CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Mollifying the Muses: An Exploration of Conflict in the Life and Works of Iannis Xenakis

Davis S. Butner

Division: Humanities

Dept/Program: Architecture

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Richard Wesley

Date of this Version: 28 March 2014



The early life of Iannis Xenakis, a modern day Renaissance scholar who would come to redefine the limits of musical composition and sound-driven spatial design in the 21st century, was overshadowed by adversity, conflict and alienation. Fleeing from his home country in 1947 after a nearly fatal wound to the face during the Greek Revolution, Xenakis' newfound life and career in the atelier of French architect Le Corbusier allowed for the budding engineer to explore a collective passion for music and mathematics within his work. Nevertheless, just as a giant facial scar would stand as a permanent physical symbol for the brutality Xenakis experienced, one can easily detect similar memories of a chaotic past embedded in the compositional framework of the avant-garde designer/composer, tormented by tension and estranged symbols of war. By analyzing these immersive elements of conflict and duality which characterized Xenakis' creative methodologies, one may begin to formulate an innovative discourse in the development towards new experiential musically influenced performance spaces.


Architectural History and Criticism | Composition | Music Performance | Other Architecture | Other Music

Suggested Citation

Butner, Davis S., "Mollifying the Muses: An Exploration of Conflict in the Life and Works of Iannis Xenakis" 28 March 2014. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 17 July 2014




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