
On 20 September 1997 his Briefe Büchners, a work for voice and instruments commissioned by Claudio Abbado, was performed at the Berlin Philharmonie and included in the cycle dedicated to George Büchner, in collaboration with the Berliner Festwochen.
The Salzburger Festspiele 2000 performed Tre Veglie, a festival commission for mezzo-soprano, cello and large orchestra.
In 2001 he took part in the project, co-ordinated by Luciano Berio, of reworking J.S. Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge: he contributed Contrapunctus V.
En Vinternatt (a commission of Ferrara Musica 2001) was written in 2001 for a tour of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with Sir Neville Marriner conducting.
Again in 2002 Riccardo Muti conducted the first performance of the Diario dello sdegno, a commission of La Scala’s Filarmonica orchestra. Muti also included the piece in the programmes of the Filarmonica’s subsequent international tours.
In December 2002 the inaugural concert of the great hall of the New Auditorium in Rome, with Myung-Whun Chung conducting, opened with his Terra comune, a work for large chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Accademia di S. Cecilia.
In 2002 his music for Ermanno Olmi’s film Il mestiere delle armi was awarded the David di Donatello prize for the best film soundtrack. The piece for soprano and string orchestra In pace, in canto, was written in the summer of 2003 to be included in the soundtrack of Cantando dietro i paraventi, another film by Olmi. In 2005 he wrote the soundtrack for Patrice Chéreau’s next film Gabrielle (winning the soundtrack prize of the Ente dello Spettacolo) and Olmi’s I cento chiodi.
In 2003 he composed Memoria italiana for the Hilliard Ensemble, as a commission of the Festival delle Nazioni. Also dating to 2003 is the performance of Veglia in canto for violin and orchestra, written for Pavel Vernikov, and in Boston Canti di Benjaminovo, a commission of the Boston Musica Viva Ensemble, a work based on texts from the poem of the same name by Franco Marcoaldi.
In the same year his Quartet no. 3, commissioned by the Tokyo Quartet, was performed on its international tour. For this work the American web journal Concertonet awarded the Lully Award for the best new piece of the season.
In 2004 he composed Irini, Esselam, Shalom (for reciting voice, violin and large orchestra on texts prepared by Moni Ovada) for the Orchestra Verdi and Canti d’ombre for the Orchestra Nazionale RAI
He was composer in residence at the Mittelfest from 2004 to 2006. Festival concerts dedicated to his work have included first performances of Cjante, for soprano and orchestra (2004), Voce d’altra voce, for chorus and orchestra (2005) and Mi chiamo Roberta for reciting voice and ensemble (2006)
In 2006 the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino commissioned Voci di Notte, for orchestra, performed at the opening concert of the festival with Zubin Mehta conducting. In the same year the Salzburg Festival presented La giusta armonia (a festival commission) for reciting voice and orchestra with the Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Riccardo Muti and with the participation of Peter Simonischek.
On 14 April 2007 the Orchestra Sinfonica di Santa Cecilia, conducted by Antonio Pappano, performed his Mare che fiumi accoglie in Rome.
In March 2007 the Carlo Colla marionette company staged Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Chicago and New York (Broadway) with his incidental music. In July the Settimana Musicale Senese in Siena gave the premiere of his opera La madre del mostro (with a libretto by Michele Serra). The world premiere of the three-act opera Teneke will take place on 22 September, with Roberto Abbado conducting, the stage direction of Ermanno Olmi, and scenes and costumes by Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Vacchi teaches at the Conservatory of Milan and regularly holds master classes of composition. He is an honorary member of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. Since 2004 he has also been an acting member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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