<< -- 4 -- Jennifer I Paull CATHY BERBERIAN: LEGACY
With Luciano Berio, Cathy formed a couple, the combined musical genius of which transformed vocal technique and its future compositional possibilities. The voice, however, was Cathy's: original ideas stemmed from her capacities, which she illustrated to Berio.
Many people wrote for her, Stravinsky, Maderna, Bussotti -- other greats of the day -- but Berio knew her as nobody else. Their musical collaboration far outlasted their fourteen years together. Her knowledge of literature (especially James Joyce and generally eclectic culture) percolated through her unique abilities. In particular, she brought Berio insight with her liberating influence, thus enabling him to better crystallise and develop. Cathy became an icon of the cognoscenti, a goddess of the avant-garde.
Yet that was not her real role -- it was a part into which she had fallen initially and inevitably, as she gave of herself (often incognito) at the RAI's Studio di Fonologia musicale in Milan. Berio and Maderna were experimenting together for Italian Radio with a group of close friends. Musique concrète was born and later it died. After the same thing happened to her marriage, Cathy grew wings and gave her stage presence free flight. She refused the confining cloisters of the avant-garde intellectuals and 'to be the prisoner of one, unique repertoire', which would have obviated her very versatility. She poured out her invention as the non-conformist she admitted to being. 'I will not accept what I don't believe.' She created what she did.
Copyright © 30 October 2005
Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland