Berio, Luciano, 1925-2003, Italian composer, b. Oneglia. After studying at the Milan Conservatory and working as a coach and conductor in Italian opera houses, Berio was introduced in 1952 to serial music by Luigi Dallapiccola, and a nondoctrinaire serialism subsequently pervaded his music. In 1954, he began working in electronic music at Milan Radio with Bruno Maderna, and founded the Studio di Fonologia Musicale, an important electronic music center. Despite the uncompromising modernism of his innovative and analytically avant-garde compositions, their richly sensuous sound colorings and dramatic power made them popular with concert audiences.

Among Berio's many works are Sequenzas I-XIII (1957-94), each a virtuoso piece for a different solo instrument and one (1966) for the soprano voice; Circles, settings of poems of E. E. Cummings for mezzo-soprano, harp, and percussion; several pieces with texts taken from James Joyce's work; Visage (1961), for electronically manipulated voice; Sinfonia (1968), for orchestra and voices; Opera (1970, rev. 1977), for mixed media; La vera storia (1982), an opera with acrobats and a wordless soprano; Ofanim (1988), for voices, instruments, and electronics; and two operas, Outis (1996) and Cronaca del Luogo (1999). In the late 1980s Berio, who was also an influential teacher, founded the Centro Tempo Reale, a Florence new music center for research, production, and training.

Epifanie is a musical composition in twelve movements by the Italian composer Luciano Berio.

In Italian an epifania (plural: epifanie, with both forms accented on the second "i") indicates a sudden spiritual manifestation (See: Epiphany). Berio composed his Epifanie between 1960 and 1963, and published a revised version in 1965. It consists of seven short orchestral pieces, and five vocal pieces. Berio stipulates the possibility of performing these in ten different sequences. When the American premiere of Epifanie took place in Chicago on July 23, 1967, he said:

Epifanie is, in essence, a cycle of orchestral pieces into which a cycle of vocals pieces has been interpolated. The two 'cycles' can be combined together in various ways; they can also be performed separately. The texts of the vocal pieces have been taken from Proust (À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs), Antonio Machado (Nuevas Canciones), Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses), Edoardo Sanguineti (Triperuno), Claude Simon (La route des Flandres), and Brecht (An die Nachgeborenen).

The significant connection between the vocals pieces can thus appear in different lights according to their position in the instrumental development. The chosen order will emphasize the apparent heterogeneity of the texts or their dialectic unity. The texts are arranged in such a way as to suggest a gradual passage from a lyric transfiguration of reality (Proust, Machado, Joyce) to a disenchanted acknowledgment of things (Simon; for this text the voice speaks and becomes gradually nullified by the orchestra). Lastly, the words of Bertolt Brecht, which have nothing to do with the epiphany of words and visions. They are the cry of regret and anguish with which Brecht warns us that often it is necessary to renounce the seduction of words when they sound like an invitation to forget our links to a world constructed by our own acts.

The score calls for an unusually large orchestra: 16 woodwinds; 6 horns, 4 trumpets and 4 trombones plus tuba, full strings, including three violin sections, and a percussion section calling for a number of performers who address themselves not only to glockenspiel, celesta, vibraphone and marimba but also to spring coils, tamtam, tom-tom, temple blocks, wood blocks, caisse claire, bongos, timpani, cowbells, chimes, claves, guiro, censerros, cymbals, snare drum, tambourine, etc.


  • Backsleeve of RCA 1967 record LSC-3189
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