Among his many honors and awards is the Ernst von Siemens Music Award which he received in 2003. He is a member of the Academies of Art in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Mannheim and has been a professor at the Karlsruhe Conservatory since 1985.

Karlsruhe-born composer Wolfgang Rihm studied with Eugen Werner Velte, Wolfgang Fortner and Humphrey Searle and continued his studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Klaus Huber. He is considered one of the major composers of our time. 

Luciano Berio

Luciano Berio’s biography begins like the story of many Italian (and German, and French…) composers of the past: his ancestors were all musicians ever since the 18th century. He was born in a small town, Oneglia, where his grandfather and his father played the organ in a local church and also composed. (Universal Edition has published some of their works in the volume Berio Family Album where Luciano’s pieces are printed along with Adolfo and Ernesto Berio’s).

While Ernesto Berio was an ardent admirer of the Duce, his son was an equally ardent antifascist – ardent and furious: he could not forgive Mussolini for falsifying music history by suppressing the works of the pioneering composers of the 20th century. Having grown up in the provinces, Berio was in any case handicapped by having been cut off from cultural life but Italian fascism aggravated his isolation by depriving him of access to music which would have been so essential for his development.

Berio was convinced of the need for young composers to come to terms with the achievements of their predecessors by studying their scores and writing music in various styles. He owed a great deal to his teacher Ghedini under whose influence he learned to love and respect the music of Monteverdi (in 1966, he was to make an arrangement of Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda); also to his friend Bruno Maderna (“I learned for instance from the way he conducted Mozart or my works and his own. He had a thorough knowledge of early counterpoint, Dufay and the others, and studied electronic music much earlier than I did”).

Berio and Maderna founded together the Studio di Fonologia Musicale (1955) where Mutazioni, Perspectives and Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) as well as Différences were composed. They also established a journal, Incontri musicali (1956–1960) a title which they also gave to a concert series, with Boulez, Scherchen, Maderna among the conductors. (“We had many enemies. I remember on one occasion, when Boulez was conducting, it came to a scuffle so that the police had to intervene”).

Next to Ghedini and Maderna, Berio also learned a great deal from Pousseur whom he had met in Darmstadt in 1954. “If I look back at those years – he was to say – I feel gratitude to three people: Ghedini, Maderna and Pousseur. After all, I was still the young man from Oneglia and I needed their help to understand many things about music”.

Over the years and decades, Luciano Berio grew to become a towering figure in international musical life. Similarly to a handful of other composers, all born in the 1920’s (including Boulez and Nono), whatever he produced became a milestone in the history of music – whether works for solo instruments and solo voice (the Sequenza-series), pieces for chamber ensemble (including the Chemins based on some of the Sequenze), orchestra (Sinfonia – with eight voices added to the ensemble - is to this day a representative composition of the 1960’s),chorus and orchestra (Coro being an emblematic treatment of folk music within the framework of a contemporary composition), voice and orchestra (such as Epiphanies), solo voice,  chorus and orchestra (Berio’s farewell to composition: Stanze for baritone, male chorus and orchestra) and all his music theatre pieces (Passaggio, La vera storia, Un re in ascolto, Laborintus II…).

He never lost his awareness of and interest in his predecessors – hence his reconstruction of an unfinished Schubert symphony in Rendering, his arrangements and instrumentations of Purcell, Boccherini, de Falla, Verdi, Mahler, Puccini, Weill. Neither did he close his ears to music outside the sphere of the concert hall and theatre: he was an admirer of the Beatles and arranged some of their hits. He also orchestrated a bunch of folksongs under the eponymous title Folk Songs which has in its turn also become a hit.

Luciano Berio was conscious of his responsibilities as a member of society. He said he could not understand composers who deluded themselves to be a mouthpiece of the universe or mankind. As he put it: “In my view it is enough if we endeavour to become responsible children of society”.

Sketches of Coro

Analysis of the Andante from Mahler’s sixth symphony

Work Introduction

In Coro, I returned to folk music which, in an explicit manner, had already been the basis of my Folk Songs (1964) and my Questo vuol dire che (1970). In Coro, however, there are no quotations or transformations of actual folk songs (with the exception of Episode VI where a Yugoslav melody is used and Episode XVI where I quote a melody from my Cries of London of 1974/1976) but rather, here and there, there is a develop­ment of folk techniques and modes which are combined without any reference to specific songs. It is the musical function of those techniques and modes that is continuously transformed in Coro.

by Luciano Berio

There is, in addition to the folk element, a rather wide range of techniques. The general structure of the work is that of a substantial epic and narrative form made up of mostly self-contained and often contrasting episodes. The same text can occur several times with different music, or the same musical model can occur several times with different texts. Coro is also an anthology of different modes of “setting to music”, hence to be listened to as an “open project” in the sense that it could continue to generate ever different situations and relationships. It is like the plan for an imaginary city which is realised on different levels, which produces, assembles and unifies different things and persons, revealing their collective and individual characters, their distance, their relationships and conflicts within real and ideal borders.

Of the different levels in Coro, the harmonic one is perhaps the most important; it is the work’s base but is at the same time its environment and its slowly changing landscape. A landscape, a sound base that generates ever different events (songs, heterophony, polyphony, etc), musical images engraved like graffiti on the harmonic wall of the city. The texts of Coro are set on two different and complementary levels: a folk level based on texts about love and work, and an epic level on a poem by Pablo Neruda (Residencia en la Tierra) which puts in perspective that very love and work.

Text: ©Universal Edition

Click here to download the lyrics of Coro as a PDF.

Letter from Luciano Berio to Talia Pecker about Coro

zum Seitenanfang

Letter from Luciano Berio to Talia Pecker about Coro

Analysis of the Andante from Mahler’s sixth symphony

Berio and Maderna founded together the Studio di Fonologia Musicale (1955) where Mutazioni, Perspectives and Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) as well as Différences were composed. They also established a journal, Incontri musicali (1956–1960) a title which they also gave to a concert series, with Boulez, Scherchen, Maderna among the conductors. (“We had many enemies. I remember on one occasion, when Boulez was conducting, it came to a scuffle so that the police had to intervene”).

Next to Ghedini and Maderna, Berio also learned a great deal from Pousseur whom he had met in Darmstadt in 1954. “If I look back at those years – he was to say – I feel gratitude to three people: Ghedini, Maderna and Pousseur. After all, I was still the young man from Oneglia and I needed their help to understand many things about music”.

Over the years and decades, Luciano Berio grew to become a towering figure in international musical life. Similarly to a handful of other composers, all born in the 1920’s (including Boulez and Nono), whatever he produced became a milestone in the history of music – whether works for solo instruments and solo voice (the Sequenza-series), pieces for chamber ensemble (including the Chemins based on some of the Sequenze), orchestra (Sinfonia – with eight voices added to the ensemble - is to this day a representative composition of the 1960’s),chorus and orchestra (Coro being an emblematic treatment of folk music within the framework of a contemporary composition), voice and orchestra (such as Epiphanies), solo voice,  chorus and orchestra (Berio’s farewell to composition: Stanze for baritone, male chorus and orchestra) and all his music theatre pieces (Passaggio, La vera storia, Un re in ascolto, Laborintus II…).

He never lost his awareness of and interest in his predecessors – hence his reconstruction of an unfinished Schubert symphony in Rendering, his arrangements and instrumentations of Purcell, Boccherini, de Falla, Verdi, Mahler, Puccini, Weill. Neither did he close his ears to music outside the sphere of the concert hall and theatre: he was an admirer of the Beatles and arranged some of their hits. He also orchestrated a bunch of folksongs under the eponymous title Folk Songs which has in its turn also become a hit.

Luciano Berio was conscious of his responsibilities as a member of society. He said he could not understand composers who deluded themselves to be a mouthpiece of the universe or mankind. As he put it: “In my view it is enough if we endeavour to become responsible children of society”.

Sketches of Coro

 
Lonely Child
is a long song of solitude.

Composer’s Notes

For the musical construction I wanted to have total power for expression, for musical development on the piece I was composing without using chords, harmony or counterpoint. I wanted to work up to very homophonic music that would be transformed into one single melody, which would be “intervalized.” I had already composed a first melody heard at the beginning of the piece for dancers. I subsequently developed this melody in five “intervalized” melodic fragments that is by adding one note below each note, which creates intervals—thirds, fifths, minor seconds, major seconds etc. If the frequencies of each interval are added, a timbre is created. Thus, there are no longer any chords, and the entire orchestra is then transformed into a timbre. The roughness and the intensity of this timbre depends on the base interval. Musically speaking, there was only one thing I needed to control, which automatically, somehow, would create the rest of the music, that is great beams of color!”

— Claude Vivier

Work Introduction

In Coro, I returned to folk music which, in an explicit manner, had already been the basis of my Folk Songs (1964) and my Questo vuol dire che (1970). In Coro, however, there are no quotations or transformations of actual folk songs (with the exception of Episode VI where a Yugoslav melody is used and Episode XVI where I quote a melody from my Cries of London of 1974/1976) but rather, here and there, there is a develop­ment of folk techniques and modes which are combined without any reference to specific songs. It is the musical function of those techniques and modes that is continuously transformed in Coro.

by Luciano Berio

Claude Vivier

Many consider Claude Vivier the greatest composer Canada has yet produced. At the age of 34, he was the victim of a shocking murder, leaving behind some 49 compositions in a wide range of genres, including opera, orchestral works, and chamber pieces. György Ligeti once called Vivier “the finest French composer of his generation.”

Sketches for Lonely Child

Born in Montréal of unknown parents, Vivier was adopted at the age of three. After being expelled from a seminary at sixteen for “immature behavior”—from an early age, Vivier was open about his homosexuality—he studied at the Conservatoire de Musique in Montréal, where his teachers included Gilles Tremblay (composition) and Irving Heller (piano). In 1971, Vivier left Canada for Europe, studying electroacoustic music with Gottfried Michael Koenig in Utrecht, and composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. Although Vivier was influenced by the latter, he nonetheless developed a highly personal language. Chants, composed during this period, represented for him “the first moment of my existence as a composer.”

In the fall of 1976, Vivier took a long trip through Asia. A visit to Bali caused him to reevaluate his ideas concerning the role of the artist in society, initiating a new period in his stylistic evolution. In the wake of this journey he wrote Shiraz (1977) for piano, Orion (1979) for orchestra, and his opera Kopernikus (1978–79). Above all, it was in his cycle of pieces for voice and instrumental ensemble, particularly Lonely Child (1980) and Prologue pour un Marco Polo (1981) that Vivier’s unique style crystallized.

In a New York Times profile, Paul Griffiths observed, “The harmonic auras are suddenly more complex, and the fantastic orchestration is unlike anything in Vivier's earlier music, or anyone else’s. Perhaps he found it by listening intently to bells and gongs, for the huge chords that march along—around—the voice commonly have deep fundamentals with a fizz of interfering higher tones, rather like metallic resonances.” During this period, Vivier began to create texts in an invented language, mirroring the singularity of his musical idiom.

Vivier spent the last months of his life in Paris. On March 12, 1983, Vivier was found stabbed to death in his apartment. His murderer, a 19-year-old man who may have been a prospective lover, was later caught and sentenced.

Vivier advocates include Mauricio Kagel, Kent Nagano, Reinbert de Leeuw, David Robertson, and Dawn Upshaw. Vivier’s music featured prominently in Holland Festival 2005, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opened its 2005/06 season with Lonely Child, with David Robertson conducting and Dawn Upshaw as the soprano soloist. In 2005, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra inaugurated the Claude Vivier National Prize for the best work by a Canadian composer.

Text: Boosey & Hawkes, New York.

 
Lonely Child
is a long song of solitude.

Composer’s Notes

For the musical construction I wanted to have total power for expression, for musical development on the piece I was composing without using chords, harmony or counterpoint. I wanted to work up to very homophonic music that would be transformed into one single melody, which would be “intervalized.” I had already composed a first melody heard at the beginning of the piece for dancers. I subsequently developed this melody in five “intervalized” melodic fragments that is by adding one note below each note, which creates intervals—thirds, fifths, minor seconds, major seconds etc. If the frequencies of each interval are added, a timbre is created. Thus, there are no longer any chords, and the entire orchestra is then transformed into a timbre. The roughness and the intensity of this timbre depends on the base interval. Musically speaking, there was only one thing I needed to control, which automatically, somehow, would create the rest of the music, that is great beams of color!”

— Claude Vivier

zum Seitenanfang

Pages