Agnese Toniutti is an Italian pianist and independent researcher specialized in contemporary and 20th Century music. She studied with G. Lovato, graduating with full marks from Conservatory of Venice with a thesis on Giacinto Scelsi. She also specialized in piano and chamber music and attended masterclasses with F.-J. Thiollier, M. Damerini, L. De Barberiis and P. M. Paul.
Her work often revolves around the role of sound in musical composition, and investigates the complementarity of composition and improvisation in musical creativity, both as an author and interpreter.
Her solo recitals are often thematic or monographic, carefully interweaving live performance with extracts from writings and audio documents selected after musical, bibliographical and archival study. Among them, the monographical “portrays” of Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Giancarlo Cardini, and the recitals dedicated to Fluxus movement (featuring premieres by Philip Corner e Dick Higgins) and to women’s creativity from the 50ies to nowadays (including Lucia Dlugoszewski’s “timbre” piano research project).
Recent record releases: Lento trascolorare – piano music (Da Vinci Classics, 2020), a monographic CD for solo piano dedicated to the music of Giancarlo Cardini, and Subtle Matters (Neuma Records, 2021), featuring music by Lucia Dlugoszewski, Tan Dun and Philip Corner for piano, inside piano and “timbre-piano”, with the use of various extended techniques. The recording featured among the ten Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classics releases and the Top Five 2021 choices by Italian national review Alias – il Manifesto. In 2023 she released the recording of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano (Neuma Records, March 2023), and she contributed to the collection Fluxus&Neo Fluxus – Stolen Symphony part I (Sub Rosa, May 2023) with pieces by Mieko Shiomi, Dick Higgins and La Monte Young.
Recent research contributions:
April 2023 – publication on Contemporary Music Review Special Issue: Engaging Analysis and Performance of an article written in collaboration with Kate Doyle, PhD. The title of the paper is Problem as Possibility: A Dialogue about Performance and Analysis with Lucia Dlugoszewski’s Experimental Notation as Case Study (https://doi.org/10.1080/07494467.2023.2193090).
November 2021 – publication of two essays for the book Looking within – The Music of John Palmer, Vision Edition 2021, entitled “John Palmer: composer, improviser, performer,” and “John Palmer’s to the night (1) and to the night (2): from the piano to the score and back”.
October 2021 – speaker at “Dialogues: Analysis and Performance,” a musicology and performance conference organized by the University of Toronto. Talk in collaboration with Kate Doyle, PhD (Rutgers University-Newark), October 8th, 2021. Title: Problem as Possibility: Experimental Notation as Nexus of Concept and Praxis, Theorist and Performer.
November 2020: participation in the American Musicological Society Annual Conference – panel “At the Borders of Notation,” through a talk-interview in the intervention of Kate Doyle, PhD titled The Suchness of Sound: Lucia Dlugoszewski’s Revolutions of Musical Form and Instrumentation.
Her interest in Giacinto Scelsi’s music is expressed through both performance and research, during piano recitals and seminars dedicated to the composer. On 8th January 2019 – Scelsi’s date of birth – she performed a recital at Isabella Scelsi Foundation in Rome. A tour in the USA, including lectures and performances on Scelsi’s music, took place in February 2019. From 2015 to the present, she has been delivering seminars and lecture-recitals in Conservatories of music and at Universities in Italy and Germany while regularly performing Scelsi’s music. In 2019, at “Le voci dell’inchiesta Documentary Film Festival”, she introduced at the piano The first motion of the immovable, documentary film dedicated to Scelsi and directed by Sebastiano D’Ayala Valva, winner at Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and Torino Film Festival.
She collaborates with the Isabella Scelsi Foundation Journal “… i suoni, le onde” in Rome.
In 2010 she performed Around Scelsi, a concert-research on Scelsi and his musical environment (program edited by Luciano Martinis, vicepresident of the Scelsi Foundation in Rome). In 2013 she lectured and performed at the “Seminario Popolare sul Pensiero dell’Estremo Oriente” on the subject On the border between East and West: Giacinto Scelsi and the Sound. In 2014 she was the music director of “Scelsiana 2014”, an international festival and masterclass for wind instruments dedicated to the music of Giacinto Scelsi which involved performers and teachers who worked closely with the composer.
In 2016 she premiered Giancarlo Cardini’s Tre momenti di sessualità infantile, starting a close collaboration with the composer himself, who wrote and dedicated to her a new piece, Terza Fantasia, ad Agnese Toniutti (2018). Two monographic recitals and a new released disc – Lento trascolorare – piano music, Da Vinci Classics 2020, warmly welcomed by critics, are the outcome of this collaboration.
Her repertoire includes several piano solo, prepared piano and chamber music pieces by John Cage, together with performance pieces as Water Walk and Sounds of Venice, performed in Venice in 2018 for the European project “Ecouter le monde”, in collaboration with Radio France (here is the video documentation).
Other research and performance projects include the one dedicated to the international artistic movement Fluxus, with the 2018 premiere of the graphic score by Dick Higgins Emmet Williams’s ear, at the fabulous Egidio Marzona’s land art collection “Art Park Verzegnis”, and the collaboration with composer Philip Corner (here a premiere of two of his pieces). Some of this repertoire has been released in Subtle Matters, Neuma Records, 2021 and some in Fluxus&NeoFluxus – Stolen Symphony part I (Sub Rosa, May 2023).
Also to mention Only 76 (Women composers), a work-in-progress project focussed on women composers’ repertoire for piano solo from 1950 to the present, especially considering artists who had a professional collaboration with the authors she mostly dedicated to (including Lucia Dlugoszewski’s “timbre” piano research project).
As a performer, Mrs. Toniutti likes to explore unconventional ways to strenghten communication between performers and audiences by putting in dialogue contemporary music with other artistic disciplines (acting, photography, dance, visual arts and multimedia).
She has recently composed the music for the multimedia exhibition The moon is full but it is not the moon, in place in Luxembourg city from June to August 2022, a collective installation made in collaboration with visual artists Gioj De Marco, Andrej Mirčev, Karolina Pernar (Luxembourg, June-August 2022. Produced by Rotondes, Luxembourg, with the support of Luxembourgish Ministry of Culture and the City of Luxembourg).
Among her projects and collaborations: Dialoghi cromatici with the jazz pianist Armando Battiston, Qui e Oltre, installation with music, photography, visual and land art, A stain on silence, performance with piano and actor, Le boeuf sur le toit, with painting and video art, Hommage a John Cage, with contemporary dancers, Around Scelsi, musical research on Scelsi’s cultural environment, Three trees and three sons with actor, Piano Twelve, ensemble of twelve pianists.
She has collaborated with several musicians including Carin Levine flute, Joelle Leandre double bass, Frances-Marie Uitti cello, Alessandra Giura Longo flute, Christian Pruvost trumpet, Deborah Walker cello, Marco Fusi violin, Paolo Zavagna electronics.
She took part in ensembles directed by Joelle Leandre (Hommage à John, project dedicated to Cage, Italian premiere, 2009) and Pauline Oliveros (Environmental Dialogue, Venice 2015, later on air on Wave Farm Radio, NY).
In her collaborations as artistic director she creates unusual situations in selected unconventional places, to offer listeners new experiences of musical fruition.
She has worked on projects of music dissemination, particularly related to contemporary and 20th century music, in public schools and with adults.
She has also been involved in music education, teaching to children, young people and adults, training future teachers and conducting youth choral and instrumental ensembles.
She is currently teaching in Italian Conservatory.
Besides 20th century compositions, her repertoire includes also pieces of contemporary composers as Azio Corghi, Salvatore Sciarrino, Carlo Boccadoro, George Crumb, Marco Stroppa, John Palmer, Silvia Colasanti, Mieko Shiomi, featuring premieres of Filippo Perocco, Caterina Venturelli, Da Jeong Choi, Colin Riley among others. Several the new pieces composed and dedicated to her.
As a soloist and chamber music pianist she performed in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, France, Germany and Usa, as well as at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Palazzo Cavagnis and Palazzo Pisani in Venice, Strehler Theater in Milan (live RAI broadcast), Duse Theater in Bologna, Palazzo Congressi in Lugano, State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Pavillon Le Corbusier – Fondation Suisse in Paris, the University of North Texas (USA). She also performed for the “Komponisten Colloquium” series (Oldenburg, Germany), the “ALL FRONTIERS – Indagini sulle musiche d’arte contemporanee” festival (Gorizia, Italy), “Angelica – Centro di Ricerca Musicale” festival (Bologna, Italy), “Bari Piano Festival” (Bari), “Ossessioni Festival” (Faenza), “Gamo International Festival” (Firenze), “Italien Musiziert” festival (Stuttgart, Germany), “Sixty Years in Flux” event (Genoa), MaerzMusik Festival – Berlinerfestspiele (Berlin).