Luciano Chessa

(b. 1971, Sassari, Sardinia).

Italian composer, now resident in the USA, of mostly stage, chamber and vocal works that have been performed in Europe and elsewhere; he is also active as a musicologist and performer.

Mr. Chessa studied composition with Francesco Carluccio and Costante Fantini and piano with Angela Aloi and Gisella Frontero at the Conservatorio Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna from 1989–96. He also studied music history with Franco Alberto Gallo at the Università di Bologna from 1989–97, where he graduated magna cum laude. He studied musicology with Anna Maria Busse Berger, D. Kern Holoman, Douglas Kahn, David Nutter, and Christopher Reynolds at the University of California, Davis from 1998–2004, where he earned his PhD.

As a musicologist, he has undertaken extensive research into the relationship between the musical machines of Leonardo da Vinci and the intonarumori of Luigi Russolo. He has also written articles on this subject for various publications in Italy and the USA.

As a performer, he has played đàn bâu (1-string guitar from Vietnam), musical saw and piano in Europe and the USA. He served as assistant conductor of the University of California, Davis Gospel Choir from 2001–04.

He is also active in other positions. He organised concerts for the Link Project in Bologna from 1996–98 and founded its concert series Convergenze parallele in 1997. He has worked as the Music Program Coordinator of the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco since 1999, for which he has organised numerous concerts of contemporary music from Italy.

He has taught music history and music literature at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

His primary publisher is RAI Trade.


E-mail address:



Lavoro (action), any player, 1997

Karaoke (action, text by Dario Bellezza), voice, fixed media (2 tracks), 1997

Levia Gravia, fixed media (2/4 tracks), small competent audience, 1998

Notti Sylvane. Seconda serie. (solo meditation), any player, 1998

Doctor Faustus (incidental music, play by Christopher Marlowe), fixed media (2 tracks), 2001

Rhinocéros (incidental music, play by Eugène Ionesco), fixed media (2 tracks), 2003

Inkless Imagination no. 2, for Fedele Azari, dancer, identifiable flying object, đàn bâu, 2006


Launisch, variable orchestra, 1997


O. G., 2 trumpets, 1989

O. A., 2 trumpets, 1989

Nouronihar I, oboe, English horn, bass clarinet, piano, celesta, percussion, 1997–98

Triptyque pour Gérard, 5 donkey gruntlers (reed instruments by Ramon Sender; 4 players), 2003

Moan, musical saw, live electronics, 2003

Cinque Quadri da una città fantasma, piano, 3 turntables (1 operator), 2003

Nouronihar II, alto flute, oboe, bass clarinet, 2003

At the end you'll be one minute older, bass clarinet, 2004

PETROLIO. Quattro Quadri da Pasolini, piano, percussion, 2004

Casu Marzu, musical saw, 2004

Inkless Imagination no. 1, for Douglas Kahn, donkey gruntler, amplified musical saw, 2004

Notti Sylvane. Prima serie., 2 oboes, English horn, bassoon, 2005

N A M B, amplified mini-bass musical saw, 2005

'Man's unconquerable mind', amplified mini-bass musical saw, 2005

'Why Can't We All Just Get Along?', amplified mini-bass musical saw, 2005

'Ha una voce e non varia', amplified mini-bass musical saw, 2005

Inkless Imagination no. 3, for Richard Taruskin, piano, radio-controlled car, 2005

Nodi d'amore, amplified đàn bâu, 2006

CINABRO, viola, piano, 2006


Il Pedone dell'aria I (text by the composer), 8 children's voices, orchestra, 1996, revised 2006 (also version as Il Pedone dell'aria II, 8 children's voices, piano, 1996, revised 2006)

Recitativo, Aria e Coro della Vergine (text from an anonymous source from Sardinia), soprano, 2 mixed choruses, organ, percussion (+ celesta), 2002 (section of incomplete oratorio Urlo impietrato; may be performed separately)

Sondra (cantata da camera, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, mixed chorus, small orchestra, 2005


Analfabeta (text by the composer), amplified voice, amplified ensemble (viola, cello, piano, celesta), 1992

Carpe (text by the composer), amplified voice, amplified ensemble (violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion), 1993

Peppa (text by the composer), amplified voice, amplified ensemble (2 pianos, timpani, bass drum), 1996

Mielecuore (text by the composer), voice, 2000, revised 2006

Il Pedone dell'aria (text by the composer), voice, piano, 1996–2001

Angela D. (text by the composer), speaker, mini-bass musical saw, 2003

Three Hilliard songs (texts by Thomas Hardy, Jack Kerouac, Morrissey), baritone, 2004

Polinesiano, amplified voice, alto flute, violin, cello, piano, 2006


After Coleridge, 1995

Cirri, 2001

Variations on a Prop (from Jorge Boehringer's 'The Future of American Transportation'), piano (played by person guiding the hands of a large stuffed animal), 2002, revised 2005


Nouronihar, 1997, revised 2006


Tom's heart, piano, musical saw, live electronics, film (by Terry Berlier), 2003 (also version for 2 pianos [1 player], film [by Terry Berlier], 2004)

S. I. R., amplified mini-bass musical saw, laptop, 4 photographs (by Alessandra Chessa), 2004 (collaboration with Miguel Galperin)