O King

Reading time: 1 min. Luciano Berio


The murder of Martin Luther King on 4 April 1968 moved Luciano Berio in the same year to compose a short piece in memorium, its text consisting of King’s name only: O King was premièred exactly 50 years ago – and a month after the death of the American pastor and civil-rights activist –  by the Aeolian Chamber Players at Bowdoin College in Maine.

The music is neither an overt statement of grief when confronted by tragedy, nor a statement of personal political and social involvement. Rather the composer finds a more subtle, even ‘lyrical’ way of expressing both of these and reflecting those principles for which Martin Luther King stood.


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