Biography of Luciano Berio (1925-2003)

Composer and conductor Italian, born on October 24, 1925 in Oneglia and died in Rome on May 27, 2003. He started in music with his father and then was a disciple of Ghedini at the Conservatory of Milan, city where he also studied law. He later continued his studies with Dallapiccola at Tanglewood (United States of America). In 1950 he married Italian-American singer Cathy Berberian, union which was decisive in his vocal compositions, since she was cast in many of his works of this genre. In 1954 it was one of the founders, along with Bruno Maderna, of the Studio di RAI phonology in Milan, first Italian electronic music Studio. Between 1956 and 1960 he was editor of the magazine Incontri Musicali and, a year later, left his work at the RAI to devote himself to teaching in European and American centers. From that time his activity as director of his own work was higher and received numerous composition awards.

Composer of international renown, his music until 1953 moves between the neoclassical influence of his teacher Ghedini and admiration by Strawinsky and serialism. Your contact, from 1951, with the American musical world and the first compositions in tape Luening and Ussachevski were crucial for their production. In 1954 he came into contact with the greatest exponents of the avant-garde post-Webern, which was reflected in his work. His compositions between 1954 and 1963 are assigned to the integral serialism, though his works show special melodic and shades of Italian and Mediterranean, as for example in Serenade 1 (1957). From 1958 to 1960 he worked in Differences, a composition in which musical instruments with electronic recordings of the same instruments are juxtaposed. In 1960, the year that gave numerous conferences, created one of his most important works: Circles, based on adaptations of poems. During a seven-year stay in the United States of America (1963-1970), Berio worked closely with synthesizers; from this period are Epifanie; Passaggio, which demonstrates the growing interest by the introduction of theatrical effects; Sequenze, a series of works for solo instruments, and Symphony in five movements for eight singers and Orchestra (1968), which pays tribute to Martin Luther King and Mahler and which was conceived to be performed by singers of swing; in the third movement of Symphony sounds the Sermon to the fishes of Mahler's second Symphony. Allez-Hop opera should also stand out in your production! (1952-1959), based on folk songs and blues; Laborintus II (1956), and the opera La Vera Storia (1982).


Marc Honegger, dictionary of music. Madrid, Espasa Calpe, Second Edition. 1993.

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Ulrich Michels, Atlas de la Música. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1992.