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Get to know Luciano Berio

25 Oct 2017

Luciano Berio image

On Saturday 4 November, we explore the chamber works of Luciano Berio in our regular Turning Points series at Kings Place, which provide a chance to get to know game-changing composers of the 20th Century in new ways.

As part of the evening, we asked writer Paul Griffiths to explore what made Luciano Berio tick, from his love of writers like Samuel Beckett and Italo Calvino, to his interest in writing for amateur musicians. Read on for some snippets, or read the full story on the night. 

Berio loved the human voice, the musical instrument we all receive at birth for free. He loved it for that universality, and also for its infinite expressiveness. Our ears are most acute when we are listening to a voice, focussing on tone, on nuance, on pitch and on changes of pitch, on matters of emphasis and hesitation, on phrasing. All these things can become music – can become song. " Paul Griffiths
Berio loved composing for virtuosos, and his eminence brought him opportunities to work with many. But he also loved engaging with talents that, if more modest, would also be more general – perhaps more natural, closer to music’s origins as belonging to everyone. In writing for amateur musicians, and sometimes for children, he could come close to folk music, which he also loved, and with which he entered into dialogue in several key pieces. " Paul Griffiths
Amateur music-making took Berio back to his personal origins, in a town on the Ligurian coast, where he was born in 1925. There his grandfather and father were church organists and part-time composers, and there his father enjoyed convening musical friends for evenings of chamber music. Such were the sounds that sent the young boy Berio into his dreams. " Paul Griffiths