Luciano Berio

(b. 24 October 1925, Oneglia, Imperia – d. 27 May 2003, Rome).

Italian composer of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, and vocal works that have been performed throughout the world; he was also active as a conductor.

Mr. Berio studied initially with his grandfather Adolfo Berio (b. 1847 – d. 1942) and father Ernesto Berio (b. 1883 – d. 1966), each one a composer and organist, and he quickly developed an engagement with the piano. He studied composition with Giorgio Federico Ghedini and counterpoint with Giulio Cesare Paribeni at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan from 1946–51 and received lessons in serialism from Luigi Dallapiccola at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts in 1951–52, on a scholarship from the Koussevitzky Foundation. He received honorary doctorates from universities in London (1980), Siena (1995), Edinburgh (1999), and Turin (1999).

Among his honours were the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis (1989), the Wolf Prize in Arts in Jerusalem (1991), the Leone d'Oro per la Musica at the Biennale di Venezia (1995), the Praemium Imperiale in Music in Japan (1996), and the Premio Internazionale Luigi Vanvitelli in Caserta (2001). He is the subject of several publications, including Luciano Berio: Two Interviews by Rossana Dalmonte and Bálint András Varga (1985, translated by David Osmond-Smith), Playing with Words: A Guide to Luciano Berio's 'Sinfonia' by David Osmond-Smith (1985) and Berio by David Osmond-Smith (1991).

As a conductor, he was active from the late 1960s–early 2000s. He founded the Juilliard Ensemble in New York, New York in 1967 and served as its conductor from 1967–71. He later served as artistic director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra in Tel Aviv-Yafo in 1975, of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana in Rome in 1975–76, of the Orchestra della Toscana from 1982–2003, and of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence from 1984–2003.

He was also active in other positions. He worked as a pianist from the late 1930s–mid-1940s, but an injury to his right hand suffered during service in the military of Italy in 1944–45 curtailed his career. He worked as an accompanist, and on occasion as a timpanist, from the mid-1940s–early 1950s. He co-founded with Bruno Maderna the Studio di Fonologia Musicale for electronic music at RAI in Milan in 1953 and served as its director from 1953–61. He also co-founded with Bruno Maderna the avant-garde journal Incontri Musicali in 1956 and served as both its editor and the organiser of its same-named concert series from 1956–60. He served as director of the department of electroacoustic music at IRCAM in Paris from 1974–80. He founded the centre for live electronics Centro Tempo Reale in Florence in 1987 and served as its artistic director from 1987–2003. Moreover, he served as artistic director of the festival Musik im 21. Jahrhundert in Saarbrücken in 2000 and of the project L'Arte della Fuga in Den Haag, London, Lyon, and Spoleto in 2001.

He taught at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1960, at the Dartington International Summer School in 1961–62, at Mills College in Oakland, California in 1962 and in 1963–64, and at the Juilliard School in New York, New York from 1965–71. He later gave the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in 1993–94. He served as interim director of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1999–2000 and as its president and artistic director from 2000–03.

He was married to the mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian from 1950–64, to the psychologist Susan Oyama from 1966–72 and to the musicologist Talia Pecker Berio from 1977–2003.

His primary publisher is Universal Edition. The Centro Studi Luciano Berio was founded in Florence in 2009 for research into his life and work.





Allez-hop! (racconto mimico, text by Italo Calvino), mezzo-soprano, 8 actors, dance troupe, orchestra, 1952–59, revised 1968

Passaggio (messa in scena, texts by Edoardo Sanguineti, the composer), soprano, 8 mixed voices, mixed chorus in 5 groups (8 voices, around hall), 2 flutes, 3 clarinets, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, French horn, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, harp, electric guitar, viola, cello, double bass, harmonium, 5 percussion, 1961–62

Laborintus II (azione scenica, text by Edoardo Sanguineti, after St. Isidore of Seville, Dante Alighieri [also French translation], T. S. Eliot [also French translation], the Books of Chronicles [Latin translation], Ezra Pound), 3 female voices, male speaker, 8 female voices, flute, 3 clarinets (3rd + bass clarinet), 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 harps, 2 cellos, double bass, 2 percussion, fixed media, 1963–65

Per la dolce memoria di quel giorno (ballet, scenario by the composer, after Francesco Petrarca, choreography by Maurice Béjart), fixed media, 1974

Opera (music-theatre work, texts by the composer, Umberto Eco, Alessandro Striggio [son], Susan Yankowitz, a folksong from Sicily), 2 sopranos, tenor, baritone, 10 actors, 8 mixed voices, children's chorus, on-stage ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, piano, percussion), large orchestra (70 players), fixed media, 1969–77 (four sections may be performed separately as concert works: Air; Melodramma; Agnus; E vó)

La Vera Storia (azione musicale in 2 acts, libretto by Italo Calvino, the composer), soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, alto, character tenor, tenor, baritone, bass, 8 mixed voices, minimum 60 mixed voices, 8 mimes, dance troupe, acrobats, on-stage ensemble (guitar, violin, bass guitar, pianola, accordion, tubular bells), small orchestra (piccolo, 2 flutes, 3 clarinets, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 3 French horns, tenor horn, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, baritone horn, tuba, percussion), large orchestra (104 players), 1977–81 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Pas de quoi)

Un Re in ascolto (azione musicale in 2 parts, libretto by the composer, after Italo Calvino, W. H. Auden, Friedrich Einsiedel, Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, William Shakespeare), 3 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, bass-baritone, male speaker, mixed chorus, male mime, dance troupe, large orchestra, 1979–83

Naturale (ballet), viola, tam-tam, fixed media, 1985

Compass (ballet–recital), large orchestra, 1994

Twice upon... (theatre without words), children's chorus, oboe, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, synthesizer, 1994

Vor, während, nach 'Zaide' (commentary on an unfinished Singspiel, K 344 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, text by Lorenzo Arruga), orchestra (9 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, harp, timpani [+ tam-tam], strings), 1995

Outis (azione musicale in 2 parts, texts compiled by Dario Del Corno, the composer), 2 soprani leggeri, 3 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, countertenor, 2 tenors, 3 baritones, bass-baritone, actor, 8 mixed voices, mixed chorus, 2 male mimes, on-stage ensemble (trumpet, trombone, violino piccolo, 2 pianos, accordion, cymbals [+ bass drum]), large orchestra (3 flutes [3rd + piccolo], alto flute, oboe, English horn, E-flat clarinet, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 saxophones, bassoon, contrabassoon, 11 brass, harp, piano, celesta, sampler, 3 percussion, strings), live electronics, 1995–96

Cronaca del luogo (azione musicale, text by Talia Pecker Berio), soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, 3 baritones, actor–speaker, 2 actors, children's chorus, 24 mixed voices, 48 mixed voices, trumpet, trombone, on-stage ensemble (clarinet, violin, accordion), orchestra (2 piccolos, 3 flutes, alto flute, oboe, 2 E-flat clarinets, 3 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 4 saxophones, bassoon, 11 brass, MIDI-keyboard, 2 percussion, 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, double bass), fixed media, live electronics, 1998–99


Concertino, clarinet, violin, small orchestra (harp, celesta, strings), 1950, revised 1970

Due Pezzi, 1951 (version of chamber work)

Variazioni, 1953–54

Nones, 1954

Variazioni (Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen), 2 basset horns, string orchestra, 1956 (section of Divertimento für Mozart, a collaboration with numerous composers; may be performed separately)

Divertimento, 1957 (collaboration with Bruno Maderna)

Serenata, flute, small orchestra (oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass), 1957

Alleluja II, orchestra in 5 groups (with 2 conductors), 1955–58

Tempi concertati, flute, violin, small orchestra (piccolo, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, 2 harps, 2 pianos [2nd + celesta], xylophone [+ glockenspiel], marimba [+ vibraphone], 2 percussion, violin, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass), 1958–59

Chemins I, harp, large orchestra (76 players), 1965 (version of Sequenza II)

Chemins III, viola, large orchestra (piccolo, 3 flutes, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 12 brass, 2 harps, celesta, electronic organ, 4 percussion, strings), 1968, revised 1973 (version of Chemins II)

Chemins IIb, orchestra (9 winds, 8 brass, electric guitar, piano, electronic organ, 3 percussion, violin, 6 violas, 4 cellos, 3 double basses), 1969 (version of Sequenza VI; also vesion as Chemins IIc, bass clarinet, orchestra [9 winds, 8 brass, electric guitar, piano, electronic organ, 3 percussion, violin, 6 violas, 4 cellos, 3 double basses], 1972)

Bewegung, large orchestra, 1971, revised 1984

Concerto, 2 pianos, large orchestra, 1972–73

Eindrücke, large orchestra (81 players), 1973–74

'points on the curve to find...', piano, small orchestra (3 flutes, oboe, English horn, 3 clarinets, alto saxophone [+ tenor saxophone], 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, bass tuba, celesta, viola, 2 cellos, double bass), 1973–74

Chemins IV, oboe/soprano saxophone, 11 strings, 1975, revised 2000 (version of Sequenza VIIa)

Il Ritorno degli Snovidenia, cello, orchestra (11 winds, 8 brass, piano, 11 strings), 1976–77

Pas de quoi, 1977 (section of La Vera Storia; may be performed separately as a concert work)

Encore, large orchestra, 1978, revised 1981

Entrata, large orchestra, 1980

Accordo, 4 symphonic bands (minimum 400 players), 1980

Corale su 'Sequenza VIII', violin, small orchestra (2 French horns, 23 strings), 1980–81 (version of Sequenza VIII)

Fanfara, 1982

Requies (in memoriam Cathy Berberian), orchestra (9 winds, 5 brass, harp, celesta, marimba, 27/30 strings), 1983–84

Voci (Folk Songs II), viola, orchestra in 2 groups (5 winds, 3 brass, percussion, 12 strings; 6 winds, 4 brass, synthesizer, 2 percussion, 15 strings), 1984

Formazioni, large orchestra (93 players), 1985–86

Concerto II (echoing curves), piano, large orchestra in 2 groups (13 winds, 7 brass, celesta, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 3 double basses; piccolo, oboe, E-flat clarinet, alto saxophone, 6 brass, electronic organ, 34 strings), 1988

LB. AM. LB. M. W. D. IS. LB., large orchestra, 1988

Festum, large orchestra, 1989

Continuo, large orchestra (66 players, around hall), 1989

Rendering (after sketches for the unfinished Symphonie Nr. 10 in D-dur, D 936a by Franz Schubert), orchestra/large orchestra (8 winds, 7 brass, celesta, timpani, 32/58 strings), 1988–90

Chemins V, guitar, orchestra (7 winds, 4 brass, 2 harps, accordion, marimba, 27 strings), 1992 (version of Sequenza XI)

Re-Call, small orchestra (8 winds, 8 brass, 7 strings), 1995

Notturno, string orchestra, 1995 (version of Notturno [Quartetto III])

Kol od (Chemins VI), trumpet, orchestra (11 winds, 6 brass, celesta, accordion, 12 strings), 1996 (version of Sequenza X)

Récit (Chemins VII), alto saxophone, orchestra/large orchestra (13 winds, 7 brass, harp, piano, celesta, strings), 1996 (version of Sequenza IXb; also version by Claude Delangle, alto saxophone, percussion, small orchestra [3 soprano saxophones, 3 alto saxophones, 3 tenor saxophones, 2 baritone saxophones, baritone saxophone/bass saxophone], 2003)

Ekphrasis (Continuo II), large orchestra (92 players, around hall), 1996

Alternatim, clarinet, viola, orchestra (13 winds, 5 brass, 32 strings), 1996–97

SOLO, trombone, orchestra (14 winds, 12 brass, 34 strings), 1999


Due Pezzi, violin, piano, 1951 (also version for orchestra)

Quartetto, string quartet, 1955–56

Sequenza I, flute, 1958

Différences, flute, clarinet, harp, viola, cello, fixed media, 1958–59, revised 1967

Sequenza II, harp, 1963 (also version as Chemins I)

Sincronie, string quartet, 1963–64, revised 1966

Sequenza V, trombone, 1966

Gesti, alto recorder, 1966

Sequenza VI, viola, 1967 (also version for cello, 1981; version as Chemins II, viola, ensemble [flute, clarinet, trombone, harp, viola, cello, electronic organ, 2 percussion], 1967 [also versions as Chemins III; Chemins IIb; Chemins IIc])

The Modification and Instrumentation of a Famous Hornpipe as a Merry and altogether Sincere Homage to Uncle Alfred (after Henry Purcell), flute/oboe, clarinet, viola, cello, harpsichord, percussion, 1969

Sequenza VIIa, oboe, 1969 (also version as Chemins IV; version by Claude Delangle as Sequenza VIIb, soprano saxophone, 1993)

Memory, electric piano, electric harpsichord, 1970, revised 1973 (version of work for 2 pianos)

Autre fois (berceuse canonique pour Igor Stravinsky), flute, clarinet, harp, 1971

Linea, 2 pianos, vibraphone, marimba, 1973

Musica Leggera, flute, viola, cello, tambourine, 1974

Sequenza VIII, violin, 1976–77 (also version as Corale su 'Sequenza VIII')

Les Mots sont allés..., cello, 1976–78

Sequenza IXa, clarinet, 1980 (also version as Sequenza IXb, alto saxophone, 1981 [also version as Récit (Chemins VII)]; version by Rocco Parisi as Sequenza IXc, bass clarinet, 1997)

Duetti per due violini (34 duos), 2 violins, 1979–83 (10 sections may be performed separately as Zehn ausgewählte leichte Duos, 1979–81; also version by Eugenia Kanthou of 5 sections as Selected easy duos, guitar, 1987)

Lied, clarinet, 1983

Sequenza X, trumpet, amplified piano, 1984 (also version as Kol od [Chemins VI])

Call (St. Louis Fanfare), French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 1985, revised 1987

Terre chaleureuse, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1985 (incomplete)

Gute Nacht, trumpet, 1986

Ricorrenze, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1985–87

Comma, E-flat clarinet, 1987

Sequenza XI, guitar, 1987–88 (also version as Chemins V)

Psy, double bass, 1989

Notturno (Quartetto III), string quartet, 1986–93 (also version as Notturno, string orchestra)

Brin, guitar, 1994 (version by Bruce Charles of work for piano)

Sequenza XII, bassoon, 1995

Sequenza XIII (Chanson), accordion, 1995–96

Glosse, string quartet, 1997

Korót, 8 cellos, 1998

Sequenza XIV, cello, 2002 (also version by Stefano Scodanibbio as Sequenza XIVb, double bass, 2004)


Magnificat, 2 sopranos, 6 mixed voices, orchestra, 1949

Sinfonia (texts by Claude Lévi-Strauss, the composer, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, graffiti from students in Paris), 8 amplified mixed voices, large orchestra (83 players), 1967–69 (incorporates version of O King)

Cries of London, 6 mixed voices, 1973–74 (also version for 8 mixed voices, 1975)

Coro (texts by Pablo Neruda, songs from various cultures), 40 mixed voices, orchestra (15 winds, 11 brass, piano, electronic organ, 2 percussion, 3 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, 3 double basses), 1975–76, revised 1977

Ofanim (texts from the Book of Ezekiel, the Song of Solomon), female voice, 2 children's choruses, 2 ensembles (3 flutes [3rd + piccolo], E-flat clarinet, clarinet, French horn, piccolo trumpet, trumpet, trombone, timpani [+ percussion]; 3 flutes [3rd + piccolo], E-flat clarinet, clarinet, French horn, piccolo trumpet, trumpet, trombone, MIDI-keyboard, timpani [+ percussion]), live electronics, 1988, revised 1997

Canticum novissimi testamenti (text by Edoardo Sanguineti, after the New Testament), 8 mixed voices, 4 clarinets, 4 saxophones, 1989

There is no tune (text by Talia Pecker Berio), mixed chorus, 1994

Shofar (text by Paul Celan), mixed chorus, orchestra, 1995

Hör (text by Paul Celan), mixed chorus, large orchestra, 1995 (section of Requiem der Versöhnung, a collaboration with Friedrich Cerha, Marc-André Dalbavie, Paul-Heinz Dittrich, John Harbison, Marek Kopelent, György Kurtág, Arne Nordheim, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bernard Rands, Wolfgang Rihm, Alfred Schnittke–Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Judith Weir, Jōji Yuasa; may be performed separately)

E si fussi pisci (text from a folksong from Sicily [Italian translation]), mixed chorus, 2002

Stanze (texts by Giorgio Caproni, Edoardo Sanguineti, Alfred Brendel, Paul Celan, Dan Pagis), baritone, 3 male choruses (6 voices total), large orchestra (piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 12 brass, piano [+ celesta], glockenspiel, 3 percussion, 52 strings), 2002–03


Opus Number Zoo (all players also speak text by Rhoda Levine), flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1950–51, revised 1970

Quattro Canzoni popolari, female voice, piano, 1946–52, revised 1973 (versions of two songs were incorporated into Folk Songs)

El Mar la mar (text by Rafael Alberti), soprano, mezzo-soprano, flute (+ piccolo), 2 clarinets (2nd + bass clarinet), harp, cello, double bass, accordion, 1952, revised 1969

Chamber Music (text by James Joyce), female voice, clarinet, harp, cello, 1953

Circles (text by e. e. cummings), female voice, harp, 2 percussion, 1960

Folk Songs (texts from folksongs from the USA, Armenia, France, Sicily, Italy, Sardinia, Azerbaijan), mezzo-soprano, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, harp/guitar, viola, cello, 2 percussion, 1964 (incorporates versions of two songs from Quattro Canzoni popolari; also version for mezzo-soprano, orchestra [7 winds, French horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, 2 percussion, strings], 1972)

Sequenza III (text by Markus Kutter), female voice, 1965–66

O King (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 1967 (version incorporated into Sinfonia)

Air (text by Alessandro Striggio [son]), soprano, orchestra (9 winds, 3 French horns, 2 pianos, electronic organ, 3 percussion, violas, cellos, double basses), 1969 (section of Opera; may be performed separately as a concert work; also version for soprano, violin, viola, cello, piano, 1970)

Melodramma, tenor, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, piano, electronic organ, percussion, 1970 (section of Opera; may be performed separately as a concert work)

Agnus, 2 sopranos, 3 clarinets, electronic organ obbligato, 1971 (section of Opera; may be performed separately as a concert work)

E vó (text from a folksong from Sicily), soprano, flute, oboe, 3 clarinets, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, electronic organ, percussion, 1972 (section of Opera; may be performed separately as a concert work)

Recital I (for Cathy) (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, small orchestra (flute [+ piccolo], oboe, 2 clarinets [2nd + bass clarinet], alto saxophone, trumpet, bass trumpet, trombone, 3 pianos, electronic organ, percussion, violin, viola, cello, double bass), 1972

Calmo (in memoriam Bruno Maderna, text by Homer), mezzo-soprano, small orchestra (piccolo [+ flute], alto flute, E-flat clarinet, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, harp, percussion, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses), 1974, revised 1989

Epiphanies (texts by Antonio Machado, Bertolt Brecht, Edoardo Sanguineti, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Claude Simon), female voice, large orchestra (82 players), 1959–91

Altra voce (text by Talia Pecker Berio), mezzo-soprano, alto flute, live electronics, 1999

Alois (text by Alfred Brendel), baritone, orchestra, 2001


Petite Suite, 1947

Cinque Variazioni, 1952–53, revised 1966

Sequenza IV, 1965–66

Rounds, 1967 (version of work for harpsichord)

Memory, 2 pianos, 1970, revised 1973 (also version for electric piano, electric harpsichord)

Six Encores, 1965–90 (each section may be performed separately: Wasserklavier, 1965; Erdenklavier, 1969; Luftklavier, 1985; Feuerklavier, 1989; Brin, 1990 [also version by Bruce Charles for guitar]; Leaf, 1990)

Sonata, 2001


Fa-Si, 1975


Rounds, 1964–65 (also version for piano)


Ritratto di città, fixed media (1 track), 1954 (collaboration with Bruno Maderna)

Mutazioni, fixed media (1 track), 1955

Perspectives, fixed media (2 tracks), 1957

Thema (Omaggio a Joyce), fixed media (2 tracks), 1958

Momenti, fixed media (4 tracks), 1960

Visage, fixed media (2 tracks), 1961

Chants parallèles, fixed media, 1974–75


a-ronne (radiophonic documentary, text by Edoardo Sanguineti), 8 actors, 1974 (also version for 5 actors, 1975)

Il Diario immaginario (radio opera, libretto by Vittorio Sermonti, Luigi Diemoz), mixed chorus, large orchestra, fixed media, 1975


Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, SV 153 (Claudio Monteverdi), soprano, tenor, baritone, 3 violas, cello, double bass, harpsichord, 1966

Le Grand Lustucru from Marie Galante (Kurt Weill), mezzo-soprano, 12 players, 1967, revised 1972, 1993

Surabaya Johnny from Happy End (Kurt Weill), mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, percussion, 1967, revised 1972, 1993

Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit from Die Dreigroschenoper (Kurt Weill), mezzo-soprano, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, accordion, vibraphone, 1967, revised 1975, 1993

Quattro Versioni originali della 'Ritirata Notturna di Madrid' (Luigi Boccherini), large orchestra, 1975

Siete Canciones populares españolas (Manuel de Falla), mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1978

Opus 120 No. 1 (Johannes Brahms), clarinet/viola, orchestra, 1984–86, revised 1990

Fünf frühe Lieder (Gustav Mahler), baritone, orchestra, 1986

Sechs frühe Lieder (Gustav Mahler), baritone, large orchestra, 1987

Wir bauen eine Stadt (Paul Hindemith), children's chorus, piano 4 hands/orchestra, 1987

Otto Romanze (Giuseppe Verdi), tenor, orchestra, 1990

Contrapunctus XIX from Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080 (Johann Sebastian Bach), small orchestra (23 players), 2001

Turandot (completion of sketches for final scene of Act 3 by Giacomo Puccini), 2001