Sergio Calligaris (born January 22, 1941) is a pianist, composer and piano teacher. After living and tutoring in the United States, where he gained his doctorate in music, Calligaris established his residence in Italy in 1974.
Calligaris was born in Rosario, Argentina. His career as a performer started at the age of thirteen. He pursued his studies under the guidance of such masters as Jorge Fanelli, Arthur Loesser, Adele Marcus, Nikita Magaloff, and Guido Agosti. Calligaris’ technique is characterised by the sheer brilliance and powerful touch typical of the Leschetizky school; his technical qualities, complemented by a detailed attention to the composition’s form, made him a fine interpreter of both romantic (especially Schumann and Chopin) and post-romantic (Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy) repertoire.
Calligaris has performed in prestigious concert-halls such as the Konzertsaal Bundesallee in Berlin, the Auditorium of S. Cecilia in Rome, the Musikverein Brahms-Saal in Vienna, and recently, as a soloist in his own Concerto for piano and orchestra op. 29, at the Main Theatre of Manila.
He has recorded, among the others, for EMI, Orion Records and the Ares-Libreria Editrice Vaticana; the latter, a few years ago, released a compilation entitled Sergio Calligaris: composer and interpreter to celebrate the twenty-fifth year of his recording debut.
- A list of Calligaris’ recordings (with musical excerpts) can be found at: Discography
- Reviews of Calligaris as a performer can be found at: Piano reviews
- Arthur Loesser (New York, U.S.A., 1894 - Cleveland, 1969): brilliant American pianist, studied with Stojowski and Goetschius at the Institute of Musical Art in N.Y.; began an auspicious concert career in 1913, touring Australia and the Orient in 1920-21. In 1926 he was appointed a prof. of piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His books include "Men, Women and Pianos: a Social History" (Thompson 1975; Slonimsky 1984).
- Guido Agosti (Forli', Italy, 1901 - Milano 1989): Italian pianist and teacher, Agosti studied piano with Busoni, Mugellini and Ivaldi. He commenced his professional career as a pianist in 1921. He taught piano at the Venice Conservatoire and at the Rome Conservatoire. In 1947 he was appointed prof. of piano at the Accademia Chigiana (Siena) (Slonimsky 1984).
- Theodor Leschetitzky (Lancut, Austrian Poland, 1830 - Dresden, Germany, 1915): great Austrian pianist and famous pedagogue. Leschetitzky settled in Vienna in 1878, where he developed his own school of piano. His fame grew, and pupils flocked from all over the world to his studio. His most celebrated pupil was Paderewski: other pupils were Gabrilowitsch, Schnabel, Hambourg, Leginska and Bloomfield-Zeisler. His method of playing with the "Kugelhand" (arched hand) was to secure fullness of tone and finger dexterity, with the flexible wrist reserved for octave playing and chord passages (Slonimsky 1984). An outline of Leschetitzky's piano school can be found at the International Piano Archives at Maryland.
- "His playing is distinguished by a romantic elan and viruoso technique" (Slonimsky 1984).
Calligaris turned back to composition around the end of the 1970s, after some twenty years spent performing. One of his earliest works, Renzo’s piano notebook, Op. 7 (written in 1978), has since become a widely executed contemporary piano piece. In this oeuvre featuring ten short and well-characterised pictures, all qualities of Calligaris’ music can already be singled out:
- the vivid opposition between "elegiac" and "flamboyant and wild" themes
- a dramatic use of rhythm
- a disciplined and, at the same time, extremely complex master of counterpoint
- the adoption of "classical" composing forms (see, just as an example, the use of form in the Prelude, choral, double fugue and finale op. 19).
Calligaris’ composing career soared after the welcoming reception of Renzo’s piano notebook, with commissions from various musical institutions (the Symphonic dances, Op. 26, for example, by the Teatro Bellini in Catania). A prolific composer (his last works are Imagenes for string orchestra op. 54 and Allegro brutale con pavana op. 55 for four-hand piano or two pianos ad libitum), Calligaris has been able to produce steadily without making any concession on the quality, rigour, beauty and originality of his music. This ‘no-compromise’ approach is thought to be an important element of his music's success.
Beside the production for piano (which ultimately led to a fruitful cooperation with pianist and director Vladimir Ashkenazy), Calligaris wrote for a variety of instruments (voice, cello, trumpet, organ, clarinet, flute, violin, horn) and for both chamber and symphonic orchestras. The majority of his compositions have been recorded by several artists. In 2007, Sergio Calligaris has been awarded the International Prize "Giuseppe Verdi" in recognition of his activity as both performer and composer.
Calligaris' composition are published by Carisch. Between 2008 and 2009 Carisch has issued four anthological volumes entitled Piano Parnassum, which collect most of his works for piano (the fourth volume includes compositions for four hands).
- A complete list of all Calligaris’ compositions (with en extensive collection of musical excerpts) can be found at: Catalogue
- Reviews of Calligaris’ work can be found at: Reviews
- Interviews with the composer are available at: Interviews
- The definition 'memorable piece' is in Musicalnews 2002 (Musicalnews article); the work is also performed regularly by artists such as Marcella Crudeli (Biography) and Roberto Prosseda (Home page).
- Both characteristics are discussed in Giordana's  and Zurletti's reviews .
- The use of counterpoint in Calligaris's music has been also considered as "a sign of a youth Hindemithian heritage " (Brunetti 2006). The influence of Hindemith is also pointed out by Prefumo in .
- "As a composer, he effectively utilizes romantic and post-romantic styles in a thoroughly contemporary idiom" (Slonimsky 1991).
- The first performances of these two works took place in 2012 in Rocca di Mezzo and Ancona (Italy) respectively.
- See again Zurletti's critique on this point (note no. 6).
- Celletti's comment in .
- The sonata op. 38 for clarinet and piano is dedicated to him; Ashkenazy performed the premiere of this piece in duo with his son in 2001.
- The latest anthological release (2007), entitled ...Rigor Y Pasión... is by the Italian label DAD Records (Home page); relevant reviews (in Italian) may be found at Ass. Mus. Aulos (Calligaris CD). For details of other recordings see Discography.
- SabaudiaIn article
- . An extensive review of Piano Parnassum has been published in April 2009 by Il Giornale della Musica. 
Sergio Calligaris taught both in the United States (Cleveland Institute of Music, California State University at Los Angeles) and in Italy (Conservatorio di Napoli, Pescara and L’Aquila). He has been member of juries in several prestigious piano competitions.
- Sergio Calligaris' full biography is available at: Biography