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“Diatope”, by Iannis Xenakis, closes the 1985 edition of Madrid Autumn Festival.

As a tribute and remembrance to Iannis Xenakis on the centenary of his birth, I include here the article I published on 30 October 1985, in the newspaper Ya, on the occasion of the premiere in the Plaza de Todos de las Ventas in Madrid, at the closing of the Autumn Festival of that year, of the Pyrotechnic Symphony, one of Iannis Xenakis’ metamusical spectacles, consisting of the score of his work Diatope (one of his famous “polytopes”) and the pyrotechnic “score” Epure pour cent milliards d’etincelles by the sculptor and “magician of light” Pierra Alain Hubert. The year of realisation must always be taken into account.

The Autumn Festival – the world culture in full swing that has come upon us – is coming to an end. The Consejería de Cultura de la Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid has planned an unforgettable finale to close our month-and-a-half-long Europalia.
The pyrotechnic symphony is, if I may use the metaphor, almost a miracle. Two architects – Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Alain Hubert – will be in charge of decorating the sky over Madrid on the night of 1 November. Both will build castles in the air. One with his fireworks, the other with his music.

Pierre Alain Hubert
Formerly a sculptor and architect, now a magician of light. In Japan, he would learn the magic of pyrotechnics. It must be emphasised that what we will be able to witness will not be simple fireworks. It will be Fireworks, with a capital letter. Art. The fruit of almost thirteen years of intense work. The fruit of the creative and imaginative effort of a man obsessed with unravelling the most hidden secrets and the most overwhelming possibilities of pyrotechnics.
A thousand and one luminous forms will explode, silent, mute, above the monumental bullring of Las Ventas. Alcalá Street will shine in a different way. Tiny, infinite stars of all colours will rise above it, forming implausible drawings that will fold their demonic beauty to the beats of the no less thrilling music of Iannis Xenakis.

Iannis Xenakis
Also an architect, at one time assistant to Le Corbusier, civil engineer, doctor in Human Sciences and a long list of other activities, among which his facet as a composer stands out.
A disciple of Olivier Messiaen and Hermann Scherchen, Xenakis would delve into mathematical theories as the sole driving force behind his musical composition. Creator of “stochastic music”, a name that refers to his way of composing, based on the theories of the calculation of probabilities, as well as on the rules of mathematical logic and the theories of serial events.
Xenakis, of Greek origin but naturalised French in 1965, is one of the most daring and prolific composers of the world avant-garde, in which he has figured since the 1950s. The author of a highly complex work, which aims to represent musically the complicated structures of contemporary architecture, Xenakis has nevertheless gone virtually unnoticed by the Spanish public.
The Pyrotechnic Symphony is, therefore, a unique opportunity to appreciate the millimetric assembly between the two scores: the pyrotechnic –Epure pour cent milliards d’etincelles– and the musical –Diatope-, the last composition, to date, by Iannis Xenakis, of an electroacoustic nature.
Abstract and difficult music, but, at the same time, beautifully hypnotic. An ideal sound background for an equally abstract and evocative visual spectacle.
The whole of Madrid is going to dress up to say goodbye to the Autumn Festival. Next year, God willing, we will again receive an unprecedented cultural flood. In the meantime, let’s get ready to admire the prodigy of the brotherhood between dream and reality that Pierre Alain Hubert and Xenakis are going to offer us.