Luciano Berio

Luciano Berio, an Italian composer of significance in the use of experimental techniques, was born at Oneglia (now called Imperia) on 24 October 1925.   After initial studies with his grandfather and father, and following a 1944 hand injury whilst undertaking military service, preventing his further career as a pianist, Berio studied in Milan with Giulio Cesare Paribeni and Giorgio Federico Ghedini, then (on a Koussevitzky Foundation scholarship) with Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood in the USA.

He met Bruno Maderna in 1953, and with Maderna began various projects - creating Milan Radio's Electronic music studio in 1953 (and serving as the studio's director until 1959), and also an avant-garde journal and concert series sharing the name Incontri Musicali.

From the late 1960s, his conducting career increased in prominence, and he became Artistic Director of various orchestras, including the Israel Chamber Orchestra (1975).

His wide range of music draws attention to the diversity of musical development during the twentieth century. His pioneering works in many different genres (including electroacoustic - most notably the Sinfonia of 1968-9 for eight amplified voices and orchestra) have been performed at many prestigious festivals, and by many top artists, including l'Ensemble InterContemporain and Pierre Boulez, with whom Berio worked in collaboration at IRCAM in the 1970s. Awards include those from Germany, Italy, Japan, Jerusalem and the UK, and he held various teaching posts, including at Dartington Summer School (1961-2) in the UK and at Juilliard (1967-68) in the USA (where he founded the Juilliard Ensemble). From 1994 until 2000 he was Distinguished Composer in Residence at Harvard.

Berio married three times, most famously (from 1950-65) to the American mezzo Cathy Berberian, for whom he wrote much of his music (including the Folk Songs of 1964). His work has obviously given spur to younger composers, especially in music for voice, often for Cathy Berberian, who in turn had a huge influence on Berio.

Luciano Berio died in Rome on 27 May 2003, aged seventy-seven.


A selection of articles about Luciano Berio

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

Classical music news. Obituary - Louis Andriessen (1939-2021)

Profile. Only the Screen - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė talks to the Belgian singer and conductor Tore Tom Denys

Ensemble. Rendered in Masterly Fashion - An anthology of twentieth century music impresses Giuseppe Pennisi

CD Spotlight. Familiar and Otherworldly - The City of Tomorrow, heard by Andrew Schartmann. '... funny, playful, and full of light.'

DVD Spotlight. Outrageously Flamboyant - Christian Lindberg as trombonist, composer and conductor, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... an extraordinary character ...'

Ensemble. Opulent and Effective - Puccini's 'Turandot' in Arizona, enjoyed by Maria Nockin

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

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

Pure Fashion? - Several Composers in Search of an Identity, by Béla Hartmann

Pleasant Meanderings - Easy-listening in Rome's Quirinale Palace, with Karen Haid

Life-affirming - Steven Schick's 'The Percussionist's Art', reviewed by Paul Sarcich

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

CD Spotlight. Fascinating music - Works by Luciano Berio and David Sherr, admired by Patric Standford. '... a great interpreter and technical artist.'

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