Personalities | Luciano Berio | Contemporary | Classical

(Looch-ya’-no Bâr’-yo) 1925–2003
Italian composer

Study with Giorgio Ghedini and Luigi Dallapiccola (1904–75) led Berio to an early interest in the possibilities offered by serialism (Nones, 1954). In 1955 Berio and Bruno Maderna (1920–73) jointly opened the Studio di fonologia for electronic composition, where he created two works, Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (1958) and Visage (1961), that exploited the semantic potential of language and the human voice. His Sequenza III for solo voice does so in a different way without electronics; the remaining pieces in the series, concluded in 2002 with Sequenza XIV for solo cello, exploit the virtuosic and expressive potential of individual instruments. His best-known work, the Sinfonia (1968–9), is rich in musical and textual allusion, especially in the third movement, a seamless collage of quotations in both the orchestral score and the amplified spoken commentary that overlays it. The 1980s and 90s saw a number of music-theatre works, including La vera storia (‘The True Story’, 1977–81, a collaboration with Italo Calvino), Un re in ascolto (‘A King Listens’, 1979–84), Outis (1995–96) and Cronaca del luogo (‘Chronicle of the Place’, 1998–99).

Recommended Recording:
Sinfonia, Canticum Novissimi Testamenti II, Electric Phoenix, Orchestre de Paris (cond) Semyon Bychkov (Philips/Decca)

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