Italian composer Lucian Berio has died at 77:
- Luciano Berio, an Italian composer whose many compositions, ranging from chamber music to large-scale orchestral works and from operas to songs, combined innovative imagination and analytical depth with a richly sensuous feeling for sound and form, died yesterday in Rome. He was 77.
An outstanding orchestral and vocal composer who was perhaps most remarked upon for his works with solo voice, he was especially known during his long residence in New York City for conducting his own works with the Juilliard Ensemble, which he founded.
Mr. Berio’s love for music was exuberantly promiscuous, and it drew him close to Italian opera (especially Monteverdi and Verdi), 20th-century modernism (especially Stravinsky), popular music (the Beatles, jazz), the great Romantic symphonists (Schubert, Brahms, Mahler) and folk songs from around the world. All gave him models for original compositions or arrangements, or for works that were neither entirely new nor entirely old, works in which threads of the old could be combined with new strands. An outstanding example is the middle movement of his “Sinfonia” for orchestra and vocal octet (1968-9), where the entire scherzo from Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony rolls along, supporting a tapestry of short quotations, new ideas and spoken interjections. Even when his music is ostensibly original it conveys a homage to the past. For him to write an opera, a concerto, a string quartet or a piece for solo clarinet was to contribute to a tradition. That did not mean following traditional forms, which would have been far from his thinking. Rather, the piece would emerge and develop as if it were a memory, evoking textures and situations from the past.
….Other late orchestral works, notably “Formazioni” (1985-7) and “Concerto II” with solo piano (1988-90), show Mr. Berio’s continuing ability to find new ways for the orchestra to speak, vividly and beautifully, while solo instruments went on having their say as he extended the “Sequenza” series. But perhaps his most personal and powerful achievements are works centered on a solo female voice, all the way from “Chamber Music” to “Cronaca del Luogo”: music that celebrates an individual’s capacity, even in an unhearing world, to go on expressing pathos, love and imagination. [NY Times]
I am sorry I didn’t pay more attention to this guy when he was alive, but I will now that he is gone.