Italian guitarist Carlo Domeniconi has performed in concert halls and at festivals around the world for over three decades. His performances and recordings and interpretations of his compositions by other renowned musicians (John Williams, David Russell, Alvaro Pierri, Dale Kavanagh, Marco Socías, the LAGQ, Pavel Steidel and Shin-ichi Fukuda, to name but a few), ensembles and orchestras have made him one the planet's best known contemporary composers.
Domeniconi's more than 150 works, written for a variety of instruments, instrumental groupings and orchestras, reveal his fascination for a wide variety of tonal, spiritual and cultural landscapes. He has drawn inspiration from Turkish, Japanese and Russian folk songs, Indian ragas, Argentinian tango, Asian and European poetry, literature and folk tales (including Don Quixote
, The Little Prince
, Robin Hood
and the Welsh Will o' the wisp Ellylldan
), Renaissance and Baroque dance music, circus music, jazz, blues and the electrifying sound of Jimi Hendrix. He has also written and performed for theatre and dance (particularly Eurythmy) productions.
Many of his pieces deal with themes of spiritual search, contemplation, transformation and transcendence. Of his 1990 solo guitar piece Illuminata
piece he wrote:
"The Latin title means 'everything which is illuminated'. The idea of this piece came from the image of a soul fighting for inner beauty but hindered by the temptations of the sensual world."
Musical transcendence is also an important aspect of his works, particularly in the way he has sought to synthesize components from the music of disparate cultures. Such works embody Goethe's maxim:
"He who knows himself and others will also know:
orient and occident can no longer be separated." 
Michel Lydon, writing in Soundboard
"Domeniconi’s music seeks repeatedly the synthesis of East and West. He seems able to take the quintessence of different cultures and tell them anew. A hypnotic inevitability goes through his music."
One of his most successful compositions in this respect has also become his most famous. Koyunbaba
, developed from a guitar improvisation first played in Gümüslük, Turkey in 1984, is laced with elements of Turkish traditional music. It grew into a full-blown orchestral piece, performed on instruments such as the Turkish saz (baglama).
For players, the levels of difficulty across Domenicon's works present a rich topography of gradients, from "easier" didactic pieces for students practising various techniques, through more complex, virtuoso works with long cadenzas and unusual tunings, harmonics and effects (e.g overtone singing), to extraordinarily labyrinthine oevres, including free tonal and free-form pieces, and improvisations which the composer himself admits are practically impossible to transcribe as scores.
There are lyric works and rhythmic works; those that are very short and those that are pretty long (the longest so far is Opus 49, Sindbad
, at 95 minutes); the complex and the simple.
"The eternal theme - to produce beautiful music with few sounds - is ... difficult!!! However, here is another attempt."
Carlo Domeniconi on Opus 124, Zwölf leichte Duos
(Twelve easy duets)
A broad spectrum of moods is also evident over the body of his works, from light, humorous, magical and fantastical, through wild, crazy, ecstastic and heroic, to dark, mysterious, esoteric and passionate (the fugues). One piece even imitates the sounds of the volcano Stromboli (Opus 53d, Suoni di Stromboli
, for contrabass).
Since 2004 Domeniconi has been steadily rerecording many of his compositions for the CD series Selected Works
, of which six have already been released, with Selected Works VII
due out at the end of this year.
Domeniconi's world wanderings meant that his friends, fans and students of his works in Berlin had few opportunities to see him play live in his adoptive home city, where he has lived and worked since 1966. To correct this inbalance, he gave a number of small concerts in Berlin in 2009, and the consequent annual series has since become something of a tradition here.
The monthly concerts are very Berlin: informal, intimate, friendly events in small theatres, art galleries and churches. Domeniconi usually performs solo, though occasionally he is joined onstage by a singer (for instance Özlem Kaveller
) or other musicians.
A highlight of the annual concert calendar is the February "... alle Jahre wieder ..." gig (literally, every year again), a four-hour long concert featuring a number of guest musicians and a dance performance, to celebrate the composer's birthday. This year's event is on Saturday 8th February, from 6 pm (for details see links below
), with guests Jaime Muthesius, Terukaku Yamashita and Julia Schüler.
With a ticket price of 7 euros, these events are astonishing bargains, and music lovers visiting or living in Berlin are recommended to book without delay.