Music to be Seen

author Iannis Xenakis
written by Sharon Kanach


Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001) holds a unique position in the recent history of twentieth-century art due to the fact that, before becoming one of the most important composers of his generation, he was trained as an engineer and belatedly recognized as a pioneering architect. His formal education and empirical practice in Le Corbusier’s studio for twelve years (1947–1959) – both coupled with his natural talent – made Xenakis a remarkable draughtsman, to the point that he maintained a certain edge over his composer colleagues. Graphics are indispensable; there are things that can be more easily manipulated through drawing. I acquired this experience during the twelve years I dealt with architecture with Le Corbusier. Traditionally, composers are trained to consider music from a micro-to-macro-perspective, true to their etymological root, componere: to put together, ultimately at the expense of an immediate grasp of the overall form.