My name is Adriano, after my grandfather Adrian Leverkühn, the composer.

Grandfather was a great musician, but the memory of him that is left with me only brings back to a beautiful novel by Thomas Mann "Doctor Faustus", which retraces his life, redrawing it according to literary needs which can sometimes twist facts, names, places and meanings.

In his biographical reality Adrian wasn't at all the man unavailable to other people's destinies as he has been described.
On the contrary, he willingly granted a sincere friendship to whoever would appear in his life and was well known for the beautiful ways of his spirit.

That is why I am sure that when Adrian read Mann's letter from the United States announcing him the intention of writing a novel about a musician modeled after him, he must have smiled, pleased at the news and felt honored when he got to know that the great writer would affirm his literary vision presenting him through the eyes of a childhood friend.

Which he was not, since the two got to know each other in Munich in 1911, when the writer was 36 and my grandfather ten years younger than him.

Since then they entertained a brotherly and instinctive friendship; from their first meeting they acknowledged each other as kindred spirits, as the saying went then.

In those times Mann had already written "The Buddenbrooks", a masterpiece that made him famous, and was writing "Death in Venice", as his fame kept on growing, carrying him towards the Nobel Prize, which he received in 1929.

Also for Adrian, that year marked the appearance of a series of great masterpieces, the "13 songs by Brentano" excerpted by a poetry book by Clemens Brentano, cousin of the "Immortal Beloved" by Beethoven, songs which he developed for a common project to which he was working together with Alban Berg, of which we received just Berg's version, and "Apocalypsis cum figuris" which proposed a musical description of a series of paintings by Dürer that stroke his imagination, inspiring his composition of 15 musical comments of rare beauty, followed by "Lights from the sea", "Wonders of the universe" and many other works that Adrian burned and destroyed during the final years of his tormented life.

Great masterpieces for those who had the luck of hearing them, but which brought him no luck, no success.
Which he did not look for anyway, as he considered himself a pure musician and was tied to his work by an intimate, almost secret relationship.

The object of his research was totally other; in his last years that search led him all the more astray and its consequences brought him towards the imbalance that pushed him to destroy all of his work.

Kindred spirits, with sadly different destinies.

I fatally enter this story in 1912, when my grandmother, a young woman from Palestrina, fell in love with a young german musician travelling in Italy with a friend, the famous writer T. Mann, whom briefly stayed in town, guest in the house of a neighbour She was 18, he was 27.
They became lovers, then he left for Rome

This doomed love affair lasted until the demise of grandfather, almost thirty years between Munich and Palestrina, and led her to conceive my father, out of desperation and anger, in one of the last visit that she paid to the man of her life when she understood that grandfather was disappearing for good behind the delirium of confusion and destruction that became the two years it took him to die.
It was then that she asked a child of his, as a memento and proof of those fantastic times. Grandmother had indeed exhausted the years of her youth without ever desiring to get married.

And this was a problem, in Palestrina.

Thus my father did not get born in Lazio, but in Piedmont, where grandmother moved. There she was greeted with often tepid acknowledgement, but never hostile or critical attitude.

Strangely enough for those times, her passionate and independent personality did not meet general reproach, rather sympathy and respect by many. It has been said that she knew how to be liked by men and also how to be loved by women.

It was the Langa district of Piedmont that my grandmother chose as a place to grow my father up and re-establish her family; it was the Langa to offer a wife to her only son and the place where my mother – who married him – gave birth to me.

My father did not inherit his father's madness, as it was feared by everyone that knew his ancestors. But that hidden fear remained active within the consciousness of those who were found of the "Roman" newcomers, and manifested itself in the stubborn refusal of talking about the German crazy grandfather, remembering him, even pronouncing his name.

Even my grandmother finally adhered to this precautional remedy, she even extended it to everything concerning music and art in general.
My father thus grew removed from any melodic suggestion, any musical instrument, even from dancing halls.

An inexpressed but general superstition that organized sound might awaken the latent folly within our blood prevailed over common sense.

At birth I was imposed my grandfather's name, but music continued to be kept out of our home's front door and my education never encompassed any musical training of sorts, no turntable ever found its way in our house and the radio was tolerated uniquely as a carrier for news, comedies and weather forecasts.

The life that I have spent ever since and until a few years ago, determined as many others by events that were almost ever casual, will not be a part of this narrative.

Which begins from the moment in which circumstances brought me to the cleaning of a remote attic in the first house grandmother had lived in when she first arrived from Palestrina.

Another casual event as well, and a crucial one because it brought to light an old trunk of which everyone had lost memory.

That is how, a couple of years ago I began to discover who Adrian Leverkühn was, through his notebooks, a few very old pictures, reproductions, diaries and some writings, all contained into the trunk, carefully bound and wrapped

That collection was the outcome of grandmother's desperate determination to save whatever was left of the work by the man she loved for an entire lifetime.

Reading those notebooks during her last visits in Munich first and then in Pfeffering, where he had moved towards the end of his life, she understood that those pages described the evolution and progress of an extraordinary musical thought and she even got convinced that those papers contained the secret to create great artistic conceptions.

During her last visits in Todtenschläule (Doctor Faustus' Pfeffering) grandmother managed to snatch away from the uncontrollable fury that led her man to destroy symphonies, sonatas, romanzas, even the studies and exercises, and all of the last writings she managed to find on her returning to Palestrina with bundles of notebooks, loose leaves, notes which she then placed into this trunk, which was then forgotten for the following half century.

The trunk contained two big bundles of notebooks, one marked "Harmony", the other "Counterpoint".

There were also some loose sheets full of notes, a nursery rhyme and a poem, a few photographs and many letters.

All traces of her passage that he would have certainly erased.

Naturally, granfather wrote in German, a language which my family had forgotten since it had not been spoken for over a generation, and I had to wait for the translation to take place.

I must confess that at first I hesitated in the face of those costs, unforeseen and heavy on my finances.

But turning the pages of those notebooks full of symbols and signs, keys, musical notations and tables I became convinced as grandmother that they contained a secret, perhaps the one that spawned the madness of my grandfather Adrian.

Studying those books brought me back to the paths he travelled, where, at a lonely intersection, grandfather got lost, and to retrace them with caution and respect, trying to understand the direction of his steps from my mistakes.

It is here that my musical diary begins, the diary of a quest to the search for the great secret.

I have provided myself with a computer and a software (there are several available for free) that allows writing music on a music sheet interface and reproduces it through a database of sampled sounds.

Never having played any musical instrument, I have studied the grammar of music, its rhythms, the arpeggios and a few models for accompanyment directly on those programs.

With this poor and uncertain gear I have faced the first study, in Major, for one instrument. And began the process of building my own style..

Since I began reading the first notebooks I have felt that the vocation of their author was of presenting a closed form, a complete work that wants to describe our musical system, giving it a final and possibly practical definition.

Grandfather knew he could have accomplished that: he saw that all developments in the musical system elaborated during his times led to a denial of the initial system itself and foresaw that after all those unusable passages the system would have come back a few steps to stabilize itself..

The common belief that has remained is that a further development of this system is impossible, for it can only lead to its complete dissolution.

Aware of this fact, Adrian worked enthusiastically since the beginning at the compilation of a future summarizing work, highlighting all aspects of composition and the problems one faces in its working.

His obsession always remained that of completing his work, completing a form and close it, because that was the way to conceive his works.

And even in this occasion he worked on dealing with every aspect of composition with a goal in mind: exhausting the topic.

Exhausting every aspect. To round the work up.

I have evaluated all the utopian power of this idea, but doubtlessly decided to share online all of his notebooks, his synthesis, his knowledge and thought.

It can be useful to many, it represents a rich and genuine source for those who desire to show up on the path of Art and it presents itself coherently as a new artistic form, free and independent, an opera of which this prologue represents the libretto.

I know full well of being a cloud-catcher for this such as grandfather, the father of Adrian, was because I am intrigued and keen about the psychic aspects that his blood has transmitted down to my family, even if I cannot but to acknowledge and observe them.

They are neither modulable, nor variable, very little musical. Both the notebooks about harmony as well as those on counterpoint presents themes with the didactical efficiency of Adrian's music teacher, Wendell Kretzschmar, no frills and all the practice of its trade.

They are teaching me to think music and to write it, that is why, in parallel with Adrian's notebooks I have decided to publish also his musical diary, the testimony and the roads travelled by my own course, the generative processes of a musical language, including mistakes and banalities.

I would like to tell the story of the blind exploration that an artistic thought must endeavour in order to build its creative principles. I would like to observe the moment in which the process shifts from artisanal into artistic.
Or, in the worst case, enquiring about the causes hindering this transformation.

This is what I deem interesting to share, together with the theoretical notebooks by Adrian.
The developments of a research starting from the principles
of Study N. 1, trying to apply the first 9 lessons to the exercises
or studies that Kretzschmar proposed to his student.

From lesson 9 on, each one will be completed by the studies trying to implement the suggested procedures.
Going to lesson every two weeks, Adrian had 15 days to prepare the studies to show Kretzschmar for his corrections.

I shall do the same.

As I have stated before, this course begins in order to follow his footsteps.

I also affirm with certainty that the construction and the organization of a composition method is one of the strongest creative moments in the entire artistic production process, but - curiously enough – it is also the most mysterious, private, almost always inferred by music analysts and seldom illustrated by the author himself, whom never speaks about it.

I shall try to describe my method as it develops and is being built, specifying the paths I travel and the motives for doing so, what I am looking for and eventually find or else what I find in place of what I was looking for.

Perhaps some reader might think, by now, that my grandfather's madness only skipped one generation.
Sometimes I also think that: anything is possible, as I shall try to demonstrate.


Index of photographies


This is the only photo remained of Adrian.
Palestrina 1912, Adrian is 27 years old.



Adrian was very happy when the writer gave him this portrait.
That's ThomasMann in 1905, already notorious for "The Booddenbrok".
In the same year he married Katja Pringsheim


One of 15 Albrecht Dürer's xilographies about Apokalypse, that inspired Adrian's Apocalipse cum figuris.


A-Palestrina. B-Palestrina's streets.


My grandmother at 24. This photo has been made by Adrian in Munich.
They had been in love for twelve years


This is the house that I had to clear and where I found the chest.
The dormer is over the attic where my grandma abandoned it.


In 1911 Adrian organizes his transfer to Munich from Lipsia,
Bach's town, where he had lived six years.
He made himself this photo in Monaco in 1911.


Todtenschlaule, Doctor Faustus' Pffeffering.


Notebook1 Armony.


Notebook 2 Armony.


Notebook 3 Counterpoint.


Wendell Kretzschmar, friend and collegueof Shoenberg,
host of many cultural circles and Adrian's teacher.


Berlin's philarmonic, to whom Kretzschmar belonged from 1925 to 1930,
when nazists expelled him.


"Cithaerias esmeralda"butterfly, beloved to Adrians's father that called it "a petal kidnapped from the wind".