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Christoph Wolff

My travels this spring took me among various venues to the Konzerthaus in Vienna where, by some coincidence, I happened to walk backstage by a door bearing the sign «Berio-Saal». It was locked, nothing went on inside the small concert hall, but the sign gave me pause and made me reflect on the man I was privileged to have known as a wonderful friend. It was June 2, just a few days after the tenth anniversary of the great composer's passing.

For a music historian, talking with a living composer about towering historical figures like Bach and Mozart is something that happens – if ever – extremely rarely. Therefore, some of the most memorable moments in my life were the discussions I had with Luciano during his Norton year at Harvard, 1993-94. I remember particularly vividly the engaging conversation we had when comparing his Sequenzas (some were played in live performances at the end of Luciano's public lectures) with the unaccompanied violin and cello pieces by Bach. It became clear to me that Luciano and JSB had to deal with the exact same kind of challenge: pushing the limits of not only what was technically possible for a single instrument, but also what would open entirely new musical horizons. In that sense, a mind like Luciano's could beautifully illuminate what must have happened inside the head of a composer who could no longer be asked. I shall never forget the treasured moments.

Christoph Wolff