LUCIANO BERIO’S NATURALE: A STORY COMBINING FOLK MUSIC AND ART MUSIC
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The study of a score by a serious performer is a fundamental step in the process of arriving at a knowledgeable and deeply informed approach to performing a piece of music. In order to obtain this knowledge numerous aspects of the score must be taken into consideration. It is the intent of this dissertation to gather and analyze the information concerning Naturale, a work written by Luciano Berio in 1985 for viola, percussion and recorded voice, based on Sicilian folk songs. All the aspects surrounding Naturale’s existence are taken into consideration in this study. First, it is important to reflect on Berio’s compositional style and traits, the manner in which he relates his works one to another, what he sees in folk music and his own personal desire to intertwine art music and folk music. For Berio Naturale is not an isolated venture into the realm of mixing folk music and his own avant-garde style; it is instead one of many works resulting from his long-standing relationship with folk music. Another essential aspect in this case is the study of Sicilian folk music itself, and the sources used by Berio to find the songs by which he was inspired. The work is examined section by section with figures showing both excerpts of Naturale as well as the original songs with their translations. An analysis containing harmonic, thematic and formal aspects of the score was developed in order to arrive at a better understanding of the structure and pacing of the piece. For this research the author went to Italy to conduct an interview with Maestro Aldo Bennici, the Sicilian violist for whom Naturale was composed. This interview helped in the discovery of two more songs used by Berio that have not to this point been identified in any other document. Bennici’s outstanding testimony portrayed the expressive character of this music and the evocative imagery behind this score. I hope to bring this knowledge to other performers, that they may fully understand and appreciate the unique beauty and power of Berio’s Naturale.