Luciano Berio – biographical notes
by Daniele Vergni
Luciano Berio (Oneglia, Imperia, October 24, 1925 – Rome, May 27, 2003), composer and conductor, has been a pioneer in composing for electronic and electro-acoustic music. He had first approached music in his own family, then studied at the Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan, attending the department of composition with Giulio Cesare Paribeni and Giorgio Federico Ghedini, and that of conducting with Carlo Maria Giulini and Antonio Votto. The first public performance of a piece by him (suite for piano) took place in 1947. In 1951 he studied with Luigi Dallapiccola in Tanglewood, United States; in 1954 he attended the summer courses in Darmstadt, joining the musical avant-garde of those years – Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, György Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel and others. Berio took such a great interest in electronic music that the following year, in Milan, with Bruno Maderna, he founded the Studio di Fonologia della RAI, for the production of electronic music, where also foreign composers such as John Cage recorded and composed. In 1956 he founded the periodical Incontri Musicali of which four issues were published between ’56 and 1960. In the sixties he was back in the United States and he was appointed a professorship first at Mills College in Oakland, California, then in 1956 at Juillard School in New York, where he created the Juillard Ensemble, a group devoted to the execution of contemporary music. In 1966 he was awarded the Prix Italia with Laborinthus II; in 1972 he produced and presented C’è musica e musica at RAI, a TV documentary directed by Gianfranco Mingozzi and edited by Vittoria Ottolenghi. On Pierre Boulez’ request, between 1974 and 1980 in Paris he directed the electro-acoustic division of IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) and in 1987 he created in Florence Tempo Reale, a centre for the production, research and teaching, for the application of new technologies to music.