One of the leading Italian composers of the post-World War II period, Luciano Berio (1925-2003) was influenced to varying degrees by most of the major currents in 20th-century music including neoclassicism, serialism and electronic music. His most famous work is Sinfonia, for orchestra and amplified solo voices, from the late 1960s. Controversially, its middle movement includes substantial chunks from Mahler’s Symphony No 2 and bits and pieces from works by Debussy, Stravinsky, Brahms and others. Between 1958 and 2002 Berio composed more than a dozen highly virtuosic works for solo instruments, all of which have the generic title Sequenza. Sequenza II, for example, is for harp. Sequenza XIII is for accordion. Berio’s first wife was the American soprano Cathy Berberian, for whom he wrote a number of works including the Folk Songs and Sequenza III. One of his last projects was completing Act III of Puccini’s unfinished opera Turandot. Berio took as his point of departure sketches left by Puccini at the time of his death. The work was premièred at Las Palmas in 2002 and performed at the Salzburg Festival later that year.
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