VENICE, Italy (AP) _ Luigi Nono, a leading avant-garde composer, died at his home here after a long illness, the family said Wednesday. He was 66.

He had recently been hospitalized with a liver ailment but the cause of death Tuesday night was not given.

The Venetian-born Nono gained initial success in West Germany, which then spread to Italy and the rest of Europe.

He combined a passion for human rights with the search for new techniques in composition. In his work ''Il Canto Sospeso'' (The Suspended Chant), written in 1955, the chorus chanted excerpts from the last letters written by European resistance fighters before they were executed during World War II.

In recent years, Nono used electronic and computer music in his compositions.

A number of his works are considered pieces of modern musical theatre, and in Italy several have been performed at the La Scala opera house in Milan.

He is survived by his wife, Nuria, daughter of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, and two daughters.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.