Only those already familiar with Berio's avant-garde compositions, and with the often-jargony vocabulary of postwar...



Only those already familiar with Berio's avant-garde compositions, and with the often-jargony vocabulary of postwar music/culture theory, will extract much from this slight volume of 1980-81 interviews. Berio, who revised most of the taped transcripts to produce a more lecture-like text, discusses the sociology of music, with critical attention to Marxist theories, to the seminal work of Theodor Adorno. (""My hackles rise when I hear young Italian would-be-Adornos passing summary and disdainful judgement on those large portions of humanity who dare to acknowledge a consolatory dimension in music."") He recalls his early influences: Rilke, Ibsen, Romain Rolland, and, somewhat surprisingly, Puccini--who ""introduced the rhythm and the psychological mobility of everyday life into the musical theatre."" Berio touches on his first compositions, the interaction with the Darmstadt serialists, with musico-theorist Luigi Dallapiccola, with Boulez, Stockhausen, Pousseur, and Maderna--as the questions-and-answers become more studied and opaque. (Q: ""But there is one aspect of the serial experience of those years that has preserved, even developed, very deep roots in you."" A: ""You're thinking of my short-lived adoption of those rigorous and abstract combinatorial processes that the Americans call pre-composition--for example, the famous 'magic quares' that Bruno [Maderna] used in his Quartetto per archi, as I also did in a rather desultory way in my Serenata--essentially arbitrary and only weakly directional conglomerations that were then filtered by selective rhythmic models. . . and by durational proportions."") And further conversations turn to individual Berio works, with their special vocal demands, to electronic music, improvisation, and teaching--with old-fashioned respect for counterpoint: ""I don't yet know of any other means of getting a student to train himself systematically in linking up his brain and his ears."" Not anything like an introduction for generally knowledgeable music-readers, then--but post-serialism specialists will appreciate the challenging conversation and the complete catalog of Berio works.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 1984


Page Count: -

Publisher: Marion Boyars--dist. by Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1984