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Luciano Berio 1925-2003
Luciano Berio Italian composer Luciano Berio was one of the most radical and innovative musical thinkers of our time. He once likened music to "a building whose architect is society and whose designer is history, but whose blueprint is never given because its rooms are open and changing." Berio died in Rome on May 27, 2003.
Music of Berio

Hear 30-second selections

audio icon 'Sinfonia' - Electric Phoenix and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

audio icon Schubert/Berio - 'Rendering for Orchestra' - London Symphony Orchestra

audio icon Concerto II "Echoing Curves" - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrea Lcchesini, piano


Born into a musical family in 1925, Berio entered the Milan Conservatory after World War II. There he studied composition with Giorgio Ghedini, was influenced by the music of Stravinsky, and became one of a new generation of composers to completely rethink music. In 1955, he co-founded the Musical Phonolgy Studio in Milan, an early laboratory for experimental and electronic music. He also taught classes at Columbia and Harvard Universities, and at the Juilliard School of Music.

In 1994, Berio followed in the footsteps of Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Carlos Chavez, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland when he served the year-long Charles Eliot Norton professorship for the Norton Lecture series at Harvard University. Poets and composers alike were summoned to give public lectures in poetry, in the broadest sense of the word, including all poetic expression in language, music and the fine arts. During their tenures, these prominent composers invoked some of the most thought provoking discussions about the nature and role of music. In an interview with WGBH's Brian Bell, Luciano Berio reflects on past Norton lectures with Copland, Bernstein and Stravinsky, as well as his own lectures entitled "Remembering the Future."

Listen to the interview (March, 1994)

A few of Berio's most notable works, ranging from orchestral, to works with solo voice (written for his first wife, American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian), include his Sinfonia for 8 voices and orchestra (1968-9); Coro for 40 voices and 40 instruments, a setting of folk texts by Pablo Neruda (1977); a series of 13 Sequenzas (1958-1996), short virtuosic pieces that stretch the musical and technical possibilities of a different solo instrument; and Rendering (1989), Berio's melding of his own music with fragments of what would have been Schubert's Tenth Symphony.

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