The Inability to Create: Donatoni and Cage

In the 1960s, Franco Donatoni came to a compositional impasse, the inability to write, after years spent working to find his voice following his exposure to John Cage’s ideas on silence, indeterminism and his work 4’33’’. Research has shown that Cage embraced Jacques Derrida’s ideas on deconstructionism and further built a paradox in which sound contains silence. In the late 1970s, Donatoni’s music emerged from hyper-determinism and dramatically changed. This paper addresses Donatoni’s aesthetic reaction to Cage’s ideas, a reaction that allowed him to overcome his compositional impasse and give birth to euphoric music.

Going back to Arnold Schoenberg’s radical experiments in 1908 and the possible ideas and philosophies that triggered them, as well as the new reality of the nuclear world and the invention of the transistor, the two periods in Donatoni’s compositional career are analyzed through two distinct works. The analysis starts with Etwas Ruhiger im Ausdruck for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, written in 1967, and continues with a second-period work, Fili for flute and piano, written in 1981, and how Donatoni’s crisis influenced his change in style from one period to another.

FRANCO DONATONI was born in Verona on June 9, 1927. At that time, Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party ruled the Kingdom of Italy, following the March of Rome in October 1922.[1] Donatoni grew up during Italian irredentism, when the national goal was to promote the unification of geographic areas still retained by the Austrian Empire after the War of Independence in 1866.[2]

While Europe was emerging from the ashes of World War II, rediscovering Schoenberg’s second string quartet and becoming accustomed to its place under the new nuclear forces — Russia, the United States, England and France — the 18-year-old Donatoni was in Rome, studying composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, from which he graduated in 1953.[3] The Marshall Plan’s European Recovery Program lifted Europe from 1948 to 1952 under Harry S. Truman, sending a shockwave of reconstruction through England, France and West Germany,[4] which greatly benefited Italy because the United States feared that the country could become communist following the vote to abolish the monarchy and create the Republic.[5] Italy was losing its points of reference, leaving its monarchy and Umberto II in 1946 for a superseded anti-fascist Republic through a constitutional referendum, the same way music written by the lords of the past, with Alexander von Zemlinsky and Richard Strauss, to name a few, would lose its dominance and become compartmentalized in the hands of the radio world, ceding its place to Bussetti and Razzi’s Sanremo Festival, for example, and later on television with the Programma Nazionale and Rai 1’s Canzonissima.[6] A world of popular songs and jazz music would take over and inundate the Western market. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the spread of atonal music, paradoxically, had a lot to do with the new social canvas of communism,[7] which infiltrated Western universities and conservatories, where a new, fashionable music free from the “tonal domination” of late history was flourishing. The atonal ideas and techniques were seen as an ideological collective, as it is still the case today in certain circles, shutting out any tonal compositional gestures. As Trotsky pointed out, regarding futurism, the fact that such art remained confined within a section of the intelligentsia and was unable to find a lasting connection to history and to social life is significant: “It is silly, absurd, stupid to the highest degree, to pretend that art will remain indifferent to the convulsions of our epoch.”[8]

The radio and the emerging music industry would whisk away the towering influence of the giants of the 19th and early 20th centuries, swiftly relegating them to a commercialized, untouchable past.


The transistor is the most important discovery since the Aventur und Kunst, the movable-type printing press in 1450 invented by Johannes Gutenberg.[9] With it, by the late 1950s, radio receivers could airwave faster and much more efficiently, as opposed to vacuum tubes, which were consuming significantly more power and were much slower. The story behind the transistor called for the discovery of the relationship between heat and magnetism, the key element behind the future AC-DC converter (a device used for the conversion of electric energy from one form to another)[10] and the first known use of semiconductor materials in 1874,[11] essential for the working of the transistor (which would eventually replace all vacuum tubes in a radio by the early 1960s).[12] A unified explanation of all the conductivity phenomena later led to the “Hall effect” with the deflection of flowing electrical charges,[13] Alexander Graham Bell’s use of selenium’s light-sensitive properties to transmit sound over a beam of light,[14] Thomson’s discovery of the electron in 1897,[15] Baedeker’s positive charge carrier of copper iodide in 1907,[16] and Weiss’s Halbleiter (semiconductor) in 1910.[17] Later, Davydov established a model of copper-oxide rectifier in 1927,[18] followed by Wilson with the first band theory in 1931.[19]

A few years before World War II, infrared detection and communications devices prompted research into lead-sulfide and lead-selenide materials for infrared detection and industrial quality control.[20] These devices were used for detecting ships and aircraft, infrared rangefinders, and especially for voice communication systems. However, detectors and power rectifiers could not yet fully amplify a signal until 1947, when the development of a device called the point-contact transistor could amplify 20 decibels or more (i.e., broadcast the signal over a longer range).[21] It is in France, during World War II, that Mataré had observed an amplification between adjacent point-contacts on a germanium base.[22] The “transistron” was born, later eclipsed by the Bell “transistor.” The device, industrialized by Raytheon in the 1950s,[23] later contributed to the development of the “manufacturers of culture,” as Baricco would say, who would delimit music’s “market allocation,”[24] segmenting music into spheres such as “classical” and “popular.” Yet Donatoni, like other composers with him and after him, wanted to escape from a strictly commercial conception of music and take into his own hands the fate of a necessary “new music.”

In the meantime, at 84 years old, in 1949, one of the last prominent voices of “the past,” Richard Georg Strauss, was slowly dying in his villa at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, writing in Late Style[25] his Vier letzte Lieder for soprano and orchestra, asking, at the end of Im Abendrot, “Is this perhaps death?”[26] quoting the transfiguration theme from his 1889 tone poem Tod und Verklärung. In early 1945, he would also write in his diary, commenting on his treatment at the hands of the Nazis: “The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve-year reign of bestiality, ignorance, and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany’s 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom.”[27]


Franco Donatoni wrote music influenced by Darmstadt’s International New Music Summer Courses, founded by Wolfgang Steinecke in 1947,[28] which he attended in 1954, 56, 58 and 61.[29] During these years, he was exposed to Pierre Boulez’s uncompromising ideas on modernism at a time when Boulez intended to rewrite the history of modern music to justify his own innovations, fusing the contradiction between Stravinsky and Schoenberg.[30] Darmstadt, on the other hand, taught modern music based on Schoenberg’s 1908 ideas, along with Webern and Varèse. Meanwhile, Stockhausen was teaching music as a set of information in need of a break from the past, whereas John Cage proposed arbitrary chance designs and emphasized indeterminacy in music in his refusal to differentiate musical sounds from either noise or silence, the informal I Ching [31] choosing the composer’s notes.[32]

As war acts on politics in that it has the capacity to reconfigure social relations, the start of the identification processes of those engaged in armed conflicts through creation or mobilization of musical works and practices, the sublimation of suffering prompted by conflicts, Christian von Ehrenfels’ “Gestalt psychology”[33] and the technological advancement of communication are all keys to understanding the reasons behind the need for a new music following World War II. As Neurath and Cohen pointed out, Nazism was the consequence of the “untenable metaphysical philosophies and ideologies upon which Romanticism was founded.”[34] In 1958, the 30-year-old Donatoni, converted to serialism, following the composition of his first string quartet, defined himself from a standpoint of personal withdrawal from the inner logic of the act of writing, embracing negativism and a self-destructive tendency.

Historically, aside from Franz Liszt’s Bagatelle sans tonalité, written in 1885,[35] and Abel Decaux’s Scriabinian Clairs de lune,[36] written between 1900 and 1903, a diachronic enigma is Arnold Schoenberg’s fourth movement of his second string quartet, Op. 10, “Entrückung,”[37] and Drei Klavierstücke, Op. 11,[38] both written in 1908, as to why a subjective exhaustion of the expressive tonal chromaticism — since aesthetic evidence seems to point in that direction — would lead to a harmonic relativism identifiable as “atonalism.”[39] Do Schoenberg’s complaints that “the illegitimacy of a triad chord which claims dominance over all the others”[40] and these two 1908 works constitute a natural reaction to the exhaustion of chromatic harmony, as Webern later pointed out?[41] Or perhaps a revolt against Karl Marx’s 1848 Communist Manifesto?[42] The Kishinev pogroms between 1903 and 1906?[43] The San Francisco earthquake of April 1906?[44] Mathilde Schoenberg’s affair with Richard Gerstl in 1908 (probable)?[45]

This introduction seeks to understand what happened with Arnold Schoenberg in 1908 with Opus 10 and 11 (and also its suspicious success), works made of a reconfigured harmony with Brahmsian rhythms and counterpoint. Those two compositions signaled a cosmic shift in music and in the culture of the Western world with the same immediacy as when the V-2 Aggregat 4 MW-18014 long-range ballistic missile reached the limits of outer space in June 1944.[46] These two compositions begat Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Wolfgang Steinecke and Darmstadt’s International New Music Summer Courses which changed the world in the same way as when Magister Perotinus Magnus’ independent melismatic contrasted duplum introduced the paradigmatic third dimension in music around 1160, 748 years earlier.[47]

Swain notes that “the dictum that every composer must create an individual style to establish credentials as Artist is so widely taken for granted in the modern world that it is worth emphasizing how recently the Western community has demanded this kind of originality.”[48] Nietzsche’s criticism of modernism established a striking parallel between the shift to atonalism and the Dionysian experience of looking into the abyss: “Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun?”[49]

What Schoenberg did was the first radical experiment of atonal music in history. It overwhelmed the listening parameters and redesigned the tonal music geometries. For the first time ever, as Thomson noted, a composer could be the supreme author of his own structural grammar, “making up the rules as we go.”[50]

But why did this first radical experiment take place to begin with? Why such a compositional methodology, replacing tonality with a new system of Schoenberg’s own making? Because of the need for a logical analysis of language following the growing globalization of communications, new socio-economic developments (the influence of the American economic and cultural hegemony in post-World War II Europe) and the unification of science going beyond metaphysics, in which statements and conclusions would remain clearer, universal and more accessible. Because Schoenberg asserted that “the logic of the artwork embodies and expresses its own value, defining a structural listening as a concrete attempt of unfolding logic which could vouch for the value of the music itself.”[51] Schoenberg would comment, saying: “The appreciation of art is accessible only to those whose artistic and ethical culture is on a high level.”[52] His apparent confusion regarding musical expression allowed him to convey atonal musical ideas which were able to embrace atonalism, in that, as Goehr discovered, quoting Schoenberg, a “germinal conception of a musical work is indescribable in language.”[53] He conceived music as a form of “logic” that is subject to constraints imposed by the laws of sound (“the requirements of the material”), and the laws of cognition (“the demands of the subject”).[54]

It was Gottlob Frege (1848–1925) in his Begriffsschrift of 1879,[55] who may have triggered Schoenberg’s experience of atonal music, along with the early writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951).[56] The generativity of language was redesigned in its communicative function: Wittgenstein’s symbolic conception of logic replaced Aristotelian syllogistics,[57] rewritten in symbolic form, in order to algebraize the syllogistic logic.[58] In Platonic realism, a structure exists with its properties independent of any systems that have that aforementioned structure. In Aristotelian realism, a structure exists and is ontologically posterior to the system that instantiates it. Frege’s intentions were an axiomatized logic “purified” from clericalism (any reference to a supreme moral superiority) and empiricism (where any knowledge comes first from sensory experience), which would redefine the complex relationships between the signified and the signifier. To that end, he adopted a functional-theoretical syntax and conceived logic as a language.

Both music and language show evidence of a hierarchical syntactic structure. But atonal music seeks to nullify the natural attractiveness of the dominant chord, giving rise to a music “purified” from any moral superiority and sensory experience (in reference to the historically informed past). Through an algebraized syntactic structure in which, like Marx’s Communist Manifesto, every note ceases to be compatible with the developing forces of the tonal harmony’s attractive poles, each note will have to destroy all ownership of harmonic property before dissolving into the collective.

Schoenberg may not have read Frege’s Begriffsschrift, but he felt its strong influence inside the Wiener Kreis, the “Vienna Circle,” led by Moritz Schlick[59] at the University of Vienna’s Mathematical Seminar, which he frequented.[60] The Circle’s principles of logical positivism have had an enormous influence on Schoenberg’s analytical approach. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus came with the possibility of a theoretically “principled distinction” of an intelligible discourse compared to a nonsensical one, the “verifiability principle,”[61] placing the analysis of language at the center of philosophy, calling for the rise of what would become the Logical Positivism movement.[62] “To understand a proposition is to know the outcome when it is true (it can therefore be understood without knowing if it is true).”[63] The Vienna Circle wanted to synthesize Ernst Mach’s empiricism with Wittgenstein’s new logical methods in the Tractatus. However, Mach’s empiricism condemned the new atomic theories for being unverifiable,[64] later nullifying itself and the entire Positivist movement in 1945 over the success of the first atomic essay at the Trinity Site in central New Mexico on July 16 during the Manhattan Project.[65]

This original neo-Kantian proposition, which constitutes a critique of language, was a key factor for Schoenberg regarding the relationship in formalism between theoretical music and mathematical modeling in music analysis. Schoenberg was looking for an epistemological shift from the triad chord dominance with the help of a new “universal” (stable immutable law) in his quest for harmonic relativism. Schoenberg would then rebuke Hugo Riemann’s Grundlageforschung (“foundational research”) hierarchy of the sonance as a universal[66] and replace it with new standards such as the “emancipation of the dissonance,” the equal status for consonance and dissonance, and the liberation of the dissonance from obligatory resolution to consonance, calling upon Protagorus of Abdera’s sophistic revolt against absolute standards, 2,319 years ago.[67]

Wittgenstein imagined a conceptual framework that reduces language to its formal logical essentials, a prescription of the proper usage of language in order to circumscribe the limits within which things can, and cannot, be legitimately described and “said,” despite Kantian Proposition 6.421: “It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed. Ethics is transcendental. (Ethics and aesthetics are one.)”[68]

He proclaimed the aesthetic limits of discourse with all ethics and aesthetics pointing to the facts, drawing attention to things. Facts, for Schoenberg, were the liberation of dissonance from obligatory resolution to consonance, the chord complementarity where the second chord “receives” what is missing in the first, and the sovereignty of the series which provides for harmonic coherence. Words now name things from the world of experience, and the relationships between them are organized in a propositional grammar,[69] an “entelechy” — a being in itself, having its own end and perfection, where “rhythm and harmonies created by visual forms and colors”[70] are emancipated, comments Kandinsky.

Equating Schoenberg’s writing technique to the logical tools of positivism[71] seems to make sense as the “elementary propositions” of a row, in a serial standpoint, like the “protocol sentences” of an inevitable axiomatic proposition, are an empiricism that seeks to reconstruct science (tonality), even if it was later proven wrong, considering a single pitch as an irreducible unit of sensory data. It is precisely a “Machian empiricism,”[72] if such an adjectivization is possible, reconstructing music and its philosophy inside a system of logically inevitable propositions (the “protocol sentences” of what would become serialism). When Schoenberg joined the Wiener Kreis in 1922,[73] the last adjustments of his dodecaphonic enterprise were already well advanced. He would reposition the coding of the musical expression, where the structured pitches would obey the laws of a series, where the Grundgestalt (“basic shape”) would become a twelve-tone row inside “developing variations.”[74] The question of language-directionality and gestural-signifier[75] would compose the grammar of the meaning, a syntax of the foundation of the sound expression. “If the idea is expressed in language and follows its rules, as well as the general rules of thought, then the expression of the musical idea is possible in only one way, through tones; and the idea obeys the rules of tones as well as corresponding approximately to the rules of thought,”[76] said Schoenberg.


A later comparison between Schoenberg and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch (the “overman”) is found in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus when the demon-possessed character Adrian Leverkühn, based on Nietzsche, attains fame for inventing twelve-tone music.[77] This diabolical comparison by such an acclaimed author constitutes a social refusal of the radical musical agenda of this new norm. The capacity to hear and tolerate an environment of sounds that did not exist before World War I was inconceivable, as if physical death itself had found a way into music because music was now confronted with a present that was no longer recognizable, a present in a nuclear world in which the scream of expressionism had fossilized in Auschwitz. Adorno would comment in what became a critical standard in history: “… it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living — especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed, may go on living. His mere survival calls for the coldness, the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity, without which there could have been no Auschwitz; this is the drastic guilt of him who was spared. By way of atonement he will be plagued by dreams such as that he is no longer living at all, that he was sent to the ovens in 1944 and his whole existence since has been imaginary, an emanation of the insane wish of a man killed twenty years earlier.”[78]

Western music would have to be reconsidered and revisited around a commonly acknowledged pessimism and difficult social changes in a new nuclear world. Hitler destroyed Germany’s cultural identity, Pétain destroyed France’s, and Mussolini Italy’s. The war years shaped a new music in exile in reinterpreting its relations with the traditions of the Late Style.[79] The musical experimentations of a new generation, with the help of technology and Communist trends, would be hell-bent on winning in an imaginary court, like Cage’s 4’33’’ seven years later.

Thus, following the death of Richard Strauss in 1949, i.e., following the disappearance of the last major figure tied to a historical point of reference, the war years would become a new past glorified by the now possible recordings of Wagner’s operas, Debussy and Ravel, and Stravinsky’ Sacre. In the United States, the New World who saved Europe, Perry Como, Doris Day and Elvis Presley would take over the new television phenomenon, while “serious” music over the coming years would have to consider seven inevitable realities, new points of reference, from 1908 to 2001:

  1. Arnold Schoenberg;
  2. Adolf Hitler and Auschwitz;
  3. The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima[80] and Nagasaki;[81]
  4. John Cage’s 4’33”;
  5. The Cuban missile crisis[82] and the Second Vatican Council;[83]
  6. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey;[84]
  7. The 9/11 attacks.[85]

Franco Donatoni brilliantly competed with, overcame and answered the first six — yet the most difficult reality was himself, pointed out in his Wagnerian credo: “Composing is the place of a ritual in which the sacrifice of the artist redeems man.”[86]

In October 28, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis imprinted in the mind of everyone then an inescapable nuclear deterrent incapsulated in the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine within the National Security Policy of the United States of America.[87] The fact that a weaker force could deter a more powerful one by virtue of the weapons’ nuclear power in place on both sides, is a dissuasion strategy that forever changed the balance of international politics, a draw and a win for conventional arms race. The impact on music was to push for new limits. A year earlier, Penderecki’s eight-minute long Victims of Hiroshima: Threnody, for 52 stringed instruments[88] acted as a screaming prophecy on the future use of such weapons. The fear of death became a fear of surviving, an inverted harmony, as if the past found in the Late Style had mutated into something seemingly outlawed. Boulez would later point out, in 1971, that “all the art of the past must be destroyed,”[89] “cutting the umbilical cord attaching the public to the past.”[90]

In the United States, the anti-war militant youth of the 1960s was furrowing across alienation and rebellion up to the “Flower Power”[91] and the spreading of American idealism against Communism. A strange sense of new possibilities emerged where anger was taught to be accepted. The failing of the Bay of Pigs invasion[92] discredited Kennedy and confirmed the Cold War rhetoric.[93] The nuclear war came close to one second from occurring, as if Cage’s 4’33’’ anticipated its happening ten years earlier. John Fogerty’s demented voice would push his Fortunate Son[94] and guide a nationwide protest against the future occupation of Vietnam, with Jim Morrison’s This Is the End [95] and the ultimate Coppola’s war cinematic poetry monument of Apocalypse Now.[96]

In Rome, among hundreds of questionable decisions in the eyes of Tradition, out-maneuvering the conservative majority at the beginning of the Vatican II Council in February 1962, Pope John XXIII’s preparatory commission officially discarded the already planned condemnation of Marxism and Communism[97] for a mild heterodox criticism of atheism with Gaudium et Spes.[98] What shocked the Catholic world then, i.e., the Communist conception of man, became an imprint in the fabric of contemporary music in the West, already introduced by Schoenberg in 1908. The upholders of the moral authority offered the historical demise of the Gregorian tradition on an official silver platter to the architects of an anti-Catholic liturgical and aesthetic dissolution. In the eyes of music and Tradition, as with Schoenberg earlier, God had effectively died.

Thirty-six years later, Donatoni suffered from a cerebrovascular lesion at the left hemisphere, and in 1998 from a left hemispheric stroke with secondary mild right hemiparesis and mild expressive language deficit. In August 2000, he passed away, victim of a fatal second cerebral stroke.[99]

A year later, the 9/11 attacks officially turned the page on the 20th century and its proverbial schools of thoughts. Apart from the remains of the avant-garde institutions who still continue to refuse any Late Style music, the musical world would witness a general dissolution of yesteryears’ academic schools of thoughts and a push toward provocation, hatred and an abstruse sexualized worship inside popular music. There would be no think-tanks anymore, but a very interesting collective effort of educating the changing classical public toward a general acceptance of the major figures of the new past, with American figures now enjoying the same aura of intellectual respectability than their European counterparts. Steve Reich would write WTC 9/11 for recorded voice and string quartet, John Corigliano’s One Sweet Morning for orchestra, John Adams’ On The Transmigration of Souls for orchestra, choir and tape, Robert Moran’s Trinity Requiem, to name a few.

Who can now be a “representant” of something? Is Schopenhauer’s text, a long time ago, an answer: “Music is the highest art because it bores the least relation to the everyday world of appearances”[100]? There must be a relation, but to what? God has been dead for over a century. The answer is Jacques Derrida’s deconstructionism[101] and the twisted fabric of a New World Order.[102]

[1] Gentile, Emilio (2012): E fu subito regime. Il fascismo e la Marcia su Roma. Bari, Laterza Editori.

[2] Rossi, Angelo (1968): The Rise of Italian Fascism, 1918-1922. Howard Fertig, 1st Edition, p. 47. Charles Upson Clark (1917): Italy’s Claim to Istria. The New York Times, December 21, 1917 – online at

[3] Enzo Restagno (1990): Un autobiografia dell’autore raccontata da Enzo Restagno. “Franco Donatoni,” Torino, EDT Musica, pp. 57-58.

[4] United States of America, 80th Congress, 2nd session, Chapter 169 (April 3, 1948), online at

[5] Baget Bozzo, Gianni (1974): Il partito cristiano al potere. La DC di De Gasperi et di Dossetti 1945-54. Firenze, Vallecchi.

[6] RaiUno (1997): Festival di Sanremo, La Storia: 1951-60. RaiUno archivio, 2008.

[7] The Communist conception of man is founded on sociology and not on theology. Man has value only because he is an instrument of the collective interest. This collective is not the sum of individual interests but a redefinition of man: his innate rights cannot conflict with those within the collective interest, which is the only absolute, and which does not tolerate any individualism. Such superior end of the collective interest is paramount and can justify the destruction of individuals for the sake of the collective, an ideology over man — in Hodge, Bodie; Patterson, Roger (2016): World Religions and Cults, Vol. 3: Atheistic and Humanistic Religions. Green Forest, Master Books, p. 121.

[8]   Trotsky, Leon (1923): Literature and Revolution. Pickle Partners Publishing, 2018, p. 9.

[9]   Eisenstein, E.L. (1980): The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

[10] In 1823, Thomas Johann Seebeck (1770-1831) found that a circuit made from two dissimilar metals at different temperatures can deflect a compass magnet. Due to the previous discovery by Hans Christian Oersted of the defluxion produced by an electric current (the relationship between electricity and magnetism), Seebeck’s results became known as a “thermoelectric effect,” the conversion of temperature differences essential for the creation of “voltage,” the electric potential ratio per unit of charge between two points, in — Goupil, Christophe (2016): Continuum Theory and Modeling of Thermoelectric Elements. Paris, Université Diderot PIERI, Wiley & Sons, p. 2.

[11] A semiconductor is a chemical compound, such as silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide or cadmium selenide, which possesses a natural electrical conductivity value and an insulator — in Bok, Julien (1985): Semiconducteurs. Paris, Encyclopædia Universalis, Vol. XVI, p. 699.

[12] Vacuum tubes are made of two or more electrodes (diode, triode) in a vacuum inside a glass tube — in Thrower, Keith R. (1994): History of the British Radio Valve to 1940. Ropley Hants: MMA International Ltd.

[13] Edwin Hall (1855-1938) discovered the semiconductor’s unidirectionality in 1879. When the electric current flowing in one direction is perpendicular to a magnetic field, a voltage level is measurable at right angle to the current’s path. A sensor could therefore be built for current sensing applications, such as positioning and speed detection — in Hurd, Colin M. (1972): The Hall Effect in Metals and Alloys. New York, Plenum Press, p. 6.

[14] The photophone allowed the wireless transmission of speech on modulated light instead of the modulated electricity of the telephone’s conductive wire circuit — in Bell, Alexander Graham (1880): On the Production and Reproduction of Speech by Light. Missouri Botanical Garden Library, American Journal of Science, October 1880, Vol. XX, № 118, p. 305.

[15] Through his explorations on the properties of cathode rays (the stream of particles observed in vacuum tubes), Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940) proposed a subatomic particle, later called “electron,” as constant in the appreciation of the atom’s dimension — in Thomson, J.J. (1901): On Bodies Smaller than Atoms. Bonnier Corp., The Popular Science Monthly. August 1901, p. 323.

[16] Karl Baedeker (1877-1914) theorized that copper iodide had positive charge carriers, which would later lead to the conduction of electron holes in semiconductors and the first transparent conducting oxide — in Yacobi, B.G. (2003): Semiconductor Materials. An introduction to Basic Principles. New York, Springer.

[17] Weiss first introduced the term in his Ph.D. dissertation in 1910 — in Joseph Weiss (1910): Experimentelle Beiträge zur Elecktronentheorie aus dem Gebiet der Thermoelektriziatät. Albert-Ludwigs Universität, Freiburg.

[18] Boris Davydov (1884-1925) proposed a model of rectification in copper oxide on p-n junctions (boundaries between p-type and n-type semiconductor materials) with adjacent layers of excess and deficit semiconductor due to an excess or deficit of copper relative to oxygen in the crystal lattice. Electrons and holes could survive in each other’s presence before recombining — in Cor L. Claeys, editor (1999): Electrochemical Society Proceedings, Vol. XCIX, № 18, p. 21.

[19] Sir Alan Herries Wilson (1906-1995) developed the band theory of solids (the large gap between the energies of the valence electrons and the energy at which they move freely through the material) and confirmed that the conductivity of inorganic semiconductors was due to impurities (i.e., the fact of the extra electrons they provide in being deliberately introduced, or “doping”) — in Ostroverkhova, Oksana (2018): Handbook of Organic Materials for Electronic and Photonic Devices. Cambridge, Woodhead Publishing, p. 349.

[20] Kittel, Charles (2004): Introduction to Solid State Physics, 8th Edition. New York, Wiley & Sons.

[21] Bardeen, J.; Brattain, W.H. (1948): The Transistor, A Semiconductor Triode. Physical Review, American Physical Society, July 1948, № 74, p. 230.

[22] Schreiber, Hermann. (1956): Techniques et applications des transistors. Paris, Société des éditions radio, 1959.

[23] Goldstein, Harry (2003): The Irresistible Transistor, Spectrum Magazine № 40, online at

[24] Baricco, Alessandro (1992): L’anima di Hegel e le mucche del Wisconsin, una riflessione su musica colta e modernità. Milano, Garzanti s.r.l., p. 7.

[25] The “Late Style,” in Adorno’s Spätstil Beethovens (Adorno, Theodor (1937): Late Style in Beethoven, in Essays on Music. Translated from German by Susan H. Gillespie. University of California Press, p. 564), is a modern culture’s historical event in which the artist fully in control of his medium cuts himself off from his milieu and achieves a contradictory, alienated relationship with it. Said concludes: “The Late Style is what happens if art does not abdicate its rights in favor of reality” in Said, Edward W. (2006): On Late Style: Music and literature against the grain. New York, Vintage Books, p. 9. Therefore, as Hutcheon later points out, “individual late-style discussions become an inevitable part of the reception process” — in Hutcheon, L., M., Historicizing Late Style. In McMullan, G., Smiles, S. (2016): Late Style and Its Discontents. Essays in Art, Literature and Music. Oxford University Press, p. 52.

[26] Schuh, Willi (1950): Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs.” Tempo № 15, Cambridge University Press, p. 26.

[27] Corngold, Stanley (2013): On Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen. Program note for Strauss’s Metamorphosen, arranged for string septet by Rudolf Leopold. Yellow Barn’s performance. Putney, VT, August 3, 2013.

[28] Nono, Luigi (1962): In memoriam Wolfgang Steinecke, in Écrits. Geneva, Contrechamps, p. 122.

[29] Avantaggiato, Massimo (2014): Donatoni: a critical re-appraisal of Quartetto III. Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference, Electroacoustic Music Beyond Performance. Berlin, June 2014, p. 2.

[30] Stravinsky revitalized rhythm, Schoenberg reconfigured harmony. As Schiff observed: “Boulez [would] hurl Stravinskian rhythms at Schoenbergian harmonies, smashing the musical atom” — in Schiff, David (1995): Unreconstructed Modernist. The Atlantic, September 1995.

[31] Cleary, Thomas (1992): I Ching: The Book of Change. Boston, Shambhala Pocket Classics.

[32] The I Ching is a Chinese text used as a symbol system to identify order in chance events. For John Cage, it was a tool to write “chance-controlled music” using the I Ching’s 64 hexagrams. The decision process was to decide which sound event to choose from sound and density charts and nested proportions with proportional notation — in Kostelanetz, Richard (1987): Conversing with Cage. New York, Routledge, p. 68.

[33] Ehrenfels’ theory of form gives a signified structure to a system, resulting in a structured form. Looking at the stars is a visual stimulation that is easily organizable, e.g., into a constellation — the whole is different from the sum of its parts. Forms are transposable configurations through a plurality of situations — in Fisette, D., Fréchette, G. (2007): À l’école de Brentano, de Würzburg à Vienne. Paris, Brin, Collection Textes philosophiques, p. 82; and von Bertalanffy, Ludwig (1968): Théorie Générale des systèmes. Translated by Jean-Benoist Chabrol. Paris, Dunod (1973), Collection Idem.

[34] Neurath, M., Cohen, R. S., (1974): Otto Neurath: Empiricism and Sociology. Instructional Science, Vol. 3, №. 2, p. 201.

[35] The fourth Mephisto Waltz, “Bagatelle ohne Tonart,” hyper-chromatic and “omnitonic”— in Fétis, François-Joseph (1832): Traité d’harmonie, Vol IV, which foresaw the division of the octave into twelve equal semitones and the dissolution of the scale; in Neubauer, John (2017): The Persistence of Voice: Instrumental Music and Romantic Orality. National Cultivation of Culture. Leyde, Brill, p. 175. Built around a G# diminished chord, the piece is devoid of any tonal center.

[36] Paris, Éditions S. Chapelier, 1913, S.C.118-121.

[37] “Rapture” — Universal Edition, Wien, Study Score Series, UE № 3554300.

[38]  Universal Edition, Wien, 1910, UE № 2992.

[39]  Schaeffer, Pierre (1952): À la recherche d’une musique concrète. Paris, Seuil, p. 130.

[40] Schoenberg, Arnold (1910): Fonctions structurelles de l’harmonie, supplément au Traité d’Harmonie, édition révisée. Translation and commentaries by Bernard Floirat, Paris, Delatour France, p. 240.

[41] Webern, Anton (1932-33): Der Weg zur Neue Musik. Translated from German into French: Chemins vers la nouvelle musique. Paris, J.-C. Lattès, 1980.

[42] Winock, Michel (1992): Le socialisme en France et en Europe, XIXe-XXe siècle. Paris, Seuil, p. 45.

[43] Minczelesk, Henri (1999): Histoire générale du Bund, un mouvement révolutionnaire juif. Paris, Denoël, p. 95.

[44] The New York Times, April 6, 1906 – online at

[45] Stuckenschmidt, Hans Heinz (1993): Arnold Schoenberg, Étude de l’œuvre. Translated by Alain Poirier. Paris, Fayard, p. 93.

[46] Neufeld, Micheal J. (1994): The Rocket and the Reich. Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York, The Free Press, p. 160.

[47] Waite, W.G. (1973): The rhythm of twelfth-century polyphony, its theory and practice. Greenwood Press, p. 106.

[48] Swain, Joseph P. (1997): Musical Languages. New York, Norton & Co., p. 121.

[49] The Parable of the Madman in Nietzsche, Friedrich (1882): Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. Translated by Walter Kaufmann: The Gay Science. New York, Vintage, 1974, Par. 125, p. 181.

[50] Thomson, William (1991): Schoenberg’s Error. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, p. 118.

[51] Rosengard Subotnik, Rose (1996): Deconstructive Variations. London, University of Minnesota Press, p. 95.

[52] Schoenberg, Arnold (1950-51): Le style et l’idée. Translated by Christiane de Lisle. Paris, Buchet-Chastel, 1994, p. 369.

[53] Goehr, Alexander (1985): Schoenberg and Karl Kraus: The Idea behind the Music. Music Analysis, Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Special Issue: King’s College London Music Analysis Conference 1984 (Mar. – Jul., 1985), pp. 59-71.

[54] Lerdahl, Fred (1988): Generative Processes in Music: The Psychology of Performance, Improvisation, and Composition. Oxford, Clarendon Press, pp. 231–59.

[55] Frege, Gottlob (1879): Begriffsschrift, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens. Translated by J.L. Austin: The Foundations of Arithmetic. A logico-mathematical enquiry into the concept of number. London, Basil Blackwell, 1950.

[56] Especially with the Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung (1914). Translated by Gilles Gaston Granger (1972): Tractatus logico-philosophicus. Paris, Gallimard, collection Tel, 1993.

[57] All musicians are tall. All tall people have back problems. Thus, all musicians have back problems. Any demonstration must be prior to the conclusion. Aristotle maintained that scientific knowledge is not possible only by demonstration from any premises scientifically known, as in the above-mentioned example. Instead, there is another form of knowledge possible for the first premise which provides the starting points for any demonstrations.

[58] Abeles, F.F., Fuller, M.E. (2016): Modern Logic 1850-1950, East and West. Switzerland, Birkhäuser, p. 13.

[59] The “Empirical observational sentences” of Friedrich Albert Moritz Schlick (1882–1936), Empirische Beobachtungssätz, stipulated, among other things, that one’s own experience is not certain, but that “consciousness is ultimately determinative for empirical claims,” showing that Schoenberg’s conscience could no longer draw from the tonal perspective and that an empirical claim toward a theoretical-analytical conception in which the words name things from the world of experience, and the relationships between them can be organized in a propositional grammar, would be acceptable. The form would be an a priori based on the rules of language — in Livingston, Paul M. (2004): Philosophical History and the Problem of Consciousness. Cambridge University Press, p. 219.

Schlick’s critique of Emmanuel Kant’s symmetrical propositions on space and time, based on Albert Einstein’s new theory of relativity, gave Schoenberg a point of interpretation to criticize the immutability of the tonal architecture. As Schlick thought that Kant sought to make Newtonian mechanics an absolute truth by means of the transcendental forms of intuition and understanding, Einstein’s physical states of space and time were methods from the empirical natural sciences, i.e., synthetic a posteriori propositions, contrary to the a priori propositions of Newton as thought by Kant. Harmony was not immutable, but a collection of a posterioris, an understanding which became a realistic criticism.

[60] Feigl, Herbert (1968): The Wiener Kreis in America. Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Perspectives in American History, Vol II: Harvard University Press, pp. 630-673; and Harrison, Thomas (1910): The Emancipation of Dissonance, University of California Press (1996), p. 68.

[61] Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1914), Propositions 3.1 and 4.25, pp. 41, 64.

[62] Kraft, Victor (1953): The Vienna Circle. The Origin of Neo-Positivism. New York, Philosophical Library, p. 24.

[63] Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1914), Proposition 4.024, p. 53.

[64] Laudan, Larry (1981): Science and Hypothesis. Dordrecht, Springer, p. 202.

[65] Kennedy, David M. (1999): Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. New York, Oxford University Press, p. 658.

[66] The “foundational research” was to investigate and formulate the natural laws for musical composition in coherent rules — in Riemann, Hugo (1899): L’Esthétique musicale. Translated by Georges Humbert. Paris, Félix Alcan (1906).

[67] Protagorus of Abdera (481-411 B.C.): A pre-Socratic agnostic who already considered man as being “the measure of all things,” and taught that any discourse can give birth to any being. His revolt against any absolute was detailed in Eusebius of Caesarea’s critic in which Protagoras’ atheistic subjectivism was an attack on the Gospel; with Heracleitus of Ephesus’ (544-483 B.C.) doctrine of flux (referred to by Plato’s Cratylus, 402a), which stipulates that any universal flux and any identity of opposites (“transformational equivalent”) entail a denial of the “principle of non-contradiction” (that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense and at the same time): “Heracleitus, I believe, says that all things go and nothing stays, and comparing existence to the flow of a river, he says you could not step twice into the same river.” It is the fact that the waters are always changing that there are rivers at all, pointing to this other fact that some changing things make possible the continued existence of other things, nurturing a future postmodern outlook in epistemology — in Eusebius of Caesarea (Eusebius Pamphili) (314): La Préparation évangélique, Livres XIV-XV, in Le Boulluec, Alain (1989): Revue de l’histoire des religions № 206-3. Paris, Presse universitaire de France, pp. 313-14; and Cassin, Barbara (2015): La rhétorique au miroir de la philosophie. Paris, Vrin, collection Histoire de la philosophie, pp. 69-91.

[68] Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1914), p. 110. For both Kant and Wittgenstein, ethics is transcendental. For Kant, the will must not be constrained by the deterministic clinch of natural law that apply to the physical world. Moral choices must be made independently from the grip of nature.

[69] Goehr, Alexander (1985): Schoenberg and Karl Kraus: The Idea Behind the Music. Music Analysis 4:1/2, pp. 59-71.

[70] Kandinsky, Wassily (1910): Du spirituel dans l’art et dans la peinture en particulier. Translated from Russian by Philippe Sers (1989). Paris, Denöel, p. 112.

[71] Yourgrau, Palle (2005): A World Without Time. The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein. Cambridge MA, Basic Books, pp. 54-55.

[72] Ernst Mach (1883): Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung. Historisch-kritisch dargestellt, 1904. Translated by Émile Bertrand: La mécanique. Exposé historique et critique de son développement. Paris, Hermann, 1987.

[73] Gillman, Abigail (2009): Viennese Jewish Modernism: Freud, Hofmannsthal, Beer-Hofmann and Schnitzler. Pennsylvania State University, p. 2.

[74] Schoenberg, Arnold (1950): Le Style et l’idée. A collection of texts by L. Stein and D. Cohen-Levinas. Translated by C. de Lisle. Paris, Buchet-Chastel, Collection Musique, 2011, p. 94.

[75] Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1987): Musicologie générale et sémiologie. Paris, Christian Bourgois.

[76] Rufer,Josef (1962): The Works of Arnold Schoenberg: a Catalogue of His Compositions, Writings and Paintings. Translated by Dika Newlin. London, Faber. In Gedanke Manuscript. Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Vol. II, № 1, 1977, pp. 4-25.

[77] Mann, Thomas (1947): Le Docteur Faustus. Translated by L. Servicen. Paris, Albin Michel, 1950.

[78] Adorno, Theodor W. (1966): Negative Dialektik. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. Translated by E.B. Ashton. London, Routledge, pp. 362-63.

[79] Said, Edward W. (2006): On Late Style: Music and literature against the grain. Op. Cit., p. 9.

[80] On August 6, 1945 — in Hewlett, R.G.; Anderson, O.E. (1962): The New World, 1939-1946. A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Pennsylvania State University Press, p. xi.

[81] On August 9, 1945 — in Hewlett, R.G.; Anderson, O.E. (1962): The New World, 1939-1946. A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Ibid, p. 406.

[82] Kennedy, Robert F. (1969): Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York, W.W. Norton & Co.

[83] Amerio, Romano (1985): Iota Unum. Étude des variations de l’Église catholique au XXe siècle. Paris, Nouvelles éditions latines.

[84] Patterson, David W. (2004): Music, Structure and Metaphor in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” American Music, Vol. 22, № 3, p. 444.

[85] The riddled dawn of the 21st century saw “the mute astonishment of an impromptu disaster” — in Imbert, Claude, Le Point № 1516, p. 3. The cosmos of the Western truth of yesteryear had been raped. Donatoni had passed away a year earlier.

[86] Hewett, Ivan (2000): Franco Donatoni. London, The Guardian, Obituaries. August 22, 2000.

[87] Sokolski, Henry D. (2004): Getting Mad: Nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction, Its Origins and Practice. University of Michigan Library, p. 15.

[88] To The Victims of Hiroshima, Threnody for 52 stringed instruments. Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne PWM Edition, Poland, 1960.

[89] Albrecht, Florent (2017): Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), ombres et lumières. Études, 2017, Vol. 5, p. 77.

[90] Boulez, Pierre (1981): Points de repère. Tome II, Regards sur Autrui. Christian Bourgois, 2005.

[91] A passive resistance and non-violence slogan used at the time in opposition to the Vietnam War — in Chattarji, S. (2001): Memories of a Lost War. Oxford, Clarendon Press, p. 42.

[92] Wyden, Peter (1979): Bay of Pigs, The Untold Story. New York, Simon & Schuster.

[93] Medhurst, M.J.; Ivie, R.L.; Wander, P.; Scott, R.L. (1990): Cold War Rhetoric, Strategy, Metaphor, and Ideology. East Lansing, Michigan State University Press.

[94] Kitts, Thomas M. (2013): Finding Fogerty, Interdisciplinary Readings of John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival. New York, Lexington Books.

[95] Seymore, Bob (1990): The End, The Death of Jim Morrison. London, Omnibus Press, 2012.

[96] Tessitore, John (1979): The Literary Roots of ʻApocalypse Nowʼ. The New York Times, October 21, 1979, p. 21. The voice-over narration throughout the movie is a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Coppola considered filming a definitive statement on the Vietnam War’s impact on the American society and the world (in Cowie, Peter (1990): Coppola, a Biography. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, p. 121).

[97] In the preparatory schema De Cura Animarum Pro Christianis Communismo Infectis, Chapter VI, part 2. Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II Apparando, Series II, Vol. 3, pars 1, p. 333.

[98] Lawler, Michael G. (2014): The Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes – Then and Now. Collegeville, Liturgical Press.

[99] Mazzucchi A., Fanticini F., Bellocchio M.G., Petracchi D., Boller F. (2017): The Influence of Brain Lesion on Musical Masterpieces of Famous Composers. Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience, Vol. 8, № 6, p. 236.

[100] Schopenhauer, Arthur (1819): Le monde comme volonté et comme représentation. Translated by Auguste Burdeau. Paris, Félix Alcan, 1912, p. 391.

[101] Derrida, Jacques (1967): De la grammatologie. Les Éditions de Minuit, collection Critique.

[102] As stipulated by President George Bush Sr.’s speech to Congress on March 6, 1991 — in After the War: The President. The New York Times, March 7, 1991, transcript, p. A00008.