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Berio’s Folk Songs at the Salzburg Festival

Reading time: 2 min. Luciano Berio

“Black is the colour of my true love’s hair”. This is how Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs begin, compiled in 1963 and 1964 for his favourite interpreter – and at that time, his wife – Cathy Berberian. They are not a folk song collection in the conventional sense, but rather an anthology of 11 folk songs or songs of folk-like character. The characters and themes of the individual songs are as diverse as their sources and origins.

Berio, who accorded the human voice a special role in his works, set himself the goal of ‘exposing and commenting on the expressive, the cultural roots of each song’. The Folk Songs reveal the infinite variety of timbral possibilities available to the human voice with the aid of various folk music practices.




On 5 and 6 August Marianne Crebassa is singing the Folk Songs with the Vienna Philharmonic at this year’s Salzburg Festival under Esa-Pekka Salonen.

View the full score

Folk Songs