from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sequenze (Italian: plural of the singularsequence) denotes a cycle of works by the Italian composer Luciano Berio (1925–2003). Sequence III for female voice “sets” a text by the Swiss writer Markus Kutter .

Historical background

One of the characteristics of the music of the 20th century is the search for new, unused possibilities of expression: this includes in particular the research and invention of new playing practices of the individual instruments, as exemplified by Schönberg in the development of spoken song .

In the search for a redefinition of the musical material, the role of the instrument in general changes: it is no longer just a tonal appearance and expressive carrier of musical thought, but is also included in the functions of the material itself.

The technical and tonal sounding out of the possibilities of the individual instruments (and of course their combinations) becomes a compositional challenge of eminent importance. In his Sequenze , Berio took on the appeal of this task in a whole, successive cycle.

The cycle

  • Sequence I for flute (1958)
  • Sequence II for harp (1963)
  • Sequence III for female voice (1965–66)
  • Sequence IV for piano (1965–66)
  • Sequence V for trombone (1965)
  • Sequence VI for viola (1967)
  • Sequence VII for oboe (1969)
  • Sequence VIII for violin (1976-77)
  • Sequence IXa for clarinet (1980)
  • Sequence IXb for alto saxophone (1981)
  • Sequence X for trumpet in C and piano resonance (1984)
  • Sequence XI for guitar (1987-88)
  • Sequence XII for bassoon (1995)
  • Sequence XIII ( chanson ) for accordion (1995–96)
  • Sequence XIV ( dual ) for violoncello (2001-02)

In-house processing

Berio has reused the material of several sequences and made versions for solo instrument and ensemble, the cycle Chemins (with the subtitle see belowsequence ), whereby the solo parts are partly identical to, partly variants of the Sequenze. However, arrangements of Sequenze also have other titles.

  • Chemins I susequence II for harp and orchestra (1965)
  • Chemins II (1967) was derived from Sequence VI (1967) and is for viola and ensemble (9 players). Chemins II became Chemins III (1968) with the addition of an orchestra. There is also Chemins IIb (1970), a version of Chemins II without the solo viola but with a larger ensemble (34 players), and Chemins IIc , identical to Chemins IIb but with a bass clarinet as a solo instrument (1972).
  • Chemins III see below Chemins II see sequence VI for viola, ensemble and orchestra (1968).
  • Chemins IV susequence VII for oboe and 11 strings (1975)
  • Chemins V for clarinet and digital system (1980) abandoned / withdrawn.
  • Chemins Vsequence XI for guitar and chamber orchestra (1992)
  • "Kol-Od" - Chemins VI see Sequencea X (1995–96) for trumpet and groups of instruments
  • "Recit" - Chemins VII susequence IXb for alto saxophone and small orchestra (1996)
  • Corale susequence VIII (1981), for violin, 2 horns and strings.

About the termsequence

"The title Sequenzen underlines the fact that the composition of the pieces almost always starts from a sequence of harmonic fields from which the other musical functions also emerge with a high degree of characteristics." (Berio 1998, p. 23)

The desired impression of polyphonic listening, even with monophonic instruments, is already foreseen in tradition: in Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin or his cello suites, polyphonic thinking asserts itself as linear counterpoint . Berio extends it to include the interlacing of technical and tonal aspects.

“Almost all sequences actually follow the common goal of clarifying and developing a melodic path that is essentially harmonic. ... Polyphony is understood here in a figurative sense, as demonstration and superimposition of modes of action and of different instrument characters. "(Berio 1998, p. 23)

The common characteristic of all sequences is their virtuoso basic trait. The aspect of instrumental technique addressed not only outlines instrumental busyness in the narrower sense, but is also intended to encompass the entire relationship between the virtuoso and his instrument.

“The best soloists of our time - modern in their intelligence, their sensitivity, their technique - are also capable of moving in a broad historical perspective and relieving the tensions between the creative impulses of yesterday and today: they use their instruments as a means to Search and express one. Her virtuosity is not limited to manual skills or philological specialization. Even if it happens with different degrees of sharpness of consciousness - they can only devote themselves to the only virtuosity that applies today: that of sensitivity and intelligence. ... That is perhaps also a reason why I have never tried in any of my sequences to change the genome of an instrument or to use it against its own nature. "(Berio 1998, p. 24f)

The mottos of Edoardo Sanguineti

In his collection of poems, Corollario , the Italian poet Edoardo Sanguineti , with whom Berio often collaborated, published a series of mottos for the first twelve sequences under the title Sequentia , which was later expanded (Sanguineti 1997, p. 73f):

  1. and here begins your desire, which is the delusion of my desire: / music is the desire of desires:
  2. I've heard chains of colors, muscular and aggressive: / I've touched your rough, harsh noises:
  3. I want your words: and I want to destroy them, in a hurry, your words: / and I want to destroy myself, me, finally, really:
  4. I draw myself against your many mirrors, I change myself with my veins / with my feet: I close myself in all your eyes:
  5. I ask you: why, why? and I'm the dry grimace of a clown / why do you want to know, I ask you why I ask you why?
  6. my moody anger has been your pale calm / my song will be your slow silence
  7. Your profile is one of my raging landscapes, kept at a distance / it is a false fire of love that is low: dead
  8. I have multiplied my voices for you, my words, my vowels / and I scream, now that you are my vocative
  9. a: you are unstable and immobile, my fragile fractal / you are this, my broken form that trembles
    b: my fragile form, you are impermanent and immobile: / it is you, that broken fractal of mine that returns and that trembles:
  10. describe my limits and enclose me in echoes, in reflexes / in the long run and at ease, you become me, you, for me
  11. I find you again, my childish, inconsistent pseudo-dance / I close you in a circle: and I interrupt you, break you
  12. I move quietly, quietly, I reveal you, I explore your faces, I feel you, thoughtful: / I turn you and turn back and forth, changing you, trembling: I torture you, terribly:
  13. And so a chord that closes us in a friendly way comforts us: / the catastrophe is right in the middle of it, is in the heart: but it remains fenced in there:

Sequence III

The Sequenza III (for female voice), the following text from Markus Kutter basis:

Give me
a few words
for a woman
to sing a truth
allowing us
to build
a house
without worrying
before night comes

The words are, however, widely distributed throughout the piece and are sometimes repeated. In addition, the piece contains tones to be sung without text as well as noises to be performed by the singer , including various forms of laughter .


  • Berio, Luciano: Sequenze. In: CD accompanying text booklet (booklet) for the complete recording of the Sequenze at DGG, Hamburg 1998
  • Halfyard, Janet K .: Berio'ssequences Essays on Performance, Composition and Analysis, ASHGATE 2007
  • Sanguineti, Edoardo: Corollario. Poetry 1992–96 , Feltrinelli Editore, Milan 1997



  1. The piece was nicknamed Dual at the premiere (see: Program booklet of the “Witten Days for New Chamber Music 2002” (pp. 75–77) ISBN 3-89727-182-6 ). Berio thoroughly revised it before going to press and apparently removed the nickname.