Stefano Scodanibbio, the double bass player and composer, died
on 8 January at the age of 55. A tireless champion both of new
music and of the double bass as a solo instrument, he was well
known for his collaborations with composer Terry Riley.
Born in Macerata, Italy, in 1956, Scodanibbio came to prominence in the 1980s, premiering works by, among others, Brian Ferneyhough, Iannis Xenakis, Salvatore Sciarrino, Giacinto Scelsi and Gerard Grisey. He also had working relationships with Luigi Nono and Luciano Berio, whose Sequenza XIVb (originally for cello) he reworked for double bass. In 1997 he and Riley collaborated on A Lazy Afternoon among the Crocodiles, a recording that fused improvisational techniques and experiments with tuning, creating an ad hoc narrative piece with overtones of Indian raga.
As a composer, Scodanibbio had a catalogue of more than 50 works, mainly written for strings. He worked to expand the range and tonal colours of the double bass, inventing new techniques and giving solo performances; in 1987, in Rome, he performed a four-hour non-stop marathon, playing 28 pieces by 25 composers. In 1983 he founded the Rassegna di Nuova Musica, a festival of new music held annually in his home town of Macerata.
From the 1990s onwards, Scodanibbio taught masterclasses and seminars at the Shepherd School of Music at the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, Oberlin Conservatory, Musikhochschule Stuttgart and Conservatoire de Paris among others.