COVID-19 Update

Despite the problems caused by the Corona-virus our Webshop and the contact forms on our website are fully available. You may also address your inquiries to Thank you for your understanding if our answer takes longer as usual because of the current restrictions. Your Universal Edition Team

Luciano Berio: Folk Songs

  • for mezzo-soprano and orchestra
  • 2 1 3 1 - 1 1 1 0 - perc(2), hp, str
  • Duration: 23’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute (+picc)
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    bass clarinet in Bb
    horn in F
    trumpet in C
    violin I
    violin II
  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Table of contents:
    Black is the colour (USA)
    I wonder as I wander (USA)
    Loosin yelav (Armenia)
    Rossignolet du bois (France)
    A la femminisca (Sicily)
    La donna ideale (Italy)
    Ballo (Italy)
    Motettu de Tristura (Sardinia)
    Malorous qu'o un fenno (Auvergne [France])
    Lo fiolaire (Auvergne [France])
    Azerbaijan love song (Aserbaijan)
  • Dedication: to Cathy

Stage performances

Work specifications

Contact person


Please, check again the information supplied by you.

We will send you an offer for a license agreement specifying ourt terms and conditions.
It is at UE discretion to grant you a permission on basis of the information supplied by you.
The transmission of your request does not represent a claim to the grant of a license.

Work introduction

I have always sensed a profound uneasiness while listening to popular songs performed with piano accompaniment. This is one of the reasons why, in 1964, I wrote Folk Songs - a tribute to the artistry and the vocal intelligence of Cathy Berberian. This work exists in two versions: one for voice and seven players (flute/piccolo, clarinet, two percussions, harp, viola, cello), the other for voice and orchestra (1973).

It is an anthology of eleven folk songs of various origins (United States, Armenia, France, Sicily, Sardinia, etc.), chosen from old records, printed anthologies, or heard sung from folk musicians and friends. I have given the songs a new rhythmic and harmonic interpretation: in a way, I have recomposed them. The instrumental part has an important function: it is meant to underline and comment on the expressive and cultural roots of each song. Such roots signify not only the ethnic origins of the songs but also the history of the authentic uses that have been made of them.

Two of the eleven songs (“La donna ideale” and “Ballo”) are only intentionally popular: I composed them myself in 1947 to anonymous Genoese and Sicilian texts.

Luciano Berio


Sample pages

World première

Zürich (CH)
Collegium Musicum Zürich
Luciano Berio
Main soloists:
Cathy Berberian

Previously Viewed Works

No previously viewed works