Luca Francesconi studied piano at the Conservatory of Milan and composition with Azio Corghi, Karlheinz Stockhausen (in Rome) and Luciano Berio (at Tanglewood). He also spent a period in Boston studying jazz. Between 1981 and 1984 he worked as an assistant to Berio. In 1990 he founded Agon Acustica Informatica Musica in Milan, a center for music research and production using new technologies.
Among the many prizes and international awards he has received are: the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (Darmstadt 1990); the Förderpreis der Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikstiftung (Munich 1994); and the Prix Italia for Ballata del rovescio del mondo, a radio opera with texts by Umberto Fiori (1994). To date he has written over seventy works for a wide range of instrumental and other mediums (from solo instrument to large orchestra and from opera to multimedia), many of these being commissioned by national radio companies and other leading musical institutions. He collaborates regularly with prestigious conductors, soloists, ensembles and the best orchestras in the world. He has written five radio operas for the Italian Radio and Television Corporation and several operas for the stage or open air, frequently making use of multimedia technologies, as in the case of the video-opera Striàz (with video markers by Studio Azzuro) and Lips, Eyes…Bang for actress/singer and ensemble with live audio and video transformations, commissioned by Nieuw Ensemble and STEIM Amsterdam.
His electronic and vocal music includes: Etymo for soprano, chamber orchestra and electronics (from Baudelaire); three pieces for solo instruments with live electronics (Animus I for trombone, Animus II for viola and Animus III for tuba, commissioned by IRCAM and ZKM; Sirene/Gespenster for four female choirs, percussion, brass and electronics produced by WDR, the ASKO ensemble and IRCAM. His music for wind instruments includes: two quintets (Attesa and Accordo); an octet; an instrumental suite drawn from Monteverdi’s Orfeo, commissioned by the Nederlandse Blazers Ensemble; and one large-scale piece for five marching bands (Fresco). He has also written various works for large orchestra including: Wanderer, for La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti; Cobalt, Scarlet, commissioned by Mariss Jansson for the Oslo Philharmonic (this work continue to be regularly performed by major international orchestras like the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the BBC Symphony, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Gothenborg Symphoniker, the Israeli Philharmonic.
To date he has written four string quartets, which are regularly performed by the Arditti Quartet, and two violin concertos, for Irvine Arditti: Riti Neurali and BodyElectric (with live electronics). His choral music includes: Terre del rimorso for soloists, chorus and orchestra, which was composed for the 2001 Festival Musica in Strasbourg and premiered by the SWR Symphony Orchestra and the Vokalensemble Stuttgart under the direction of Peter Eötvös; and Let me Bleed for the New London Chamber Choir; Seashell for the Swedish Radio Choir. 2002 saw the world premieres of two further works for the theatre: Buffa Opera, on original texts by Stefano Benni, opera commissioned and produced by the Piccolo theatre in Milan and with the composer himself as conductor; and the opera Ballata (’96 -’99) on a libretto by Umberto Fiori (inspired by Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner), commissioned by the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, conducted by Kazushi Ono and with stage direction by Achim Freyer. In 2004 the Holland Festival commissioned Gesualdo Considered as a Murderer, an opera on a text by Vittorio Sermonti. It was directed by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti. 2004 also saw the premiere of Rest (2003), “Luciano Berio in memoriam” for cello and orchestra. Commissioned by the RAI National Symphony Orchestra and written for the soloist Anssi Karttunen, it was performed under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste. His most recent works include: Hard Pace, a concerto for trumpet written for Håkan Hardenberger and premiered in Rome in April 2008 under the direction of Antonio Pappano. This piece was commissioned by the Accademia di Santa Cecilia together with the Zaterdag Matinée at the Concertgebouw, the Gothenborg Symphoniker, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and the Festival MITO. In 2008 the recording company Kairos’s new series “Sirènes” was inaugurated with a monographic CD by the composer realized in conjunction with IRCAM and Ensemble intercontemporain. A number of his works have been recorded under the Stradivarius label. Unexpected End of Formula (2008), a concerto for cello commissioned and premiered in Cologne by musikFabrik and dedicated to Helmuth Lachenmann. Sirènes (2009) for 5 choirs, electronics and orchestra was commissioned by IRCAM and premiered at the Festival Agora at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in 2009. Time, Real and Imaginary for soprano and ensemble was premiered by Accroche Note at the Festival Musica in Strasbourg in September 2009. The composer was honoured with the post of composer in residence at the festival, which opened with performances of Rest (with Jean-GuihenQueyras as soloist) and Cobalt Scarlet, performed by the SuddeutscheRundfunk Baden Baden under the direction of Sylvain Cambreling.
In 2010 he wrote Attraverso for soprano and chamber orchestra on texts from Striggio’s Orfeo for the Monteverdi celebrations. In the same year he also wrote the opera Quartett, based on the play of the same name by Heiner Müller. Commissioned by the Teatro alla Scala, the opera will be premiered in April (with Fura dels Baus as director and Susanna Mälkki as conductor). It will later be revived by the Wiener Festwochen, the English National Opera, the Nederlandse Opera and other opera companies. In 2011 the dramatic oratorio Terra on texts by Valeria Parrella celebrates the 150th nniversary of the Unity of Italy.
Luca Francesconi is also extremely active as a conductor. For25 years he has taught in Italian conservatories and conducted masterclasses throughout the world. At present he is professor and head of the department of composition at the Musikhögskolan in Malmö in Sweden. Since February 2008 he has been the Artistic Director of the music sector of the Biennale in Venice. In 2011 Francesconi was appointed as artistic consultant for the Ultima festival in Oslo and from 2012 he will take on the role of director.