01 / 01
Architecture buro

Bio Mauro Cardi

Mauro Cardi (Rome, 1955) studied at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory with Guido Turchi, Gino Marinuzzi jr. and Irma Ravinale, graduating in Composition, Choral Music and Choral Conducting and Instrumentation for Wind Orchestra. In 1980 he obtained his first teaching position at the "Alfredo Casella" Conservatory of Aquila. He is a founding member of the Testaccio Music School, where he taught until 1998 and then again from 2018 to 2020.
In 1982 he achieved his first recognition by winning the Valentino Bucchi International Prize with Melos, for soprano and orchestra.

Fundamental is his encounter with Franco Donatoni, with whom he perfected his studies at the Chigiana Academy of Siena and the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. If the works of the early '80s are affected by Donatonian influence, Mauro Cardi, who also dedicated an extensive analytical essay to Franco Donatoni, published in the magazine Suono Sonda, soon reaches a personal stylistic code by addressing "towards musical forms modeled on timbric intuitions and sound images, with sudden expressive abandonments"(1) "which converge a natural propensity towards a contrapuntal approach to writing and, finally, a playful dimension of composing, exercised by a fascination for logic and the symbolic value inherent in numbers". (2) (3)

In 1984 he attended the Darmstadt Ferienkurse. With Les Masques, Quattro Capricci for flute, viola and guitar, he won the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize in Amsterdam. He was present at Gaudeamus Music Week in 1985 with the piece Trama, for violin, commissioned by the Gaudeamus Foundation, (Robert Szreder, violin), which represents the highest moment of a personal research on instrumental virtuosity and, again in 1986, with Filigrana (performed by the Nieuw Ensemble).

With Promenade: Variazioni sul blu, in 1987, he represented Italy at the Unesco International Tribune of Composers. In 1988 In corde, for orchestra, probably the most complex work from the point of view of the compositional processes put in place, won the second prize at the Gian Francesco Malipiero International Competition. Since 1988 he has been a member of Nuova Consonanza, of which he will also be President from 1999 to 2001.

In 1989 he was in Australia, where has been performed the world premiere of Effetto Notte, for eight players, commissioned by the Elision ensemble, at the Melba Hall of the University of Melbourne. He was a guest lecturer at the Brisbane School of Arts and the Institut of the Arts in Canberra, where a monographic concert has been dedicated to him.
In Effetto Notte Mauro Cardi develops a methodology, taken up in several subsequent works, which through the expansion and proliferation of an initial material, leads to the production of a vast amount of data, inserted in numerical matrices. These matrices allow, in subsequent rereadings, filterings or transformations, the definition of significant elements, musical figures at the end.
From this work he also began to take an interest in musical computer science, first to elaborate and control complex processes, numerical matrices that require algorithms, as in the case described, and at the end of codes written according to the programming languages of the time, and subsequently also for the production and processing of sound with first analog and then digital devices.
The musical resources provided by electronics, which will be increasingly present in subsequent works, always move for Cardi on these two axes: on the one hand computer science, with its possibilities to define and control complex compositional processes, and on the other electroacoustics, with its resources for the control of sound sources, for the processing of instrumental sound, for the production of unprecedented sounds and finally for building man-machine interactions.

Commissioned by the Discoteca di Stato, in 1990 he composed Calendari Indiani, for female voice and 10 performers, on traditional Native American texts, then recorded on CD Ricordi, (Musica d'Oggi ensemble, Luisa Castellani soprano, director Luciano Pelosi), and resumed in 1993 in the concert season of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, with the Ensemble Modern, Luisa Castellani soprano, Lothar Zagrosek conductor.

In the 90s he carried out works in the Agon electroacoustic production and research centers in Milan, CRM (Music Research Center) in Rome, Gramma Institute of L'Aquila, as Libra (version B) (1990), for vibraphone and tape, for Gianluca Ruggeri, commissioned by Musica Verticale and, in 1993, E la notte oscurava la notte, for three MIDI and electronic keyboards, commissioned by Agon. In 1995 he was selected by IRCAM for the international internship.

Commissioned by the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, in 1995, he composed his first opera, the scenic-musical action in one act Nessuna coincidenza, interpreters Margherita Pace, Christine Marano, Luigi Petroni, Musica d'Oggi ensemble, conductor Fabio Maestri, scenes and costumes by Emanuele Luzzati.

Also in the 90s, as a part of the Radiofilm project, conceived and created by RAI with the major publishers and research and production centers in the field of electroacoustic music, he composed the two radio works Temperatura esterna (1993), based on a text by Michele Mari (narrator Paolo Bonacelli) and La mia puntualità fu un capolavoro (1996), on texts by Marco Lodoli (voices by Giancarlo Dettori and Elena Stancanelli).
In 1997, with Manao Tupapau, he was a finalist at the "24th Electroacustique Music Competition" of the IMEB (Institut international de musique électroacoustique) of Bourges.

In 1997 he composed the melologue Lisbon revisited, for narrator and orchestra, on texts by Fernando Pessoa (first performance in Rome, 25/10/1997, 34th Festival di Nuova Consonanza, narrator Paolo Calabrese, Orchestra Nuova Scarlatti, conductor Enrico Marocchini), followed by two other melologues Timordime (2000), on texts by Pier Paolo Pasolini, (narrator Corrado Orsini and in 2002 Michele Placido) and Stanza 19 (2008), on texts by Jorge Luis Borges, voice Enzo Decaro, both first performed by the Abruzzese Symphonic Institution, directed by Enrico Marocchini.

In 1998 he obtained the chair of Composition at the “Luigi Cherubini” Conservatory in Florence, where he will teach until 2008. The teaching activity, also understood as a continuous research of experimental methodologies, has always been central to Cardi's musical activity, and many of his students, between Florence, Rome and L'Aquila, then established themselves internationally.
In 1998, BMG Ricordi published his first monographic CD Manao Tupapau, which contains the most significant works of the 90s.

Mauro Cardi has also devoted himself to musical theater for children, always setting himself the goal of finding a meeting point between a language that can be used by a young audience, without losing linguistic consistency and a place in the present. He has composed three works for children, all commissioned by the National Academy of Santa Cecilia: Levar (1998) as a part of the project Il fanciullo e gli incantesimi (co-authors Azio Corghi, Matteo D’Amico and Giulio Castagnoli); C’era una volta… la principessa dispettosa (2000), (co-authors Maria Cristina De Amicis, Alessandro Sbordoni, Roberta Vacca), based on texts by Nicoletta Costa; Trash, musical opera in one act for actor, actress/singers, sound objects, recycled sounds and street people (2004), (co-author Roberta Vacca), on a libretto by and directed by Francesca Angeli, replicated several times in the most important Italian opera houses after the Roman premiere.

From 1999 to 2001 he was President of Nuova Consonanza and curated, with Michele Dall’Ongaro, the artistic direction of the "Elettroshock" (1998), "From York to New York" (1999), "Terror Vocis" (2000) festivals.
Commissioned by the 63rd Maggio Musicale Fiorentino he composed Il fondo dell’acqua è disseminato di stelle, for two prepared pianos (2000), first performed by the piano duo Notarstefano-Risaliti.

Since 2000 he has been part of the Edison Studio collective of composers. With the other composers of Edison Studio (Luigi Ceccarelli, Fabio Cifariello Ciardi and Alessandro Cipriani) he experiments a shared composition practice, a sort of electroacoustic compositional laboratory to which various essays are dedicated, starting from the one published on “Organized Sound 9/3”, Cambridge University Press, entitled “Collective Composition: the Case of Edison Studio” and several degree theses. With Edison Studio he participates in the ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) 2002 (Gothenburg) and 2003 (Singapore).

With Altrove con il suo nome (2000) begins a long collaboration with Sonia Bergamasco which will lead, among other things, to the realization of the Oggetto d'amore project, seven musical scenes for voice, instruments, video and electronics, (2000-2008), based on texts by Pasquale Panella, commissioned by the 52nd Biennale di Venezia, premiered in Venice with the Freon ensemble, and published on CD by RAI Trade in 2009. In 2001 Giulio Latini and Silvia Di Domenico made a video on Altrove with his name, presented at the Rome FilmFest 2007.

With Edison Studio, since 2001, he made performative soundtracks for the silent films: The Last Days of Pompeii, by Eleuterio Ridolfi (1913), Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, by Robert Weine (1919), Inferno, by Francesco Bertolini and Adolfo Padovan (1911), awarded by the Italian Association of Sound Technicians with the “AITS Special Award for the best sound of the year 2011”, and Blackmail, by Alfred Hitchcock (1929). Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari and Inferno were published, respectively in 2011 and 2016, in 5.1 surround version on DVD by the Cineteca di Bologna, in the series Il Cinema ritrovato. These soundtracks, in which "music manages to design its own formal architectures and impose them on the viewer [...] real operations on listening time" (4), have been performed live by Edison Studio over seventy times in twelve countries, receiving acclaim from the public and critics everywhere, for their character of originality and updating of the original films. On these works has been published a monograph, “Edison Studio. Il Silent Film e l'Elettronica in Relazione Intermediale”, edited by Marco Maria Gazzano. (4)

As a part of the project "Riraccontare Verdi", in 2001, on the occasion of Verdi's centenary, he composed Su questa trama (per non dire l’Otello), for reciting voice and ensemble, on a dramaturgical text by Vittorio Sermonti, commissioned by the Società dei concerti “B.Barattelli”, and premiered in L'Aquila, by the Freon ensemble, with the reciting voice of Sermonti himself.
In 2004 he composed Souffle 1.2 (from Petrassi), for flute and ensemble for the Pontino Festival (Mario Caroli flute, Ensemble Algoritmo, director Marco Angius). I the same year, for the Banda dell’Aeronautica Militare, director Patrizio Esposito, he writes Eikon, for large symphonic band and electronics, commissioned by CRM (Centro Ricerche Musicali di Roma).
In 2007 Breath was performed at the Roman Theater for the "60.th Estate Fiesolana", for accordion and live electronics, written on commission by Nuovi Eventi Musicali and dedicated to Francesco Gesualdi. The piece is recorded on CD for Edizioni Curci in 2010, and then in 2020 for EMA-Vinci.

In 2008 Mauro Cardi relocated to the "Alfredo Casella" Conservatory of Aquila, where he still holds the chair of Composition and where, in 2012, he conceived and created the international conference “Comporre Oggi”, which reached its 9th edition in 2020.
In the same year Alba, for zarb and electronics, was selected at the ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) in Belfast.

With Luigi Ceccarelli he signed in 2008 the score of Medea incontra Norma, for two sopranos, ensemble and electronics, conceived and directed by Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, sopranos Tiziana Fabbricini and Laila Martinelli, a work commissioned by the Ravenna Festival.
Commissioned by the RAI National Symphony Orchestra of Turin he composes Tellus 6.3, for eight strings and four percussionists (first performance: Turin, 8th February 2010, Auditorium RAI - RAI Nuova Musica 2010. Interpreters: Ensemble of the OSN RAI, Fabio Maestri conductor).
For the 48th Festival di Nuova Consonanza, 2011, he composed Parafrasi L (après Liszt), for piano and symphonic band, Emanuele Arciuli, piano, Banda dell'Arma dei Carabinieri, conductor Massimo Martinelli.

The Sky Classica television broadcaster, of the Sky Italia platform, in 2011 dedicated to him a docu-film, "Contemporary Portrait of Mauro Cardi", directed by Francesca Checchi.

In 2012, with Edison Studio, he realizes the work I luoghi comuni non sono segnati sulle carte, for four instruments, ten recorded voices and live electronics, on texts by Marco Martinelli, with the choreography of Roberto Zappalà, commissioned by the Società Aquilana dei Concerti “B. Barattelli” and the dance company Gruppo E-motion and, in 2014, the music for En Dirigeable sur le champs de bataille, a 1919 docufilm, commissioned by the Cineteca di Bologna.
From the collaboration with the saxophonist Enzo Filippetti comes Zone (2014) for alto sax, of which, in the same year he realizes a second version with electronic processing in real time.

Inspired by the novel "Badenheim 1939” by Aharon Appelfeld, on a libretto written by Guido Barbieri, in 2014 he composed Il vento, dopo l’ultimo treno, for narrator and ensemble, commissioned by the Società Amici della Musica “G. Michelli” in Ancona, in collaboration with the Teatro Stabile delle Marche, RAI and the Jewish Community of Ancona, for the Day of Remembrance. The opera was performed in Ancona and Florence, with live RAI Radio3 broadcast, Carlo Cecchi narrator and the Freon Ensemble.

In 2017 he composed La Follia, for viola (with viola d'amore) and string orchestra, commissioned by I Solisti aquilani, for the violist Luca Sanzò, published in a  CD in 2020 by the label Brilliant Classics. The score is inspired by the famous theme, whose origin is lost in the mists of time and on which have been composed hundreds of versions and variations over the centuries, and testifies to the interest, which can be seen in his latest works, for the elaboration, through completely new compositional processes, of historicized musical material, inserted in completely different contexts.
Another stage of this personal research can be considered the Sinfonia (après Haydn 104), 2019, for orchestra, with which he won the SIAE “Classici di Oggi”, premiered in Bolzano by the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento, director Timothy Redmond. In the Symphony Cardi tries to penetrate the most intimate mechanisms of the Haydnian thought, drawing inspiration for an original work from a historical distance, looking for possible parallels, but above all stylistic and formal clutches and tensions: an entry and exit from the harmonic, timbric and motivic Haydn world, in some way to establish a critical contact, a remote dialogue with the author.

On the occasion of the 55th Festival di Nuova Consonanza, with Miroir, (2018) for six percussionists on two marimbas, Mauro Cardi returns to writing for Ars Ludi, to which a long collaboration binds him, adding another work to the cycle [Games]. The cycle consists for now of three other works: Bazzle! (2013) for piano four hands, QO (2016), for Piccolo Quartet and Toy(Piano) Stories (2020), for Toy Piano and Flute obbligato. The works of the [Games] cycle are dedicated, in various ways, to re-readings of historical musical fragments, to experiment with compositional processes, unusual notations, even with the adoption of customized graphic elements, without excluding a purely playful component in the interaction between performers and between performers and the audience. "The propensity to order a field of action, a grid of rules can be found in the writing of Cardi who, once the rules and the game have been prepared, focuses on focusing on a starting sound idea, defining its contours, bending it to expressive intentionality ". (5)

In 2019 Mauro Cardi returns to musical theater with Il Diario di Eva (GAMO International Festival, Florence), a semi-scenic work for dancer/actress, soprano and ensemble, based on a text freely taken from the homonymous story by Mark Twain. Music, as in previous works, plays on several levels, creating a dramaturgy itself: on the one hand it interprets the Edenic events with the eyes of Eve and on the other tries to read the events from the outside. And the first reflection on the score is linguistic, as well as material, through expressively strong combinations, supporting and interpreting the many facets of the restless and volcanic protagonist. In the work, the character of Eva is doubled, assuming the guise now of the dancer/actress, who uses the Italian translation of the text, now of the soprano, who is entrusted with the original English text.

In 2021, he composed, with a libretto by Guido Barbieri, the one-act, six-chapter opera Le ossa di Cartesio (The Bones of Descartes), for one actor, three singers, and a large ensemble, commissioned by Opera InCanto. It was performed in Terni and Rome for Nuova Consonanza. The protagonist, from the afterlife, recalls the mysteries associated with his death: the alleged poisoning by an envoy of the Pope at the court of Queen Christina of Sweden, and the subsequent disappearance and scattering of his bones throughout Europe. In addition to portraying the refined thinker, the opera brings to light his humanity, emotions, joys, and fears. To echo one of his later writings that inspired the libretto, it reveals his "Passions of the soul." From Descartes' narrative, five other characters emerge, portrayed by the three singers, guiding us through the six "chapters" of the opera. These chapters are marked by quotations from ancient Arias, along with a final Concertato. Between the ancient arias and the music, a play of dissolves and transfigurations unfolds, at times extending the arias into the score with a musical fragment or melodic figure, other times intervening on the arias themselves, creating a suspension of the original harmonic references. However, "Le ossa di Cartesio" is also an opera about the beauty of speculative reasoning, the "method," and symmetries. It visually unfolds along the trajectories and intersections between passions, inscribed in the Cartesian plane.

In 2023, Mauro Cardi, along with Edison Studio, added a new piece to the list of works dedicated to the resounding of silent films, tackling one of the absolute masterpieces: Metropolis by Fritz Lang, a film from 1927. The composition, written and performed by the Edison Studio Collective (Mauro Cardi, Luigi Ceccarelli, Alessandro Cipriani, Vincenzo Core, and Andrea Veneri), was commissioned by Milano Musica and the Ravenna Festival. Premiered in Milan on May 11, 2023, it was later performed in Ravenna, Rome, and Bisceglie. Fritz Lang's film is presented in its most complete version ever found, the result of a sophisticated restoration by the Alpha-Omega Digital GmbH laboratory in Munich, completed in 2010. Considered a symbol of expressionist cinema, "Metropolis" is universally recognized as a model for much of modern science fiction cinema.
In Edison Studio's composition, vocal sounds, instrumental sounds, mechanical and electronic sounds, and ambient sounds interact. These sounds are created ad hoc but also drawn from sources borrowed from nature and the history of music. Bringing acoustic, traditional and non-traditional instruments, objects, and computer instruments onto the stage, they are orchestrated and transformed live using the potential offered by new technologies and the sound diffusion techniques of contemporary cinema soundtracks.
The rhythm of the images becomes musical in turn, reinventing audiovisual time and highlighting spaces and times that would otherwise remain hidden. The soundtrack is thus understood as a whole, where even extra-musical materials, those that could be reductively defined as sound effects, are an integral part of the music.

In 2023, Mauro Cardi composed his fourth musical theater piece: Non parlate di me - Vita, morte e sogni di Marilyn Monroe (Don't Speak About Me - Life, Death, and Dreams of Marilyn Monroe). It is a one-act opera with six scenes, featuring a libretto by Paolo Carradori. The composition is designed for soprano, actress, voiceover, and ensemble. This portrayal of Marilyn Monroe is unexpected and unfamiliar, presenting a curious, sensitive, fragile, and poetic side of her, immersed in the reality of the Hollywood industry that sought to portray her as sexy, bubbly, polished, and happy. The words, both Marilyn's and those of the world surrounding her, construct an emotionally engaging web in close dialectical and creative relationship with the sounds. This web unfolds a story where beauty, talent, and success are transfigured into tragedy. "Non parlate di me" offers an audacious reinterpretation, free from stereotypes and clichés, of the human and professional experiences of an absolute icon, the world's most desired woman who tragically died alone at the age of thirty-six (Paolo Carradori).
The opera premiered in Florence on December 16, 2023, at Teatro Le Murate, as part of GIF, GAMO International Festival. The performance was conducted by Francesco Gesualdi and directed by Barbara Roganti, featuring the Gamo ensemble.

Since 2021, Mauro Cardi has been a member of the board of Nuova Consonanza, of which he was President from 1999 to 2001. He is a founding member of the Testaccio School of Music and has taught Composition at the Conservatories of L'Aquila and Florence, as well as at the "Santa Cecilia" Conservatory in Rome since 2021. He conducts seminars and workshops on Composition and Composition for visuals both in Italy and abroad.

His works are published by Ricordi, RAI Trade, Curci, Edipan, Ut Orpheus, Semar, Sconfinarte, Sinfonica, Taukay, and recorded on labels such as Ricordi, RCA, BMG Ariola, Nuova Fonit Cetra, RAI Trade, Edipan, Stradivarius, Brilliant, Adda Records, Happy New Ears, Il manifesto, CNI, Taukay.

(1) Enciclopedia della Musica, Milan, Garzanti, 1996
(2) Ornella Rota, “L’alternanza di giochi e regole”, in “Suono”, N° 370
(3) Luca Conti, “Mauro Cardi: l’artigianato del comporre”, in “Idea”, Anno XXVI, N.6-7
(4) Marco Maria Gazzano (a cura di), “Edison Studio. Il Silent Film e l'Elettronica in Relazione Intermediale”, Roma, Exorma, 2014, ISBN 978-88-95688-89-3.
(5) Renzo Cresti, “Mauro Cardi, scrittura e artigianato”, in “Musica Presente”, Lucca, LIM Editore, 2019, ISBN 978-88-5543-001-2

Bibliography and main external links:

Casa Ricordi
Catalogo Casa Ricordi
Archivi Casa Ricordi
AA.VV., Dizionario Enciclopedico della Musica e dei Musicisti, diretto da Alberto Basso, volume Appendice; Utet, Torino, 1990, ISBN 88-02-04396-5, p.14
AA.VV., Dizionario Enciclopedico della Musica e dei Musicisti, diretto da Alberto Basso, volume Appendice 2005; Utet, Torino, 2004, ISBN 88-02-06216-1, p.105
AA.VV., Enciclopedia della musica Garzanti, Milano, 1996, ISBN 88-11-50467-8, p.141
AA.VV., International Who's who in Music, 12.a ed.1990; AAVV., consultant editor David Cummings, IBC Cambridge, ISBN 0-948875-20-8, p.120
AA.VV., Enciclopedia della Musica, diretta da Marco Drago e Andrea Boroli, Istituto Geografico De Agostini, Novara, 1995, ISBN 88-415-2055-8, p.184
Renzo Cresti, "Mauro Cardi, Scrittura e artigianato", in "Musica presente. Tendenze e compositori di oggi", LIM, Lucca, 2019, ISBN 978-88-5543-001-2, pp.174-178