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Universal Edition - The Ninth of March, by Berio and Birtwistle

The Ninth of March, by Berio and Birtwistle

Posted on 09 March 2012

Harrison Birtwistle (photo: Eric Marinitsch)

Harrison Birtwistle’s Silbury Air for chamber ensemble was given its world première on 9 March 1977 by the London Sinfonietta.

“Silbury Air is named after Silbury Hill, a prehistoric mound in Wiltshire, the biggest artificial mound in Europe, being 125 feet high and covering more than five acres. Its use and purpose, after centuries of speculation, still remain a mystery.”

(Harrison Birtwistle)

“A vigorous and eventful fifteen minute piece, full of sharp motoric rhythms that (until the very end) tend to accelerate.

The result is dramatic and immediately exciting, contradicting in its vitality the idea of static blocks of sound on which Birtwistle has usually relied, but equally showing the firmest possible architectural sense, with each section relating naturally and satisfyingly to the rest. With so much argument crammed into so relatively short a span, it is a work that cries out for early repetition.”

(Edward Greenfield, The Guardian 10.03.1977)



Luciano Berio’s La vera storia (Azione musicale in 2 parti) was given its world première on 9 March 1982 at the Scala in Milan.

“To say what happens in La Vera Storia is not easy, and I don’t know that it’s all that useful, granted that this is a work which tells its own story … If I weren’t afraid of being misunderstood or appearing rude, I wouldn’t even have written these lines.“

(Luciano Berio)

Wolfgang Schreiber said of the première: “Berio’s theme is tension, and the violent conflict between individual and state or society, of people and power, of freedom and authority.”

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