2019.09.27 Edoardo Bruni: making music means living

I would like to begin this brief portrait of Edoardo Bruni with one of Bruno Maderna’s thoughts: “Making music means living. Living like a man, not like a vegetable. […] Many composers that are famous nowadays are unfortunately already dead without realising it. […] Others who appeared to be dead suddenly reawaken and produce living works […]”. If you would like to read the full text from which these lines come, you can find it in Bruno Maderna, “Composition in three movements”, 1954, edited by Edoardo Bruni, published by Suvini Zerboni, Milan 2008, p. VI. I have chosen this quotation because I am convinced that these few words by Maderna, written in the programme notes of the concert on 8th January 1954, when Composition in three movements was performed, sum up the editor of the critical work: for Edoardo Bruni, in fact, “Making music means living”.

He started studying music playing the piano and went through all the learning stages carefully and thoroughly; he soon began composing, attending composition classes held by a wide range of teachers active in prestigious schools throughout Europe; at the same time he studied the history and philosophy of music and the society in which it was composed, combining it with the languages of the countries where he completed his musical education; shortly after, he began to teach the various aspects of music and its theories at various levels.

It can be said that Edoardo Bruni has done all the “trades” possible in music, even being a philologist, which is usually a fairly exclusive one. I met him as a PhD student in co-tutorship between the Universities of Trento and Paris IV and I appreciated his seriousness and tenacity in research and his ability to get to the bottom of problems without being satisfied with the initial results. But while I was following his path in theoretical research, I realized that this was not the only objective for him, but that, along with the theoretical side, living in music required the practical element of sound: concert performances and composing.

When we had finished our Italian-French Doctorate, our paths took different directions: while he continued to be fully involved in live music, I concentrated on research and I was content to follow him in music as a member of the audience at some of his events. I should say straight away that it is not easy to follow a person who lives so deeply in music and especially in “his” music, also because – according to his own reconstruction of the facts – his “way” of understanding music has gradually been refined throughout four phases.
Nel 1992 Bruni comincia a comporre utilizzando il linguaggio e le tecniche dei grandi compositori su cui si era formato, non certo coll’intento di comporre “esercizi di stile” ma perché non considerava esaurite le potenzialità espressive di quegli strumenti linguistici.

In 1992 Bruni began to compose using the language and techniques of the great composers he had studied, certainly not with the intention of composing just “stylistic exercises” but because he did not consider the expressive potential of these linguistic tools to be exhausted.

A few years later Bruni felt the need to get away from the romantic style and began to explore a path through apparently opposing concepts, which even today determine his choices. Synthesizing the cognitive relationship between music and the world in the opposite “modes” of “irrational – subconscious – subjective” versus “rational – conscious – objective”, we see him drawing closer to music characterized by a less definite relationship with the external world, articulated in an expressionistic and sometimes atonal sonority.

In the first decade of the second millennium, Bruni chose his own aesthetic-compositional path when faced with the two choices offered by the contemporary scene: was music moving towards a newfound ingenuity, or towards the expression of the malaise of existence itself? Discarding both options, Bruni refined his linguistic “Modes” by intensifying chromaticism, but at the same time lightening the impact on the listener with the insertion of modal scalar elements.

Thus we come to the present, the second decade of the 21st century, which sees Bruni clarifying his highly personalised style, characterized by the use of a pan-modal language, which is at the basis of a larger project not only of compositional technique, but of a vision of the world: the ARS MODI project – L’ARTE DEL MODO. This synthesizes, on the one hand, a precise aesthetic-philosophical concept through the manifesto of cathartic music, and on the other, a personal scientific approach to musical language through the technique of pan-modality.

I hope that the attentive listener will find in the Bruni of today the results of a rich, but individual and distinct journey.

Rossana Dalmonte