Cathy Berberian

The Armenian-American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian was born 4 July 1925 and died on 6 March 1983. She was the Muse for her husband, Luciano Berio, who composed his greatest music for her unmatched skills. She took singing into a totally new area of awareness and technique which has become known as the 'Berberian School'. Stravinsky, Hans Werner Henze, Bussotti and many others composed for her. Together with Berio, they researched Monteverdi's manuscripts, and her interpretation was the first to remove the dust and put back passion into Monteverdi's beautiful music.

In his TV film series on the History of Music, Yehudi Menuhin illustrated Monteverdi and the vocal skills of that epoch with an excerpt of a filmed performance of Cathy Berberian in The Coronation of Poppea (1642) with Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Cathy was an innovator, barrier breaker and interpreter with few equals in any artistic field. 



A selection of articles about Cathy Berberian

Ensemble. Experimental to Classical - Giuseppe Pennisi reports from Rome's Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti

Classical music news. Obituary - Sylvano Bussotti (1931-2021)

CD Spotlight. Ambiguous Alchemy - Choral music by Jonathan Harvey, explored by Jennifer Paull. '... truly spellbinding ...'

CD Spotlight. Surrealist in Language - The homogeny of Jonathan Harvey, investigated by Jennifer Paull. '... superbly interpreted ...'

Ensemble. Political Overtones - George Benjamin's 'Into the Little Hill', reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Masks - Jennifer Paull continues her investigation of musical and theatrical masks

Masks - Jennifer Paull investigates a layering of musical and theatrical masks, with the omnipresent eerie reminder of the gas mask

Timings - Universal Edition's preparations for the Mahler Centenary years (2010-2011), by Jennifer Paull

CD Spotlight. Mozart across Niagara - Peter Hatch's 'Wiki Mozart' delights Jennifer Paull. '... an intoxicating cocktail.'

The Philosophy of Absence - Jennifer Paull investigates four releases of Cage's Number Pieces

CD Spotlight. Shaken and Stirred - Maurice Steger plays Giuseppe Sammartini, recommended by Jennifer Paull

Postlude - Jennifer Paull writes on the 25th Anniversary of the death of Cathy Berberian

Rui dos Reis - Jennifer Paull interviews and investigates the Portuguese composer-pianist

Ensemble. Occasionally Stunning - Robert Hugill at English National Opera's 'The Coronation of Poppea'

High Jinx and Haute Couture - On the anniversary of Cathy Berberian's birth, Jennifer Paull investigates the legendary musician's extraordinary talents in humouristic performance, and her equally astounding wardrobe

Cathy Berberian: Legacy - On the 40th anniversary of 'The Miniskirt Affair', Jennifer Paull sets the mood of the 1960s into which Cathy Berberian's imaginative style of recital programming shook the conventional rafters of 'classical music' through sheer daring - her legacy to music-making

Cathy Berberian - Never knowingly misunderstood - Jennifer Paull questions the focus of the lens of musical history

Cathy Berberian - A musical Columbus - On what would have been Cathy Berberian's 80th birthday, Jennifer Paull explores the life of the artist who died way too soon

'Sky poets paint the sheltered curve to find' - the first part of a triptych of articles by Jennifer Paull

Profile - A musical enchantress. On the anniversary of Cathy Berberian's death, Jennifer Paull remembers the legendary singer who cast musical spells

Reminiscent retrospectives - Women in music, with Jennifer Paull