Saturday, July 25, 2009

Letter from Cathy

The text of letter that Cathy Berberian wrote to Louis Andriessen on April 20, 1964 used in "Letter from Cathy" (2003) written for Cristina Zavalloni, now available on CD.

April twenty-seventh, nineteen sixty-four

Dear Louis,

Do not worry about me. Sometimes bad situations can change one's life into a better one. Thank God I have passed the worst part. Being back in Europe, and Milan, has made everything else seem like a nightmare that I want to forget as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I am working like a beaver.

Concerning my concerts in Los Angeles: Stravinsky came especially to hear me do "Circles". We went the next night to his home for dinner. He kissed my hand and both cheeks and said I was marvelous, etcetera and that my voice was "peut-être trop unique pour écrire la musique pour elle - après tout, si vous n'y êtes pas, qui pourra le faire?"

A lovely compliment but it cut my legs short since I had been aiming to ask him to write a small piece. He had just finished a piece for baritone and three clarinets which he said I could do fantastically. Three days later Robert Craft said that Stravinsky decided to change the piece for me: mezzo soprano and three flutes! I just heard today that the new version is already finished and that I will perform it in New York in November, at the same time that I will do the other Stravinsky pieces for Columbia Records. Not bad, huh! I miss Amsterdam and its wonderful streets and fantastic people and Louis and Jeanette and Hotel Cok, bami goreng and beefsteak tartare.

...I send you both my blessing and Love


Here you can see short excerpt from director Carrie de Swaans' 1994 VPRO production "Cathy Berberian: Music is the Air I Breathe". Documentary includes interviews with Louis Andriessen, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Luciano Berio and Cristina Berio.

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