updated 9 June 2012

Luciano Berio

Italian composer born 24 October 1925 in Oneglia; died 27 May 2003 in Rome.

Luciano Berio was born in Oneglia, in Northwest Italy, on 24 October 1925. His family, with whom he lived until the age of 18, was the first source of his musical education, particularly his grandfather Adolfo and his father Ernesto, who were both organists and composers. With them, he learned the piano and played chamber music extensively. An injury to his right hand forced him to give up on a career as a pianist, and he turned to composition. At the end of the Second World War, he entered the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, where he studied first with Paribeni (counterpoint and fugue), then with Ghedini (composition) and with Votto and Giulini (conducting).

Berio earned his living as an accompanist, and it was this work that led him to meet the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian. The two married in 1950, and together explored and collaborated on the many possibilities offered by the voice, including the celebrated Sequenza III (1965). In 1952, Berio traveled to Tanglewood to study with Luigi Dallapiccola, a composer whose work he admired greatly. Chamber Music (1953) was composed as a tribute to his teacher. During his stay, he attended the first concert in America to include live electronics, in New York. In 1953, he began writing soundtracks and scores for television. In Basel, he attended a lecture on electroacoustics where he met Stockhausen for the first time. He began experimenting with magnetic tape at that time, with (Mimusique n°1), and traveled to Darmstadt, where he met Boulez, Pousseur, and Kagel, immersing himself in serial music, of which Nones (1954) was his personal reflection. He returned to Darmstadt between 1956 and 1959, and taught there in 1960, but kept his distance from the sometimes dogmatic atmosphere there.

Berio’s love for literature (Joyce, Cummings, Calvino, Levi-Strauss) and linguistics nourished his musical reflections. In 1955, with his friend Bruno Maderna, he founded the Studio di fonologia musicale di Radio Milano, Italy’s first studio for electro-acoustics research. Products of his research there include Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (1958). In 1956, he and Maderna launched the Incontri musicali, a concert series dedicated to the performance of contemporary music, and an experimental music journal of the same name, published between 1956 and 1960.

Fascinated by instrumental virtuosity, he began work on the Sequenzas series in 1958, and continued composing for it until 1995. Some of its pieces gave rise to a second series titled Chemins. He returned to the United States in 1960, teaching music composition at Dartington Summer School, Mill’s College in Oakland, and at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He also taught music at the Juilliard School in New York between 1965 and 1971, where he founded the Juilliard Ensemble (1967), specialized in contemporary music.

In the 1960s, he collaborated with Edoardo Sanguineti on musical theater compositions, including Laborintus 2 (1965), which received the most popular acclaim. During this time he belonged to the Italian intellectual left. In 1968 he composed Sinfonia, which, with its many collages of musical quotes from the repertoire, offers a glimpse of Berio’s unceasing need to question history. He also worked intensively as a conductor during this period.

Berio returned to Europe to live in 1972. At the invitation of Pierre Boulez, he took over as director of the IRCAM’s electroacoustics department from 1974-1980, where he supervised the installation of the 4X system, a real-time digital sound processing system designed by Giuseppe di Giugno. In 1987, building on his experience at the IRCAM, he founded Tempo Reale, an institute for electronic and experimental musical research in Florence.

His interest in folklore and folk music inspired Coro (1975), one of his major works. In the 1980s, Berio created two major lyric works, La Vera Storia (1982) and Un re in ascolto (1984), both with libretti by Italo Calvino. While continuing to write his own compositions, Berio also revisited the past with transcriptions and arrangements, as well as a reconstruction of Schubert’s Tenth Symphony in (Rendering, 1989).

In parallel with his creative work, Berio was also extensively involved in musical organizations both in Italy and abraoad. He was the recipient of many international awards and honors, including a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (1995) and a Praemium Imperiale (Japan). Luciano Berio died in Rome on 27 May 2003.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2007


  • Universal Edition
  • David Osmond-Smith, « Luciano Berio », Grove, Oxford University.
  • Ivanka Stoianova, « Luciano Berio : Chemins en musique », Paris, La Revue Musicale n° 375-376-377, 1985.

By Max Noubel

 Berio first came into contact with the music of the twentieth century at the end of World War II, when he enrolled at the conservatory in Milan. An undiscovered world of modern music opened its doors to him: Milhaud, Bartók, Stravinsky, but also Ravel and Prokofiev. During his years as a student in Milan, composition courses with Ghedini (starting in 1948) would be a strong influence. Ghedini, himself an expert on Stravinsky, passed on his skills in instrumentation and realization. He also helped Berio to break free of the rut of Italian music, paralyzed by opera. He led his student to establish links between baroque vocal and instrumental traditions, particularly the works of Monteverdi, and contemporary music. These new connections contributed in large part to Berio’s subsequent reflections on the history of music and its role in his creative thought. His encounter with Dallapiccola at Tanglewood in 1952 was equally crucial. Throughout these years, young Italian composers sought to forge an identity. Dallapiccola seemed to an entire generation to be the composer with the most clearly established ties to contemporary music in Europe, and thus the most open to new perspectives. Berio adopted his style of rigorous, melodic twelve-tone writing, but also become interested in a close bond between literary musical experience. His meeting with Dallapiccola marked the beginning of a more personal journey. He “reacted” to his Italian master with works such as Chamber Music in 1953 and Variations for chamber orchestra in 1955.

The same American voyage also introduced Berio to electronic music, at a concert in New York City. He was struck by the novel sonorities and by the possibilities offered by magnetic tape. After returning to Italy, he immediately began to experiment with tape recorders borrowed from the RAI, culminating with Mimusique No. 1 in 1953. Berio became close friends with Maderna, who would come to play an important role in the structure and development of his musical language, notably by leading him to consider “the possibility of quantifying musical perception through ad hoc invented proportions, allowing one to rediscover and reorganize familiar material.” The same year, he attended Darmstadt for the first time, where he came into contact with Boulez, Stockhausen, and Pousseur. He shared with them a need for change in music and a desire to see an enrichment and development beyond serial technique. Berio however held on to a critical perspective. He appropriated the possibilities of expanded musical means offered by serialism while avoiding the pitfalls of abstraction, rejecting strictly normative and combinatory practices. Nones, for orchestra (1954), inspired by the Auden poem of the same title, was the fist personal response to this era of musical speculation. In this work, made up of five episodes whose proportions are calculated from the number nine, Berio demonstrates an approach founded not on mechanical practices, but on processes which highlight these five stages of transformation. His Serenata for flute and fourteen instruments (1957) considerably broadens its serial approach with a continual variation of its basic elements.

Berio’s interest in working with magnetic tape quickly intensified, stimulated in part by Maderna’s own enthusiasm. In 1955 he founded the Studio di Fonologia Musicale in Milan, which became a center of intense creative collaboration, with the participation of Pousseur in 1957 and Cage in 1958. Following Perspecives for two-channel magnetic tape (1957), Berio composed Thema (Ommagio a Joyce) (1958), mixing Cathy Berberian’s voice with electronic sounds. The piece makes use of a recording (in English, Italian, and French) of the opening of the ninth chapter (“The Sirens”) of Joyce’s Ulysses, an outgrowth of his interest in linguistics and his work with Umberto Eco on onomatopoeia in poetry. Joyce’s text, deconstructed, broken down, loses its narrative power. The voice, exclusively spoken, transmits mainly phonemes at a pre-semantic level but nevertheless charged with emotion. Freed from the logic of language, verbal and musical gestures are mixed to create a polyphony of sense and sound where neither system of expression is favored.

The voice remained an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Berio. With Circles, for female voice, harp, and two percussionists (1960), he continued to explore new rapports between music and poetry. Three poems by E. E. Cummings are subjected to a process of de-composition then reconstitution of language. The poetic material is thus progressively transformed until the instruments take hold, through “sonic mimesis,” of its phonetic material. In Visage, another electronic work, a singer’s voice provides a wordless “phonic” material, made up exclusively of expressive vocal emissions evoking a range of effects. The distinction between vocal material and electronic material is erased, allowing all raw sound, natural and artificial, equal weight in the same discourse. Sequenza III for voice (1966), “written for Cathy and about Cathy,” uses an “open” text by Markus Kutter, cut into pieces and recomposed so that the fragments can be subjected to a vast exploration of vocal means of expression, from a scream to stylized singing, including banal gestures such as coughing and crying. The work outlines a “new vocality” that makes use of the widest possible XXX as a means of escape from the excessive connotations that, according to Berio, are inherent in vocal writing. Berberian’s voice was also the inspiration for Epifanie for voice and orchestra (1961), in which five vocal pieces in original languages from Proust, Machado, Joyce, Sanguieneti, Simon, and Brecht alternate with three Quaderni, virtuosic orchestral pieces which can be performed separately. The linguistic material and the timbral richness of phonemes are further explored in several vocal works, in different genres: the madrigalesque A-Ronne (1974-5), a theatrical setting of daily scenes on a text by Sanguinetti, or the second movement of Sinfonia — a reworking of O King (1967), written in memory of Martin Luther King — where the vocal material is based on the phonemes derived the vowels and the consonant ‘k’ of the reverend’s name.

The Sequenza for voice also testifies to the composers inclination for virtuosity, seen in the series of thirteen Sequenze begun in 1958 with the Sequenza for flute and completed in 1995 with the accordion Sequenza. In this series, Berio researches and expands certain playing techniques particular to each instrument, but attempts to never write material contrary to the nature of a given instrument. Each sequenza is dedicated to a particular soloist chosen by Berio for both his extreme technical virtuosity as well as his intellectual capabilities. He expects “a musician capable of placing himself in an extended historical perspective and of resolving the tensions between yesterday’s definition of creativity and today’s.” These pieces are almost all based on a series of a harmonic fields which underpin other musical functions, from the mundane to the extreme. Most of them develop a harmonic discourse by delineating melodies to suggest “a polyphony, founded in part on quick transitions between different characters and on their simultaneous interaction.” Berio further develops the potential of certain Sequenze in a series of Chemins in which the composer transforms, amplifies, and transcribes these solo pieces for ensemble. For example, Sequenza VI for viola (1967) led to Chemins II for viola and nine instruments (1967), then to Chemins III for viola, nine instruments, and orchestra (1968); Sequenza IX for clarinet blossomed into Chemins V (1980), for solo instrument and electronics, realized during Berio’s tenure as head of electroacoustic music at IRCAM.

This concerto-like dimension, another means of exploiting instrumental virtuosity, is explored throughout the 1970s with the Concerto for two pianos and orchestra (1973), Points on the curve to find for piano and 23 instruments, and Il Ritorno degli Snovidenia for cello and chamber orchestra (1977). For orchestra alone, he penned three major works in this vein: Eindrücke (1973), Formazioni (1985-87), and Ekphrasis (Continuo II) (1996).

Berio’s fondness for elaborate forms never interfered with his love for folklore and popular music. If the well-known Folk Songs for voice and seven instruments (1964, orchestrated in 1973) emphasizes the timbral potentials of diverse types of popular song transplanted to a concert music context, Coro (1974-76) demonstrates a higher degree of development. The piece calls for forty singers, each of whom is paired with an instrument. Its goal is to anthologize various disparate manners of “setting to music,” combining modes and diverse popular techniques while also making reference to lied, chanson, African heterophony and polyphony, constantly reworked and modified. In 1984, Berio composed Voci for viola and two instrumental groups, in which authentic Sicilian folk songs are transcribed in three different manners: the first in constant parallel to the original, the second in free experimentation liberally with the folk melody, and the third surpassing its source.

Berio’s music embraces divergent forms of expression, heterogenous material, high-brow or “vulgar” from distant historic or geographic sources, including very diverse musical or extra-musical references, weaving a higher unity from his disparate sources. This goal is most remarkably realized in Sinfonia for eight voices and orchestra (1968), whose musical development stems from a search for identity and continuity on all levels: between voices and instruments, text and music, spoken and sung, and between harmonic stages. The piece borrows numerous musical and literary quotes to animate a an exploration of all potential forms of interaction between music and language. The first movement, made up largely of short excerpts from Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Le cru et le cuit, adopts an anthropological perspective, investigating parallels between music and myth. The fifth movement comes across as a synthesis of the preceding four, an example of the principle of auto-citation. But Sinfonia unquestionably owes most of its fame to the third movement, an homage to Mahler constructed on top of the entirety of second movement of his second symphony (“Resurrection”). With this scherzo underneath, Berio creates a musical web based on quotes fom Beckett, Joyce, slogans from Parisian students in May 1968, and a host of musical quotes from Bach to Globokar. Fragments from masters of orchestration, the Germanic tradition, the Second Viennese school, and from Berio’s colleagues and friends form an extraordinary musical kaleidoscope, as if Berio sought to “shoulder the weight of the history music.”

Berio’s desire for the largest possible musical “plurality” is equally evident in his stage works. His collaboration with Edoardo Sanguineti led him to explore experimental theatrical forms marked by the poet’s post-Brechtian ideology, as in Passaggio for soprano, two choirs, and ensemble (1962) or Laborintus II for voices, instruments, and tape (1965), in which he displaces the traditional boundaries between music and literature to create a truly “labyrinthic” work. Commissioned for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth, the text combines analogous themes in Vita Nova, Convivo, and La Divina Commedia with biblical texts written by Ezra Poud and Sanguineti. Isidore de Seville’s Etymologies recall the medieval principle of cataloguing which, for the composer, is not limited to a single text but can serve as the basis for an entire musical structure.

Berio tackled the genre of opera several times. With Opera (1970), written in collaboration with Eco and Colombo, three levels carrying the themes of loss, death, and finality and entangled and recombined throughout. Three “myths” coexist: one from the ancient world, the Orpheus legend, and two modern counterparts, the Titanic and Terminal (borrowed from an Open theater play on the end of life in a hospital). La Vera Storia (1977-78) on a libretto by Italo Calvino takes Verdi’s Il Trovatore as a model of complex dramaturgy which inspires a rich canvas of complex action and music in its first act, inspired by Brecht’s epic theater. The second act, where the operatic tradition is eradicated, is presented as a sort of amplification of the text and music of the first act. Un Re in ascolto (1984), inspired by Calvino, which takes a theoretical essay by Roland Barthes about listening as its point of departure, is an “action musicale” in two parts. It makes reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a solitary king, alone in his office, listens repeatedly on stage. For Berio, “…the hidden character in all three of these works (…) is the theater itself, the opera. Form is always a kind of meta-theater. But in Un Re in ascolto there is no narrative, only situations and processes, and at the moment that it threatens to turn back into an opera, it stops.” Berio’s further attempts include Outis (1996), also based on numerous literary references (Homer, Joyce, Beckett, Celan) with no real narrative connection, and Cronaca del luogo (1999).

A portrait of Berio could not end without making mention of his fondness for transcription in multiple forms. Whether in his Chemins, a means to better analyze his Sequenze, in Rendering (1989), his reconstruction of Schubert’s tenth symphony, or in Orfeo II based on Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Berio often made use of multiple musical quotes and refernces to analyze, comment on, call into question, recompose, and create an incessant and fertile dialogue with history, his history which has now become our own.

Translation: Christopher Trapani.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2007

  • Solo (excluding voice)
  • Chamber music
    • Toccata for piano four hands (1939), 5 mn, pas d'éditeur
    • Tre Pezzi for three clarinets (1947), Inédit
    • Quintette à vent (1948), Inédit
    • Trio à cordes (1948), 10 mn, Inédit
    • Opus Number Zoo child's game for wind quintet (1951, 1970), 7 mn, Universal Edition
    • Sonatine for wind quartet (1951), 12 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Study for string quartet (1952, 1985), 9 mn, RCA Italiana
    • Quartetto for string quartet (1955), 7 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • Sincronie for string quartet (1963-1964), 15 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Due Pezzi for violin and piano (1951, 1966), 8 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • Autre fois canonical lullaby for Igor Stravinsky (1971), 60 s, Universal Edition
    • stage Linea for two pianos, vibraphone and marimba (1973), 15 mn, Universal Edition
    • Memory for electric piano and harpsichord (1970-1973), 13 mn, Universal Edition
    • Musica leggera canon in opposite movement and upside down, with a brief interlude (1974), 5 mn, Universal Edition
    • Duetti (34) for two violins (1979-1983), 40 mn, Universal Edition
    • Sequenza X for trumpet and resonant piano (1984), 10 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Call St. Louis Fanfare, for brass quintet (1985), 4 mn, Universal Edition
    • Divertimento for string trio (1985, 1946), Inédit
    • Terre chaleureuse for wind quintet (1985), Universal Edition
    • elec stage Naturale musical action on Sicilian melodies, for viola, tam-tam and recorded voice (1985-1986), 20 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Ricorrenze for wind quintet (1985-1987), 15 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Notturno string quartet n° 3 (1993), 23 mn, Universal Edition
    • Glosse for string quartet (1997), 6 mn, Universal Edition
    • Korót for eight cellos (1998), 9 mn, Universal Edition
    • Albumblatt for violin, accordion and double bass (2001), Inédit
  • Instrumental ensemble music
  • Concertant music
    • Concertino for clarinet, violin, celesta, harp and strings (1949, 1970), 11 mn, Universal Edition
    • Variazioni "ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" for two basset horns and strings (1956), 3 mn, Universal Edition
    • Serenata for flute and fourteen instruments (1957), 11 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • Tempi concertati for flute, violin, two pianos and ensemble (1958-1959), 17 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Chemins I on Sequenza II, for harp and orchestra (1964-1965), 12 mn, Universal Edition
    • Chemins II on Sequenza VI for viola and nine instruments (1967), 12 mn, Universal Edition
    • Chemins IIc for bass clarinet and orchestra (1972), 11 mn, Universal Edition
    • Chemins III on Chemins II, for viola, nine instruments and orchestra (1968, 1973), 15 mn, Universal Edition
    • Concerto pour deux pianos et orchestre (1972-1973), 25 mn, Universal Edition
    • Points on the Curve to Find... for piano and twenty-two instrumentalists (1974), 16 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Chemins IV on Sequenza VII, for oboe (or soprano saxophone) and eleven stringed instruments (2000, 1975), 11 mn, Universal Edition
    • Il Ritorno degli snovidenia for cello and thirty instruments (1976-1977), 19 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Corale on Sequenza VIII, for violin, two horns and strings (1981), 15 mn, Universal Edition
    • Voci Folk Songs II, for viola and two groups of instruments (1984), 30 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Brahms-Berio Opus 120 n.1 for clarinet (or viola) and orchestra (1984-1986), 25 mn, Universal Edition
    • Concerto II - Echoing curves for piano and two instrumental groups (1988-1989), 25 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Chemins V on Sequenza XI, for guitar and chamber orchestra (1992), 20 mn, Universal Edition
    • stage Compass ballet-recital for piano and orchestra (1994), 45 mn, Universal Edition
    • Kol Od Chemins VI, for trumpet and ensemble (1996), 20 mn, Universal Edition
    • Récit Chemins VII, for alto saxophone and orchestra (1996), 15 mn, Universal Edition
    • Alternatim double concerto for clarinet and viola (1996-1997), 30 mn, Universal Edition
    • SOLO for trombone and orchestra (1999-2000), 22 mn, Universal Edition
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • L'Annunciazione for soprano and chamber orchestra (1945-1946), Inédit
    • Tre Liriche Greche for voice and piano (1946), Inédit
    • Berio Family Album for piano four hands, female voice or female choir (1947), 29 mn, Universal Edition
    • Due Liriche for voice and orchestra (1947), Inédit
    • Ad Hermes for voice and piano (1948), 4 mn, Inédit
    • Due Pezzi sacri for two sopranos, piano, two harps, timpani and bells (1949), Inédit
    • Tre Vocalizzi for voice and piano (1950), Inédit
    • Camino for bass and orchestra (1951), 6 mn, Inédit
    • Deus meus for voice and three instruments (1951), 12 mn, Inédit
    • Quattro canzoni popolari for female voice and piano (1973, 1946-1952), 12 mn, Universal Edition
    • Chamber Music for female voice, cello, clarinet and harp (1953), 9 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • El Mar la mar reduction for two sopranos and piano (1950-1953), 12 mn, pas d'éditeur
    • Circles for female voice, harp and two percussions (1960), 20 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Passaggio messa in scena, by Luciano Berio and Edoardo Sanguineti, for soprano, double choir and orchestra (1961-1962), 30 mn about , Universal Edition [program note]
    • elec stage Esposizione opera for two high voices, a mezzo-soprano, a group of mimes and dancers, fourteen performers and tape (1962-1963), partition retirée du catalogue
    • Traces for soprano, mezzo-soprano, two actors, two choirs and orchestra (1963), 35 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Folk Songs for mezzo-soprano and seven instrumentalists (1964), 23 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec stage Laborintus II for voices, ensemble and tape (1965), 35 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Claudio Monteverdi, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda arrangement for soprano, tenor, baritone and ensemble (1966), 25 mn, Universal Edition
    • Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit from Die Dreigroschenoper by Kurt Weill, arranged for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (1967), 3 mn, Universal Edition
    • Beatles Songs arrangements for voice and ensemble (1965-1967), 8 mn, Universal Edition
    • O King for voice and five instruments (1967), 5 mn, Universal Edition
    • stage Allez hop racconto mimico , for mezzo-soprano, eight mimes, ballet and orchestra (1952-1959, 1968), 28 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • Prayer-Prière for voice and instruments ad libitum (1968), 15 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Sinfonia for eight solo voices and orchestra (1968), 35 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Air from Opera, for soprano and orchestra (1969), 7 mn, Universal Edition
    • El Mar la mar for soprano, mezzo-soprano and seven instruments (1952-1969), 12 mn, Universal Edition
    • Air from Opera, version for soprano and four instruments (1969-1970), 7 mn, Universal Edition
    • Melodramma from Opera, for tenor and instruments (1970), 15 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec stage Opera opera in three acts, for ten actors, soprano, tenor, baritone, vocal ensemble, extras, children and orchestra (1969-1970, 1977), 2 h, Universal Edition
    • Agnus included in Opera, for two sopranos, three clarinets and organ obbligato (1971), 5 mn, Universal Edition
    • Magnificat for two sopranos, choir, two pianos and ensemble (1949-1971), 13 mn, Schirmer
    • Ora for soprano, mezzo-soprano, flute, english horn, small choir, ensemble and orchestra (1971), 14 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • E vò Sicilian lullaby from Opera, for soprano and ensemble (1972), 4 mn, Universal Edition
    • Le Grand Lustucru arrangement of Marie Galante by Kurt Weil, for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (1993, 1967-1972), 3 mn, Universal Edition
    • Recital I (for Cathy) for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (1972), 35 mn, Universal Edition
    • Surabaya Johnny arrangement of a song from Happy End by Kurt Weill, for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (1972), 5 mn, Universal Edition
    • Folk songs version for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1964-1973), 23 mn, Universal Edition
    • Calmo in memoriam Bruno Maderna, for mezzo-soprano and twenty-two instruments (1974, 1989), 20 mn, Universal Edition
    • Diaro immaginario radio piece for voices, choir and orchestra (1975), 31 mn, Universal Edition
    • Coro for forty voices and orchestra (1974-1976), 58 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • La Vera storia opera in two acts on a libretto by Italo Calvino (1977-1978), 2 h, Universal Edition
    • Siete Canciones populares españolas arrangement for mezzo-soprano and orchestra after Manuel de Falla (1978), 18 mn, Universal Edition
    • Duo teatro immaginario for baritone, two violins, mixed choir and orchestra (1982), 30 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec ircam Orfeo II opera for voice, orchestras and tapes (1986, 1984), 60 mn about , pas d'éditeur
    • stage Un Re in ascolto two-part musical action (1979-1984), 1 h 30 mn, Universal Edition
    • Gustav Mahler, Fünf frühe Lieder for baritone and orchestra (1986), 13 mn, Universal Edition
    • Gustav Mahler, Sechs frühe lieder for baritone and orchestra (1987), 22 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec Ofanìm for female voice, two children's choirs and two instrumental groups (1997, 1988), 30 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • An die Musik, de Franz Schubert for choir and chamber orchestra (1989), Inédit
    • Canticum Novissimi Testamenti Ballata, for four clarinets, saxophone quartet and vocal octet (1989), 18 mn, Universal Edition
    • Otto romanze, de Giuseppe Verdi for tenor and orchestra (1990), 25 mn, Universal Edition
    • Epifanie for female voice and orchestra (1959-1962, 1965, 1991-1992), 40 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • Orchestration pour Rage et Outrage de George Whyte for voice and ensemble (1993), Ricordi
    • Twice upon ... wordless theater for six groups of children (1994), 20 mn, Ricordi
    • Hör prologue for the Requiem de la réconciliation, for choir and orchestra (1995), 5 mn, Universal Edition
    • Shofar for choir and orchestra (1995), 7 mn, Ricordi
    • stage Vor, während, nach Zaide commentary for an unfinished opera by W. A. Mozart on a libretto by J. A. Schachtner (1994-1995), 20 mn, Ricordi
    • elec stage Outis musical action in two parts (1995-1996), 1 h 55 mn, Ricordi
    • elec Altra voce for alto flute, soprano mezzo and electronics (1999), 11 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec stage Cronaca del luogo musical action (1999), 1 h 30 mn, Ricordi
    • Alois for baritone and orchestra (2001), Inédit
    • stage Puccini / Berio : Turandot supplement to the third act (final) (2001), Ricordi
    • Stanze for baritone, three small male choirs and orchestra (2003), 25 mn, Universal Edition
  • A cappella vocal music
  • Electronic music / fixed media / mechanical musical instruments
    • elec Mimusique n° 1 for magnetic tape (1953)
    • elec Ritratto di citta' for magnetic tape (1954), 30 mn
    • elec Perspectives for two-track magnetic tape (1957), 7 mn, Suvini Zerboni
    • elec Thema Omaggio a Joyce, for magnetic tape (1958), 6 mn, Suvini Zerboni [program note]
    • elec Visage for magnetic tape with the recorded voice of Cathy Berberian (1960-1961), 22 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec A-Ronne radio documentary for five actors (1974), 32 mn, Universal Edition [program note]
    • elec stage Per la dolce memoria di quel giorno music for a ballet by Maurice Béjart, for magnetic tape (recorded voice and orchestra) (1974), 1 h 20 mn, Universal Edition
    • elec ircam La Voix des voies sound slide show (1977), 52 mn, Universal Edition
  • Unspecified instrumentation


Bibliographie sélective

  • Philippe ALBÈRA (sous la dir. de), Contrechamps n° 1: Luciano Berio, Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983.
  • Philippe ALBÈRA, « Introduction aux neuf Sequenzas », dans Contrechamps n° 1 : Luciano Berio (Philippe Albèra, sous la dir. de), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 90-122.
  • Philippe ALBÈRA, Jacques DEMIERRE, « Entretien avec Luciano Berio » dans Contrechamps n° 1 : Luciano Berio (Philippe Albèra, sous la dir. de), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 60-66.
  • Luciano BERIO, Entretiens avec Rossana Dalmonte, traduit de l’italien et présenté par Martin Kaltenecker, Paris, Jean-Claude Lattès, coll. « Musiques & Musiciens », 1983, éd. originale : Intervista sulla musica, 1981, nouvelle éd. : Contrechamps, 2010.
  • Luciano BERIO, « Prospective musicale, recherche et activité du Studio de phonologie musicale de Radio-Milan », dans « Dossier Berio », Paris, Seuil, Musique en jeu n° 15, 1974, p. 60-63 [éd. ori. en ital. trad. présente Michèle Victor].
  • Luciano BERIO, « Aspects d’un artisanat formel », dans Contrechamps n° 1 *:*Luciano Berio (sous la dir. de Philippe Albèra), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 10-23, [éd. originale en ital., trad. fr. présente : Vincent Barras].
  • Luciano BERIO, « Dialogue entre toi et moi », dans Contrechamps n° 1 : Luciano Berio (sous la dir. de Philippe Albèra), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 139-144 [éd. originale en ital., trad. fr. présente : Vincent Barras].
  • Gianmario BORIO, Joachim NOLLER, « Berio, Luciano » (en allemand), MGG, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 2, Kasel, Basel, London, New York, Prag, Bärenreiter Metzler, 1999, p. 1296-1305.
  • Danielle COHEN-LEVINAS (textes réunis par), Omaggio a Luciano Berio, Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. « Musique et musicologie : les Dialogues », 2006.
  • Angela Ida DE BENEDICTIS (sous la dir. de), Luciano Berio. Nuove prospettive / New Perspectives, Atti del Convegno [actes du colloque], Sienne, Accademia Chigiana, 28-31 octobre 2008, éd. Olschki, Florence, 2012, avec des articles d’Umberto Eco, Giorgio Pestelli, Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Edoardo Sanguineti, Ulrich Mosch, Alessandro Arbo, Angela Carone, Pascal Decroupet, Marco Uvietta, Christoph Neidhöfer, Mila De Santis, Claudia Di Luzio, Angela Ida De Benedictis, John Dack, Maurizio Agamennone, Martin Scherzinger, Thomas Gartmann, Giordano Ferrari, Susanna Pasticci.
  • François DELALANDE, « L’Omaggio a Joyce de Luciano Berio », dans Musique en jeu n° 15 : Dossier Berio, Paris, Seuil, 1974, p. 45-54.
  • Célestin DELIÈGE, « Luciano Berio » ; « Luciano Berio, initiateur d’une nouvelle expressivité » ; « Luciano Berio, artisan d’un sérialisme réaliste », dans Cinquante ans de modernité musicale : de Darmstadt à l’Ircam, Sprimont, Mardaga, 2003, p. 185-194, p. 477-499 et p. 697-703.
  • Jacques DEMIERRE, « Circles : e.e. cummings lu par Luciano Berio », dans Contrechamps n° 1 : Luciano Berio (Philippe Albèra, sous la dir. de), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 123-180.
  • Mila DE SANTIS, « Luciano Berio e Edoardo Sanguinetti. Momenti di un percorso amoroso », dans L’Esperienza della musica, Nuova serie 4, A cura di Marco Gatto e Luca Lenzini, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2017, p. 167-178.
  • Claudia DI LUZIO, Vielstimmigkeit und Bedeutungsvielfalt im Musiktheater von Luciano Berio, éd. Schott, 2010, 466 pages.
  • Giordano FERRARI (sous la dir.), “Sequenza III” de Luciano Berio : “voglio le tue parole”, actes de la journée d’études tenue à l’Université Paris 8, 18 avril 2018, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2021.
  • Giordano FERRARI (sous la dir.), Le Théâtre musical de Luciano Berio. Tome 1 : de “Passagio à “La Vera Storia” [actes des six journées d’études, Paris et Venise entre 2010 et 2013], Paris, L’Harmattan, 2016.
  • Maxime JOSS, « Luciano Berio : dramaturgie et œuvre ouverte », dans L’Opéra au second XXe siècle, Musurgia, volume X/2, 2003, p. 7-27.
  • Simon MARSAN, « Laborintus II de Luciano Berio pensé comme un laboratoire social », K : Revue trans-européenne de philosophie et arts, 2021.
  • Flo MENEZES, Luciano Berio et la phonologie, une approche jakobsonienne de son œuvre, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Paris, Verlag PeterLang, coll. Publications universitaires européennes, 1993.
  • David OSMOND-SMITH, « Luciano Berio » (en anglais), dans Grove Music Online, éd. L. Macy.
  • David OSMOND-SMITH, « Joyce, Berio et l’art de l’explosition », dans dans Contrechamps n° 1 : Luciano Berio (sous la dir. de Philippe Albèra), Lausanne, L’Âge d’Homme, septembre 1983, p. 10-23 [éd. originale en angl., trad. fr. présente : Jacques Demierre].
  • David OSMOND-SMITH, « La mesure de la distance : Rendering de Berio » dans InHarmoniques, n° 7 : Musique et authenticité, janvier 1991, Ircam - Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1998.
  • David OSMOND-SMITH, Berio (en anglais), Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, coll. Oxford Studies of Composers, 1991.
  • David OSMOND-SMITH, Playing on Words : a Guide to Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, (en anglais) London, Royal Musical Association, 1985.
  • Alain POIRIER, Luciano Berio : Coro, Genève, Contrechamps, 2023.
  • Antonio PRETE, « Luciano Berio e il pensiero della forma: stile, lingua, mondo », dans L’Esperienza della musica, Nuova serie 4, A cura di Marco Gatto e Luca Lenzini, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2017, p. 159-166.
  • Enzo RESTAGNO, (sous la dir. de) (en italien) Berio, Torino, E.D.T., 1995.
  • Ivanka STOIANOVA, Luciano Berio : Chemins en musique, Paris, La Revue Musicale n° 375-377, 1985.
  • Giulia SARNO, Una storia di Tempo Reale. Carte e memorie intorno a un’esperienza fiorentina di ricerca musicale (1987-2022), Rome, Squilibri, 2023.
  • Peter SZENDY, « Un roi à l’écoute » dans L’Opéra éclaté : la dramaturgie musicale entre 1969 et 1984, Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. Arts 8, 2005, p. 171-179.

Discographie sélective

  • Luciano BERIO, « Coro / Cries Of London », Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Grete Pedersen : direction, 1 SACD BIS, 2020, BIS-2391 SACD.
  • Luciano BERIO, « Chemins », 2 CD bastille musique, 2019, 11.
  • Luciano BERIO, Duetti per due violini ; Due pezzi per violine e pianoforte ; Sequenza VIII ; Corale su Sequenza VIII, Joseph Puglia : violon, dans « Ladder Of Escape 14: Violin », 1 CD Attacca, 2016, ATT 2016147.
  • Luciano BERIO, « Laborintus II », 1 CD Ipecac Recordings, 2012, IPC133.
  • Luciano BERIO, « Orchestral Realisations », Sechs frühe Lieder d’après Mahler ; Rendering, d’après Schubert ; Sonata Op. 120 n° 1, d’après Brahms, Roderick Williams : baryton, Michael Collins : clarinette, Orchestre philharmonique de Bergen, direction : Edward Gardner, 1 sacd Chandos, 2012.
  • Luciano BERIO, I. Ekphrasis [Continuo II]; II.Coro, Orchestre symphonique de la Radio de Francfort, direction : Luciano Berio (I), Chœur et Orchestre symphonique de la Radio Bayerischen Rundfunks, direction : Lucas Vis (II), World Premiere Recording, 1 cd col legno, 2011, WWE 20038.
  • Luciano BERIO, Différences dans « Works for chamber orchestra », avec des œuvres de Luigi Nono et Bruno Maderna, Seymour Barab, Jacques Castagner, Walter Lewis, Bruno Maderna, Francis Pierre, Walter Trampler, The English Chamber Orchestra, direction : Luciano Berio, 1 cd Schott Wergo Music Media, coll. « Earle Brown contemporary sound series », 2009, Mainz [LP original de 1961, Earle Brown Music Foundation].
  • Luciano BERIO, Folk songsChamber music : after James Joyce, avec une œuvre d’Edison Denissov, Ensemble für neue Musik Zürich, Hedwig Fassbender, Jürg Henneberger, 1 cd Therwil - Hat Hut Records, 2009,, La vie en rouge [enregistrement : Zürich, DRS Radiostudio, 1993]. 
  • Luciano BERIO, « Orchestral Works » : 1. Chemins I ; 2. Chemins IIb ; 3*. Concerto* pour deux pianos et orchestre ; 4. Formazioni, Anna Verkholantseva : harpe, GrauSchuhmacher Piano Duo, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, direction : Martyn Brabbins (1 et 2), Bertrand de Billy (3), Stefan Asbury (4), 1 cd col legno, 2008, WWE 20281.
  • Luciano BERIO, Circles ; Sequenza I ; Sequenza III ; Sequenza V, Cathy Berberian, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Jean Pierre Drouet, Vinko Globokar, Aurèle Nicolet, Francis Pierre, 1 cd Wergo, 2007, WER 60212.
  • *Luciano BERIO, Canticum novissimi testamenti *;A-Ronne, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, ensemble newears 4 clarinets, ensemble XASAX, direction : Peter Rundel, 1 cd Wergo, 2006, WER 66782.
  • Luciano BERIO, Sinfonia ; Ekphrasis, London Voices, Orchestre symhonique de Göteborg, direction : Peter Eötvös, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2005, réédition en 2012.
  • Luciano BERIO, « Œuvres pour piano » (Intégrale) : Cinque variazioni ; Rounds ; Six Encores ; Sequenza IV ; Petite Suite ; Sonata , Francesco Tristano Schlimé, piano, Sisyphe, 2005, SISYPHE005.
  • Luciano BERIO, Voci ; Naturale, Kim Kashkashian : alto, Robyn Schulkowsky : percussion, Orchestre symphonique de la radio de Vienne, direction : Dennis Russell Davies, 1 cd ECM New Series, 2001, 1735 461 808-2.
  • Luciano BERIO, Laborintus 2, Ensemble Musique Vivante, direction : Luciano Berio, 1 cd Harmonia Mundi, coll. « Musique d’abord », 1970, 2000, HMA 195764.
  • Luciano BERIO, Sequenzas (Intégrale), solistes de l’Ensemble intercontemporain, 3 cds, Deutsche Grammophon, 1998, 457 038-2, réédition en 2011
  • Luciano BERIO, Les grandes œuvres pour voix, volume 1 : Folk Songs ; Sequenza III ; Chamber Music ; O King ; Circles, Christine Shadeberg : soprano, Musician’s Accord, 1 cd, 1998, MODE48.
  • Luciano BERIO, Folk Songs ; Sequenza 6, Pierre BOULEZ, *Dérive,*Luisa Castellani : soprano, Giuliani : alto, Vittorio Ceccanti : violoncelle, Contemporarensemble, direction : Mauro Ceccanti, 1 cd Arts, 1997, 473762.
  • Luciano BERIO, Un Re in ascolto, Orchestre philharmonique de Vienne, direction : Lorin Maazel, enregistrement live au Festival de Salzbourg le 7 août 1984, 2 cds col legno, 1997, WWE 20005.
  • Luciano BERIO, Corale ; Chemins II & IV ; Ritorno degli Snovidenia ; Points of the Curve to Find, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Sony, 1990, SK 45 862.
  • Luciano BERIO, Sinfonia ; Eindrücke, Orchestre National de France, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Erato, 1986, ECD 88151.
  • Luciano BERIO*, Coro*, Orchestre symphonique et chœur de la Radio de Cologne, direction : Luciano Berio, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, 1980, 423 903-2, rééditions Deutsche Grammophon 2002 et Brilliant Classics, 2009, n° 5018.
  • Luciano BERIO, Difference ; Sequenza III ; Sequenza VII ; Due pezzi pour violon et piano;Chamber Music, Cathy Berberian : voix, 
Heinz Holliger : hautbois, Juilliard Ensemble, direction : Luciano Berio, enregistrement à Londres le 4 juin 1979, 1 cd Philips Classics Productions
 426 662, réédition, Lilith, 2007.


  • Frank SCHEFFER, Gustav Mahler, Attrazion D’Amore ; Luciano Berio, Voyage to Cytheria, Orchestre du Concertgebrouw d’Amsterdam, direction : Riccardo Chailly,1 dvd Allegri Film, coll. « Juxtapositions », Ideale Audience, 2005.
  • Andy SOMMER, Hommage à Luciano Berio, avec les œuvres Circles ; Psy ; Sequenza II ; Sequenza IV ; Sequenza VII, membres de L’Itinéraire (Roula Safar : mezzo-soprano, Isabelle Cornelis et Christophe Bredeloup : percussion, Virginie Tarrête : harpe, Fuminori Tanada : piano, Philippe Grauvogel : hautbois, Yann Dubost : contrebasse, Jean-Loup Graton : direction artistique, 1 dvd Les Films Pénélope, coproduction France 3 - Mezzo - Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, 2004, 54’56”.

Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en mai 2023).