His work seems to present a continuous attempt to find a path through a labyrinth of possibilities: musical, phonetic, electro-acoustic, textual, theatrical, ethnic, anthropological. Berio was a pioneer of electronic music, but also his Sequenzas extended instrumental techniques and broke new ground in notation. In massive works such as Sinfonia, , and Laborintus II, , he demonstrated both his powers as an orchestrator and his highly inclusive and eclectic musical style. Text and song remain at the heart of his music, and he is also capable of great lyrical simplicity, such as in the popular Folk Songs, , and Ofanim, Otherwise it would be quite hopeless.
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He was taught how to play the piano by his father and grandfather, who were both organists. During World War II he was conscripted into the army, but on his first day, he injured his hand while learning how a gun worked and spent time in a military hospital.
He was unable to continue studying the piano because of his injured hand, so instead concentrated on composition. In came the first public performance of one of his works, a suite for piano. Berio made a living at this time by accompanying singing classes, and it was in doing this that he met the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian , whom he married shortly after graduating they divorced in Berio wrote a number of pieces that exploited her distinctive voice.
In , Berio went to the United States to study with Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood , from whom he gained an interest in serialism. He became interested in electronic music , co-founding the Studio di fonologia musicale , an electronic music studio in Milan, with Bruno Maderna in He invited a number of significant composers to work there, among them Henri Pousseur and John Cage.
He also produced an electronic music periodical, Incontri Musicali. In , Berio returned to Tanglewood, this time as Composer in Residence, and in , on an invitation from Darius Milhaud , took a teaching post at Mills College in Oakland, California. In he began to teach at the Juilliard School , and there he founded the Juilliard Ensemble, a group dedicated to performances of contemporary music. In , he again married, this time to the noted philosopher of science Susan Oyama they divorced in His reputation was cemented when his Sinfonia was premiered in In , Berio returned to Italy.
In he opened Tempo Reale , a centre for musical research and production based in Florence. He was active as a conductor and continued to compose to the end of his life. Luciano Berio died in in a hospital in Rome.
He was an atheist. The next day he gave another two-hour seminar, with a completely straight face, showing why it was hopelessly flawed and a creative dead-end. The piece is in memory of Martin Luther King , who had been assassinated shortly before its composition. In it, the voice s intones first the vowels, and then the consonants which make up his name, only stringing them together to give his name in full in the final bars. The voices are not used in a traditional classical way; they frequently do not sing at all, but speak, whisper and shout.
The third movement is a collage of literary and musical quotations. A-Ronne is similarly collaged, but with the focus more squarely on the voice.
It was originally written as a radio program for five actors, and reworked in for eight vocalists and an optional keyboard part. The work is one of a number of collaborations with the poet Edoardo Sanguineti , who for this piece provided a text full of quotations from sources including the Bible , T. Eliot and Karl Marx.
Another example of the influence of Sanguineti is the large work Coro premiered , scored for orchestra, solo voices, and a large choir, whose members are paired with instruments of the orchestra. The work extends over roughly an hour, and explores a number of themes within a framework of folk music from a variety of regions: Chile, North America, Africa. Recurrent themes are the expression of love and passion; the pain of being parted from loved ones; the death of a wife or husband. A line repeated often is "come and see the blood on the streets", a reference to a poem by Pablo Neruda , written in the context of the outbreak of the civil war in Spain.
Luciano Berio: 'points on the curve to find ...'
First I will discuss the construction of the solo piano part. Next I shall discuss the rest of the ensemble, i. Finally I will discuss the co-evolution of the solo piano and the ensemble. Using the completed piano part as an underlying backbone, he composed the remaining parts above, beneath and around the piano. The formality of the solo piano part, as a cantus firmus is internally mirrored in its highly ordered construction scheme. The part is based on a constantly evolving 10 note ordered pitch row. While the scheme for the evolution of the pitch row is enacted quite strictly, Berio practices much greater freedom in the way each statement of the row is made.
Points on the Curve to Find... (1974)