Tuesday, March 27, 2007


A former student of mine posted this video on YouTube recently. It's his performance of Berio's Sequenza No. 5.
A few quick notes:
Luciano Berio was a brilliant 20th century composer. He wrote a series of Sequenzas for solo instruments.
The trombone sequenza, unlike the others, involves an element of theater and is dedicated to the famous European clown Grock.
Given that the piece is dedicated to clown, performers sometimes dress appropriately.
I believe the first half of the piece represents the clown's extroverted side while the second half focuses on internal struggles (insert "Tears of a Clown" comments here).
The notes are anything but random as Berio pays careful attention not only to pitch but register as well.
My first teacher, Ron Borror, once pointed out that the first complete tone row of the piece (which is developed bit by bit) devolves into a rapid, random pattern from which only two notes jump out: B and G. Hmmm....Berio and Grock??? One wonders.
At the midpoint of the piece, the performer stops and asks, "Why" often elongating the word. This was apparently a trademark gesture of Grock's. In his act, he would often do something ludicrous, pause, and say some non-sequitor like, "Why?"
Oh yes, Grock could play quite a few musical instruments and went on to own his own circus if I remember correctly.
(insert distant sound of crickets and snores...
maybe too much detail, sorry)
Whatever, enjoy the video...