Will the Real Scelsi Please Say “Cheese”?

Scelsi.jpegI was once told, on the good authority of someone who played his music, that there were no extant photographs of the reclusive Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi – he didn’t like having his picture taken. I printed this factoid in the Village Voice, and in response someone sent me an indistinct photo of an old man in a wool cap, which the sender claimed was the only known photo of Giacinto Scelsi. Now, courtesy of Chicago critic Marc Geelhoed, whose name has graced these pages before, I find a photo of a young, dapper Giacinto Scelsi.

Please send me all remaining photos of Giacinto Scelsi c/o Arts Journal, and I’ll print the best twenty.


  1. Alfredo says

    Apparently this is *really* the only one available. I heard a story that tells once people tried to make photographs of him in a rehearsal, and the eletric power kept on having problems while they tried it. Finally they managed to make pictures, but when the film was developed everything was burnt. Really, no other picture seems to be available.

  2. says

    I like the idea of a famous person with no pictures available. Scelsi or say Blanchot may have been part of the last generation, at least in the West, for whom this was imaginable. This is a saddening thought. (I don’t count mysterious identities like Pynchon)

  3. Christopher John Smith says

    There are, in fact, an amazing three, count them, three photographs of Scelsi of which I am aware. I’m not sure why, but I believe the photo you have is authentic; it may be from an early publication of the 1st string quartet. (I recall reading that there was such a photograph.) I have seen two other photos, one of him at the age of 3, in the booklet of an Ina memoire vive disc (OP, sorry, no cat. #) of Pranam I, etc.; the other is in fact a photo taken at a rehearsal in the last year or two of his life, in the Kairos disc of the 4th quartet etc. (still in print).