Luciano Berio (born in 1925) is one of the most important composers of the twentieth century. He has constantly been at the vanguard of post-war musical developments in areas as varied as serialism, electronic music and musical theatre. The remarkable thing about Berio is that while he has always remained a hardcore member of the avant-garde, he has never allowed his own work to become inflexible or dogmatic, moving instead with a certain grace between the rigid doctrines that have prevailed in his time.
Berio's Sinfonia (1968) was inspired by the modernism of James Joyce and the postmodernism of philosopher Umberto Eco, it is a composition that interweaves a multitude of textual and musical quotations. In Sinfonia, Berio presents a complex consciousness in which a dialogue is created between various texts and music from different periods. As a result, the piece has been described as a carnivalesque parade of composers including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz and many more, The essence of the composition lies in the inner unity of the work, however heterogenous the material may be.
In his film interpretation, director Jaap Drupsteen has visualised this impressive score in an equally unique fashion. Working from the basis of the score, his ears and the images evoked by the music, Drupsteen has created a colourful and lively analysis of the music. He gives expression to the interaction between the musicians—particularly twists and accents in the music and the mood pervading the music—in a collage of images equal in their abundance of layering and complexity to the music of Berio.