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Italian Composer Luciano Berio Dies at Age 77

Luciano Berio, one of the most important figures in the latter half of the twentieth-century musical avant-garde, died Tuesday in a Rome hospital, according to the Associated Press. He was 77.

The cause of death was not immediately available, but a spokesperson for the National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome told the AP that Berio, chairman and superintendent of St. Cecilia since September 2000, was admitted to Gemelli Polyclinic on Monday. He had recently been treated in another hospital for a spinal problem.

Berio often ranked with Boulez, Stockhausen, Ligeti, and Cage as among the most innovative and radical composers on the scene. He adopted the serial technique from his teacher Luigi Dallapiccola, but often tempered it with his own Italianate brand of lyricism. He wrote much purely electronic music, and used electronic and aleatoric elements in his instrumental works.

Berio was also a conductor, and taught courses on electronic music at Columbia University. In addition to his many original compositions, he transcribed or adapted works from a varied array of composers, including Monteverdi, Schubert, Mahler, and even the Beatles.

Along with his post at St. Cecilia, Berio was director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a Florence musical festival with a popular international following.

Survivors include Berio's wife, Talia, said the AP.

Additional Resources:
Berio Biography and Works List
Completely Berio Discography
New York Times Obituary