Giacinto Scelsi, last Count of Dayala Valva and one of the most extraordinary composers of this century, died in Rome on 9 August 1988 at the age of 85 in the Policlinico Gemelli after an attack brought on by the sweltering Roman summer: he who never went to the mountains to avoid it, thinking that warmth could do him only good. After the Naples earthquake of 1980, which flattened the mediaeval hill town of Valva and with it the family castle and its library, Scelsi said: crolla il castello, crolla il padrone. The castle falls to bits and so does its master. Those of us who knew him in his last years remember above all the frail figure sitting on a couch below the two portraits that Dali had given the Eluards for a wedding present, doing ironic and at times testy battle with the world and old age, there in his overheated house across from the Roman Forum. With such a view, he used to say, what one does must be quite splendid or else a very bad joke. During his lifetime Scelsi refused to be photographed, did his best to avoid programme notes, and gave information about his life only when he chose to forget himself in conversation. Few of us cared to violate these rules, knowing that for a man who had dictated the mémoires of his future life they represented a kind of defence against a finality imposed from without. He sought something like this in his music as well, hoping it would seem only a snatch of what had been going on long before, of what would be going on long after.