This introductory chapter describes the life and career of Luigi Nono (1924–1990). It also provides an overview of the present volume. Born on January 29, 1924, in Venice, Nono's education and musical apprenticeship took place during the crucial years of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, in a family and intellectual milieu which were solidly middle class while being fundamentally hostile to fascism. In 1950, Nono approached his first orchestral composition, Variazioni canoniche sulla serie dell'op. 41 di Arnold Schönberg—Schoenberg's opus 41. During the 1960s and 1970s, political commitment, social conflict, denunciation, and the treatment of individual psychology always in relation to the collective drama became constants of Nono's production as the concept of engagement took on for him the value of a “moral imperative” (Jean-Paul Sartre) to match the aesthetic imperative.
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