Luciano Berio: Coro

Luciano Berio Coro

Luciano Berio: Coro

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for 40 voices and instruments
Luciano Berio
Text author:
Pablo Neruda; u. a.
10S, 10A, 10T, 10B
4 2 4 3 - 3 4 3 1 - perc(2), pno,, alto sax, t.sax, vln(3), vla(4), vc(4), cb(3)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute
4th flute
cor anglais
clarinet in Eb
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
bass clarinet in Bb
alto saxophone in Eb
tenor saxophone in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
3rd trumpet in C
4th trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
bass tuba (+t.tuba(Bb))
1th percussion
2nd percussion
electric organ
1st violin
2nd violin
3rd violin
1st viola
2nd viola
3rd viola
4th viola
1st violoncello
2nd violoncello
3rd violoncello
4th violoncello
1st contrabass
2nd contrabass
3rd contrabass
Commisisione della Westdeutscher Rundfunk di Cologna Prima esecuzione assoluta a Donaueschingen nel 1976
to Talia
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

In Coro, I returned to folk music which, in an explicit manner, had already been the basis of my Folk Songs (1964) and my Questo vuol dire che (1970). In Coro, however, there are no quotations or transformations of actual folk songs (with the exception of Episode VI where a Yugoslav melody is used and Episode XVI where I quote a melody from my Cries of London of 1974/1976) but rather, here and there, there is a development of folk techniques and modes which are combined without any reference to specific songs. It is the musical function of those techniques and modes that is continuously transformed in Coro.

There is, in addition to the folk element, a rather wide range of techniques. The general structure of the work is that of a substantial epic and narrative form made up of mostly self-contained and often contrasting episodes. The same text can occur several times with different music, or the same musical model can occur several times with different texts. Coro is also an anthology of different modes of ‘setting to music’, hence to be listened to as an ‘open project’ in the sense that it could continue to generate ever different situations and relationships. It is like the plan for an imaginary city which is realised on different levels, which produces, assembles and unifies different things and persons, revealing their collective and individual characters, their distance, their relationships and conflicts within real and ideal borders.

The specific placing of the singers and instruments on the concert podium (with a singer each sitting next to an instrumentalist) serves to enhance acoustically and visually the wide range of interaction among voices and instruments.

Of the different levels in Coro, the harmonic one is perhaps the most important; it is the work’s base but is at the same time its environment and its slowly changing landscape. A landscape, a sound base that generates ever different events (songs, heterophony, polyphony, etc), musical images engraved like graffiti on the harmonic wall of the city. The texts of Coro are set on two different and complementary levels: a folk level based on texts about love and work, and an epic level on a poem by Pablo Neruda (“Residencia en la Tierra”) which puts in perspective that very love and work.

Luciano Berio

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Luciano Berio: Coro

full score
for 40 voices and instruments , 60’
Instr.: 4 2 4 3 - 3 4 3 1 - perc(2), pno,, alto sax, t.sax, vln(3), vla(4), vc(4), cb(3)

Next performances

31 Aug


MaSchinenhalle Zweckel, Gladbeck (DE)

01 Sep


MaSchinenhalle Zweckel, Gladbeck (DE)

02 Apr


Opéra de Lausanne, Lausanne (CH)

03 Apr


Opéra de Lausanne, Lugano (CH)

05 Apr


Opéra de Lausanne, Genf (CH)

World première

Donaueschingen (DE)
WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln
Luciano Berio

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