Esotericism and the Composer: The Busoni-Sitsky Tradition

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This paper explores an elite esoteric tradition of music composition, transmitted to succeeding generations by practicing musicians with an avid interest in the occult. Motivated by a conception of music as an agent of transcendence, this tradition has been most clearly articulated by Ferruccio Busoni as Junge Klassizität, or Young Classicality. The core ideas of Busoni’s Junge Klassizität have been passed from teacher to pupil in the manner of an esoteric school, and encrypted as symbols within original compositions. One inheritor of Busoni’s esoteric legacy was the Australian composer Larry Sitsky, a composition student of Busoni via Egon Petri. Building on existing research into the esoteric nature of Busoni’s Junge Klassizität, this study traces the passage of the esoteric tradition along the Busoni-Petri-Sitsky line. It outlines a new, living and evolving tradition born from Sitsky’s reinterpretation and revitalisation of Busoni’s model. Within the Busoni-Sitsky tradition the orientation of Junge Klassizität remains unchanged but has flowered into new exoteric manifestations.


Keywords: Music Composition, Musicology, Esoteric Philosophy, The Perennial Tradition, Occultism, Religion in Art, Preservation of Ancient Knowledge through Modern Music
Stream: Supporting the Arts
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr Judith Crispin

School of Creative Arts
Music Composition and Musicology, University of Southern Queensland

Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Judith Crispin is a composer, musicologist and mezzo-soprano. Following doctoral work in Canberra with Larry Sitsky, Judith studied in Paris as a composition student of Emmanuel Nunes and an invited scholar at the Paris Sorbonne. She has received a number of academic and artistic awards, including the Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Prize for Opera, the Harold Allen Memorial Prize for Composition, and an Australian Postgraduate Award. Judith has recently completed a book on the esoteric musical tradition of Busoni and Sitsky, which will be published this year through The Edwin Mellen Press. She is currently a lecturer in composition and musicology at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

Ref: A07P0006