Francesco FILIDEI

He completed his music studies at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence and at the CNS de Paris. In 2000 he completed the course in composition and technology at IRCAM and in 2004 the Voix Nouvelles in Royaumont.

In 2006 he received the Salzburg Förderpreis, the Commande of the Ircam Reading Panel, and was in residence at the Academy Schloss Solitude. In 2007 he won the Takefu International Prize and became member in residence of the Casa de Velazquez in Madrid. In 2009 he obtained the Siemens Förderpreis and in 2010 he was professor of composition in Royaumont, Iowa University and Takefu Academy. He won the Picasso-Mirò UNESCO Medal in 2011 and the Villa Medicis Residency program in 2012. In 2015 he was on a residency in Berlin DAAD.

In 2016 he was made Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

He has been invited  in several important festivals such Darmstadt, Donaueschingen, Wien Modern, Musica Strasbourg, Venice Biennale, Milano Musica, Printemps des Arts Monaco, Agora Ircam, Mata Festival in New York, Huddersfield.

Both as a composer and organist he has been recorded by Radio Tre, RadioFrance, SWR, RSR.

His works are published by Rai Trade and performed by ensembles such as 2E2M, musikFabrik, Linea, l’Itineraire, Alter Ego, Intercontemporain, Percussions de Strasbourg, Klangforum Wien, Recherche, Ascolta, Next Mushroom Promotion, Ars Ludi, Ictus, Neue Vocalsolisten, OSN RAI, WDR, SWR, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.


" Tre Quadri (2020) "

Concerto pour piano et orchestre

Ed. Casa Ricordi


Written in 2020, the works that comprise Tre Quadri form a concerto for piano and classical orchestra, featuring a broad first movement whose character is unstable, followed by a central andante whose gait is nearly suspended, and winding up with an allegro in the form of a scherzo.


I – November

[…] From the high, crystalline registers of the piano, irregularly following a descending chromatic scale, the low and deep registers of the orchestra are uncovered; from the imperceptible pianissimos of the strings in tremolo on the bridge, we reach through gradual crescendos a reiterating of dissonant chords in fortissimo featuring all the instruments. The title of this work probably owes something to the autumnal reflections painted by the orchestra, a poem by Edoardo Sanguineti and another by Nanni Balestrini, All Saints and All Souls days, the rain, and red wine.

Co-commissioned by Milano Musica, Casa da Música of Porto, the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music.

This piece is dedicated to Maurizio Baglini and Tito Ceccherini.


II – Berceuse

In a lulling 7/8 movement, the construction of this short piece is entirely based on the addition of the twelve major scales. […] The piece does not move from where it starts. A single light green varnish, transparent and glossy, covers everything, while allowing evidently Chopinesque streaks to filter through. With this process, I wanted to shed a different light on a tonal piece (being at the same time serial, “dodecaphonic” and modal). In this sense, for me the piece is a variation on intents and vision of tradition.

This piece is dedicated to Jiji des Corsicarlins.


III – Quasi una Bagatella

How to approach a tribute to two of the greatest composers of all time?

I’ve already tried to answer this question by orchestrating several works for organ by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Killing Bach. My aim was to underscore Bach’s building When Patrick Hahn and Francois-Xavier Roth asked me to do something based on Beethoven’s Piano

Concerto No. 5, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, I realized almost immediately that this would

not be an operation in any way analogous: Bach builds, Beethoven destroys.

How could I destroy a destroyer?

I worked on the problem, narrowed it down to the bare bones. I didn’t have to dig very far, though. The material used by Beethoven boils down to scales and arpeggios. So, that’s where I began. I wanted to put them up for discussion, in a way different from the original, but with the same inspiration.

Unlike Killing Bach, where the direct quotes were born before the treatment, the references to the original concerto fit in with an architecture made up of practically archetypal scales and arpeggios. From the title (which mocks Fantasia quasi Sonata, as well as Sonata quasi una Fantasia) to the piano techniques applied, I also somewhat comically snuck in some early Franz Liszt, Beethoven’s first great prophet.

This piece was commissioned by Gürzenich-Orchester Köln.

Francesco Filidei

" Requiem (2020) "

Pour chœur (16 voix) et 17 instruments

Ed. Casa Ricordi


So here I am, the score is finished, with the program notes still to be written. Oh, my eyesight’s gotten worse, my back is killing me, and the same old frivolous questions come back to haunt me. What to do with life and the perception that time is fleeting? What to do with all my memories and the past itself? And what about all these questions that keep hounding me? The answers to which leave the seeker empty-handed. On a lighter note, what the devil am I supposed to write to fill up half a page on the concert program? For a Requiem?

The risk of slipping into facile rhetoric is just around the corner, and I’d like to avoid coming off as the last harbinger of doom digging my claws into the latest crisis that happens to pop up out of nowhere.

In any case, I’ve given up trying to figure out whether there’s any sense in composing a Requiem today. Whatever drove me to write one is a mystery, and one I still have to solve.

What is certain, is that ever since I composed my first works, I’ve placed at the center of my reflections an investigation into all the absurdity that seems to accompany us wherever we go, whatever we do. We grow up full of promises and hope, and we eventually vanish into thin air, leaving behind almost nothing that the few acquaintances we have can hold onto. And the fact that there’s no complaints office where you can go to gripe about the wretchedness of existence doesn’t help matters much when you’re trying to make sense of it all.

I can already imagine what might remain of me after I’m gone. Maybe a few remarks from some hypothetical artistic director, like, “Oh, yeah, Filidei… Of course, I remember him. He was the guy who was always demanding more money for his commissions, who would write those pathetic program notes and send them in after his latest threatening phone call. And he would always be tinkering around with those bird calls that he peppered his scores with. No wonder that one day, poof! Someone must have taken him for a coot. And that was that. Anyway, all her ever wound up doing was recycling the old stuff, and that’s about it. Requiescat in pace, etc., etc. Amen.”

No, just joking. It’s not over for me, nor is it over for my rambling. I’m still here, bludgeoned by thoughts of the end, which only lead me back to the beginning. To the point where my music is overflowing with dances of death, the triumphs of death, finite gestures, the silence of death. I even came up with the ill-fated idea of writing The Funeral of the Anarchist Serantini, and when rehearsals rolled around, I’d read stuff like, “Thursday, 3 pm. Filidei: Funeral”.

Hasn’t the time come already to change directions, and start writing polkas and mazurkas? But how to put an end to this obsession with the end? Have a mass said in its name?

Perhaps not. Of all the music I’ve written, a Requiem was missing. So I added one, just for the sake of rounding things out. I suppose. To anyone that might think it strange for a non-believer to write a Requiem, and using devotional lyrics to boot, I reply: If my becoming an organist was never a long way off from my need to write a Requiem, it is mostly due to my longing to evoke the melancholy sensation at the root of such a choice, the kind of feeling that only a form of music long since dead can conjure up.

If I don’t believe in God, I do make an effort to believe in the passion of our history and what we may remember from our past, as well as in the will to preserve all the emotion that survives. Which is why I like to use material rife with experiences lived. In them, it’s easier to recognize oneself and observe the pathways undertaken. A way to contradict, whenever necessary, those selfsame pathways, that, however, keep cropping up in the present. In any case, starting from scratch is pure utopia, so we might as well take that as a given. Then, once the piece has grown and reached maturity, its fate is whatever God may or may not have decided. Did I just say God? Maybe it’s the mocking effect of my last name* that has always condemned me do the math whenever the topic of God happens to come up. Fingers crossed!

Still here, but it’s almost over. Just a few more lines to go, and I’ll have done my job with words (a dirty job, but somebody – in this case, me – has got to do it) instead of musical notes. Come to think of it, I’d like to see what a writer would be capable of if asked to explain one of his or her novels using sounds instead of words. Crash-bang-boom!

I’m losing it. Let’s get this over with. As for writers, one last thought. This work will premiere in Portugal, so I’d like to dedicate it to Antonio Tabucchi. Requiem is the title of one of his best books. The story is set in Lisbon, suspended in time. The last time I spoke with Tabucchi, it was one of those crazy encounters, like the ones he describes in that novel. He was very melancholy, sitting at the bar at the airport in Pisa. We agreed to meet up again in Paris, where he lived. But I ended up never seeing him again. This Requiem owes something to him. Despite the Latin. Despite the rigid forms, which he might not have approved of.

Francesco Filidei

" Ballata N°7 (2018) "

Pour ensemble

Ed. Casa Ricordi


Over the years, I have repeatedly felt the need to change my musical language, namely from one consisting entirely of mere noises to one made of pure sounds. But a few elements have remained unchanged and point to clear, internally consistent path. Looking through my list of works, the first thing one notices is the frequent use of titles that refer to musical forms of the past – toccatas, sonatas, ballades and preludes. In these cases it was always less a matter of filling an empty formal shell with unusual material than of contextualizing a musical object, offering the listener a possible frame of reference. Once this path had been taken, it was a matter of repeatedly breaking it open and questioning it.

It is in the writing of music that I have found the best possibility to keep the memory of my own story - and of many other past stories - and of many other past stories - alive, for music is like a running thread that can colour time, that time in which the memory operates. The necessity of limiting this time in order to observe it better led to a focus on the closed arched form, as well as an economic use of a minimum of material, both of which guide the attention to the linear development of musical language. My Ballate do not simply evoke a Romantic form; beyond that, they are also parts of my path on the way to a comprehensive construction process.

Ballata N.7 continues this search and, at the same time, draws several lines to previous things: to Ballata N.2, as both works – in contrast to all the other Ballate – feature no soloist; to Ballata N.6 because of the kinship with language; and it resembles Ballate N.4 and N.5 through the close connections to works written at the same time. In Ballata N.7, the material draws its form from the notes for the opera Inondation, based on a text by Evgueni Zamiatine (premiered in September 2019 at the Opéra Comique in Paris). This resulted in a music that retains a dynamic character and is closer to the ballades of Liszt than to my own previous works. Ballata N.7 is dedicated to Shinichi Baba, a Tai Chi master who recently passed away.

Francesco Filidei

" Giordano Bruno "


Rai Com


Condemned to the stake by the Roman Inquisition, Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is the central charismatic figure in the first opera by his countryman, Francesco Filidei. Musica is co-producing the staging of this European event of which Peter Rundel and Antoine Gindt are the project managers.

At the end of the trial, Pope Clement VIII finally refused to pardon the convicted man who, eight years earlier, had presented himself thus to the judges: “I am called Giordano Bruno, letters and science are my profession.” (scene 5).

Bruno had devoted his life of letters and science to the persistent publication of numerous works (such as the trilogy The Supper of Ashes, Cause, Principle and Unity, and The Infinite, the Universe and the Worlds in which he develops his post-Copernican and anti-Aristotelian concepts), and for almost fifteen years, to an interminable European journey – Geneva, Toulouse, Paris, London, Wittenberg, Prague, Frankfurt... In 1591, on his return to Italy, in Venice to be exact, he was handed over to the Inquisition by his supposed protector, Giovanni Mocenigo, who had employed him to be taught mnemonics and other hermetic skills of which Bruno was an indisputable adept.

The denunciation referred to his heretical and blasphemous opinions and statements: the theory of infinite worlds, metempsychosis... denial of the Trinity, of trans-substantiation and the virginity of Mary. On 17 February, 1600, a witness of his burning at the stake reported the words Bruno uttered to his accusers, (“You are carrying out a sentence against me with perhaps more fear than I who receive it.”) and established to a certain extent the myth of the executed man: excommunicated Dominican friar, apostate persecuted by the religious order, over the centuries he became a symbol of freedom of opinion, incarnation of anti-clericalism, a kind of Joan of Arc of dissident thought.

Francesco Filidei composed his opera in two parts (Venice, Rome) and twelve scenes which alternate, in a strict chromatic declension, the chronology of the trial and the presentation of Brunian philosophy. Above all, it places at the centre of the work an ensemble of twelve solo voices – a kind of alter ego of the title role – which is the real musical and dramatic engine of the project. “An opera which speaks about the masses,” he said, as if these voices influenced as much as they condemned this “man of a small stature, with a little black beard,” an uncontrollable philosopher, unbearable lover of life and contradictor.

The twelve tableaux are borne by an incandescent score which draws its expressive force from the sources of the Italian Renaissance. Strangely, the opera resonates with our current affairs where religious and ideological intolerance seem, once again, to be in competition with the principles of thought and reflection.