Remembering the Future

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Harvard University Press, May 30, 2006 - Music - 141 pages

In Remembering the Future Luciano Berio shares with us some musical experiences that “invite us to revise or suspend our relation with the past and to rediscover it as part of a future trajectory.” His scintillating meditation on music and the ways of experiencing it reflects the composer’s profound understanding of the history and contemporary practice of his art.

There is much in this short book that provides insight on Berio’s own compositions. Indeed, he comments that writing it “led me to formulate thoughts that might otherwise have remained concealed in the folds of my work.” He explores themes such as transcription and translation, poetics and analysis, “open work,” and music theater. The reader will also find here numerous insights on the work of other composers, past and present, and much more. A figure of formidable intellect, Berio ranges easily among topics such as Schenkerian analysis, the criticism of Carl Dahlhaus and Theodor Adorno, the works of his friends and sometime collaborators Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco. But Berio carries his learning lightly—his tone is conversational, often playful, punctuated by arresting aphorisms: “The best possible commentary on a symphony is another symphony.”

Remembering the Future is the text of Berio’s Charles Eliot Norton Lectures of 1993–94, now made available for the first time.



Chapter 1 Formations
Chapter 2 Translating Music
Chapter 3 Forgetting Music
Chapter 4 O Alter Duft
Chapter 5 Seeing Music
Chapter 6 Poetics of Analysis

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About the author (2006)

A musician and composer, Luciano Berio was born in Oneglia, near Genoa, Italy. Music was an intrinsic part of his childhood. His father was his first teacher, instructing him on the organ and piano. At the age of 15, Berio went to the Milan Conservatory, where he studied composition and conducting. After graduation, he worked for a short period as a voice coach and conductor in several Italian opera houses and composed several pieces, including Due Pezzi, for violin and piano (1951); Variazioni, for piano (1952); and Chamber Music, for voice, clarinet, cello, and harp, based on poems by James Joyce. While at the Berkshire Music Center at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, Berio studied composition with Luigi Dallapiccola. Dallapiccola introduced Berio to the artistic potentials of 12-tone music and serialism. Variations for Chamber Orchestra (1953); Nones, for orchestra (1954); and Allelujah 1, for orchestra (1956) are characterized as controlled serialism. In 1954 Berio returned to Milan, where he founded the Studio di Fonologia Musicale in order to experiment with electronic music. He incorporated electronic sounds into such compositions as Mutazioni (1955); Omaggio a Joyce (1958), based on Chapter 11 of Joyce's Ulysses; and Momento (1958). Berio no longer confined music to pitched sound; he embraced the world of sound and experimented with and used sounds of all kinds in his compositions. Visage (1960) was the last piece of music that Berio wrote during this period of experimentation with electronics at his Milan studio. In 1960 Berio returned to the United States. He taught music at Mills College at Oakland, California, and Harvard University before settling at the Julliard School of Music in New York.

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