VIDEO PODCAST: Discussion about Bernard Haitink (1929-2021), Salzburg, Roger Doyle's Finnegans Wake Project, the English Symphony Orchestra, the Chopin Competition Warsaw, Los Angeles Opera and other subjects in our hour-long November 2021 video.
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.
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