Esoteric Musical Tradition of Ferruccio Busoni and Its Reinvigoration in the Music of Larry Sitsky

Author: Judith Michelle Crispin
This study explores an elite esoteric tradition of music composition, transmitted to succeeding generations by practicing musicians with an avid interest in the occult. Motivated by a conception of music as an agent of transcendence, this tradition has been most clearly articulated by Ferruccio Busoni as Junge Klassizität, or Young Classicality. The core ideas of Busoni’s Junge Klassizität have been passed from teacher to pupil in the manner of esoteric school, and encrypted as symbols within original compositions. One inheritor of Busoni’s esoteric legacy was the Australian composer Larry Sitsky, a composition student of Busoni via Egon Petri. Building on existing research into the esoteric nature of Busoni’s Junge Klassizität, this study traces the passage of the esoteric tradition along the Budoni-Petri-Sitsky line. It outlines a new, living and evolving tradition born from Sitsky’s reinterpretation and revitalization of Busoni’s model. Within the Busoni-Sitsky tradition of orientation of Junge Klassizität remains unchanged but has flowered into new esoteric manifestations.

To further elucidate this tradition, this study examines the two major operas it has generated: Busoni’s Doktor Faust and Sitsky’s The Golem. It is demonstrated that the tradition’s core ideas are transmitted through these operas as encrypted symbols, awaiting future decipherment. This work will appeal to scholars of music history, pedagogy, and composition, as well as scholars of Australian music, Busoni, Sitsky and Western esotericism.


“We know how important the subject was and is to many creative minds, and so it seems to me the height of absurdity to shy away from it. Therefore I congratulate Dr. Crispin for having the heart to push the study of music in this direction. More courage to her arm and perhaps her book is a signal for future efforts among musicologists.” – Dr. Larry Sitsky, Emeritus Professor of Composition, Australian National University

Table of Contents

1 The Legacy of Ferruccio Busoni
2 The Architecture of Busoni’s Doktor Faust
3 The Nuctemeron of Larry Sitsky
4 The Gematria of Sitsky’s The Golem
5 Conclusions
Appendix 1 – Sitsky: Complete Works, Discography and Writings on Music
Appendix 2 – Transcript of an Interview with Larry Sitsky by Judith Crispin
Appendix 3 – Table of Select Authors from Busoni’s Library