Luciano Berio (1925-2003)



Full Albums / Full-length Recordings


Berio Conducts Berio (1969, Columbia MS 7268)
Sinfonia (1977, RCA Red Seal ‎– ARL1-2291), conducted by the composer and performed by The Swingle Singers



Various Tracks

  1. Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna - Ritratto di Città (Portrait of a City), 1954

    Ritratto di Città (portrait of a city) by Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna, is the first electronic music piece ever recorded at the Milan's RAI Fonology Studios (Italian Radio and Television) in 1954.

    Ritratto di Città (1954)
    Music: Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna
    Lyrics: Roberto Lyedi
    Voices: Nando Gazzolo and Ottavio Fanfani
    Realization: Studio di Fonologia Musicale della Radiotelevisione Italiana


  2. Perspectives – 1957

  3. Différences - 1959 - flute, clarinet, harp, viola, cello and tape

  4. Momenti – 1960

  5. Visage – 1961

  6. Questo Vuol Dire Che... - 1968-69 - 3 feminine voices, small choir, tape and other fonts.

  7. Chants Parallèles - 1975 revision 1997 1

  8. Chants Parallèles - 1975 revision 1997 2

    Tracks 2-8 from History of Electronic / Electroacoustic Music (1937-2001)


  9. Interview With Luciano Berio (July 24, 1962)

    Recorded in July of 1962, this is a fascinating interview between composer, music professor, and KPFA presenter, Glenn Glasow, and the Italian avant-garde composer Luciano Berio, who had just joined the faculty at Mills College. In many ways this interview highlights the difficulty that many musicologists and listeners of traditional classical music, had dealing with the new, radical concepts being promoted by the likes of Berio, Pierre Boulez, and John Cage.

    The interview begins with Glasow inquiring about Berio’s previous observation that a composer’s “attitude” or “conception” about life and society could be discerned from hearing their music. Berio suggests while there may be no obvious cause and effect relationship between a particular piece of music and current trends in society, he does feel that some works can reflect certain social conditions. Glasow does not fully agree with Berio’s attempts to trace those relationships, and wonders how pure music, removed from any knowledge about the composer’s life, could be interpreted in such a manner. Glasow also quizzes Berio on the idea that contemporary composer’s feel required to shock their audience. Berio considers this tendency toward protest a somewhat American phenomenon, which while not always agreeable may be required in certain societies. He thus defends the work of John Cage, and states that is many ways America deserves, nay even requires, John Cage. A concept that Glasow seems to accept, suggesting that perhaps America has lusted after culture to such a point, that Cage was prompted to make fun of such pretensions.

    The conversation eventually turns from such abstract pondering, to more concrete subjects, namely the conception and attitude of Berio’s own works. This includes a discussion of Berio’s, “Circles,” which Berio states requires an audience to see it as well as hear it, to fully appreciate the spacial interplay between the vocalist and instruments. Also discussed is Berio’s “Tempi Concertati,” and the role of formal musical structure in this and other compositions. While it becomes clear that Glasow at times is struggling to understand Berio’s rather intellectually abstract concepts and intentions (as might the any listener), he is always appreciative of the Italian’s genius and avant-garde sensibilities, and open to further persuasion about his ideas.



  • Luciano Berio - Rounds played by Elisabeth Chojnacka

    From Clavecin 2.000 (Harpsichord / Cembalo 2.000),


    Luciano Berio – Chamber Music 7:10

    Cello – Bonnie Hampton
    Clarinet – Donald O'Brien
    Conductor – Jean-Louis LeRoux
    Harp – Marcella DeCray
    Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Olivia Stapp
    Performer – Mills Performing Group


    Luciano Berio was born into a musical family in Oniglia, Italy, in 1925. His first music teacher was his father, who was an organist and composer. He studied composition at the Music Academy in Milan with Giorgio Ghedini and Giulio Paribeni, and later with Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood. He taught at Mills from 1961 to 1964 and is regarded as a leading figure of the mid-twentieth century avant garde. Berio's later compositions include chamber music for diverse instruments, electronic, orchestral and vocal works.

    Chamber Music was written in 1953 and is an example of Berio's early serial music. The text for female voice comes from James Joyce, a frequent choice for Berio, and is accompanied by clarinet, cello and harp. The refined and sonorous texture of the piece is created by a mixture of restrained lyricism and pointillistic writing. In three sections, the work begins with a strict twelve-tone part, followed by a rhythmic study on the note A, with the final section containing timbral and melodic imitations among the cello, clarinet and harp.

    From Music From Mills (1986)


    Luciano Berio – Sequenza V

    Trombone – Vinko Globokar
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon ‎– 104 992
    Series: Avantgarde (2)
    Format: Vinyl, LP
    Country: Germany
    Released: 1969


    Omaggio a Joyce. Documenti sulla qualità onomatopeica del linguaggio poetico (43'32")

    OMAGGIO A JOYCE
    Documenti sulla qualità onomatopeica del linguaggio poetico.

    Date of production: 1958 / 1959
    Production: RAI Studio di Fonologia Musicale, Milano - Italy
    Ideation: Umberto Eco, Luciano Berio
    Composer: Luciano Berio
    Assistant: Marino Zuccheri
    Voices: Cathy Berberian, Umberto Eco, Ruggero Dadaninos, Marisa Flasch, Furio Colombo, Nicoletta Rizzi


    This is a never broadcasted radio program written by Luciano Berio and Umberto Eco titled Omaggio a Joyce. Documenti sulla qualità onomatopeica del linguaggio poetico. (Hommage to Joyce. Documents on the onomatopoeic quality of poetic language.)

    Only the last part of the broadcast, the piece itself, was lately presented to the public. The entire broadcast instead remained hidden in the RAI archives for decades...

    Subsequently, the piece, conceived for four channels, was recorded in stereo in two versions, the first titled Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (LP Turnabout TV 34177), 1958; the second titled Omaggio a Joyce (LP Limelight LS 86047), 1959. In 1995 it was digitally restored in stereo (CD BMG 09026-68302-2) and this is the version Berio declared as definitive (8 minutes and 9 seconds).

    The work resumes the linguistic studies the composer has been carried on for some years in collaboration with Eco during the first stages of the Studio di Fonologia in Milan; these studies were focused on one hand on the sonorous relationships between many different European languages; on the other hand, on the pure vocalism from several point of view:   linguistic,  phonetic,  anthropological, musical. In particular, the construction of a new musical form based on the oscillation between music, literature and multimedia languages can be seen as the result of the interdisciplinary studies carried on at the Studio di Fonologia.

    Luciano Berio aimed to the synthesis of different fields to break down the borders of the artistic and scientific specializations between music, poetry and technology. So first of all, the main feature of the composition is the oscillation between oblivion and construction which reminds directly to the poetic writing form. The work is based on the idea of the electroacoustic montage of sounds as well.

    This is the first time in history of music a recorded intelligible text was literally "broke into pieces" In particular, the composer had classified the recorded words included in Sirens according to their resonance colors, in relation to the resonance point of the vocal apparatus. The colors are chosen in considerations of the phonetic and their sonorous matter and then elaborated and mixed by the analogical technology of the Studio di Fonologia consisting a large number of electronic devices mostly designed and realized by the physician Alfredo Lietti, during a very long work which was handmade as technological.

    The compositional category of the contemporary musical art, using words and vocals as a primary source, playing with the tension between semantic and musical characteristics, through the technology, has been constituted from this moment on.

    The intrinsic musicality of the language and the research of infinite possibilities of combining phonemes are very important in this work as well. The tension/relationship between construction of the words and a new elaboration of them and meaning of sounds, which is a peculiar element of the Joyce's writings, is transposed from the silent written form to a new musical, electroacoustic form. In this way, Berio fragments the Joyce's text read by Berberian to recompose it in a new technologically elaborated form. The electroacustic elaborations and the montage are realized in the words and texts as on the sounds and noises produced by the voice.

    The composition features a very peculiar structure away from every know musical theory, to create a poetical-musical opera done not through themes but with the forms of language it-self. In this oscillation and in the deconstruction of the meaning of the words, in the research of pure timbre and resonances, "the sound becomes meaning" and the voice becomes the symbol of the human body it-self and its expressive sign, as the "symbol of language" or the principle of the "languages of things", according with the well known Walter Benjamin theory.



    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Luciano Berio in UbuWeb Film
    Cathy Berberian in UbuWeb Sound