My copy of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza V had been in the filing cabinet for literally 30 years before I attempted to play it. The piece was written for tenor trombone. Grock. And the Berio Sequenza V. This page includes: Grock’s biography. Luciano Berio’s comments about Grock and Sequenza V. Abbie Conant’s comments. Berio – Sequenza V – Download as PDF File .pdf) or read online.

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And the Berio Sequenza V. Luciano Berio’s comments about Grock and Sequenza V. Abbie Conant’s comments about using the video clips to learn Sequenza V. Eleven video clips of Grock in performance. Grock January 10,Reconvilier, Switzerland – July 14,ImperiaItalyoriginal name Karl Charles Adrien Wettachwas tronbone Swiss circus clown whose blunders with beroi piano and the violin became seqeunza.

The son of a watchmaker, he became an amateur acrobat and was allowed to spend each summer with a circus, trombkne he performed first as seuenza tumbler and then as a violinist, pianist, and xylophonist. Trpmbone became the partner of a clown named Brick and changed his name to Grock in At Berlinappearing on a stage instead of in an arena, they failed at first; but, by mastering the stage technique, they obtained a London engagement in Two years later Grock perfected those adventures of a simpleton among musical instruments that made many a European audience laugh — at his wonder as to where the strings had gone when he held his fiddle the wrong side up.

The talented musician, who could play 24 instruments and speak many languages, became the king of clowns in the early s. Grock performed for some of Europe ‘s royalty. He also started a successful music publishing business for his popular songs.

In he left England and remained on the European continent until his farewell performance at age 74 in Hamburg, Germanyon October 30 His performances have been preserved on film. The highest-paid artist at one time in Europewas broke after buying a circus tent for his variety show after World Bsrio IIbut recovered financially through successful tours.

He retired to the villa he had built in the s in the surroundings of Imperia. Luciano Berio’s comments about Sequenza V. In Sequenza V for trombone solo, the memory of Grock, the last big clown, peeps out. Grock was my neighbor at Oneglia: With my school grombone I used to climb over his garden’s gates to steal oranges and tangarines. During my childhood the closeness, the excessive familiarity with his name and adults’ seequenza prevented me from comprehending his genius.

During that performance, just once, he suddenly stopped and, staring at the audience, he asked: I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, I wished I could do both of them. After that experience I haven’t stolen oranges from his garden anymore. If you have already looked at the videos, all the better.

To make things easier, I’ve placed a link to play each clip at the bottom of the discussion here about each one. He was a music clown.

Notice how repetitions and pauses in just announcing the name of the song builds tension. A sequenzw effect can be created with music. He entrances us with his charm and relative earnestness and then trips backward into a bass drum.


How can you entrance people when you play a phrase of music? How do you surprise them with the turns it can take? Grock appears to be almost crotchety and stiff which makes his feats of virtuosic athleticism even more astounding.

What is the secret of imbuing music with a kind of modesty that only makes its virtuosity even more revelatory?

Sequenza V – Wikipedia

Here Grock invokes the ancient Law of Three. A rhythm of repetition is set up and lures us into expecting the same thing the third time. Always on the third repetition there is radical change that is the punch-line. The Spanish clown dismisses him and starts to play. Grock turns to leave. Notice the perfect pantomime technique of his supposed exit.

He abruptly halts with his back still turned to us. Then he turns his head toward us part way, smiles with obvious pleasure. Music can also be perfectly shaped in a way that reveals a form of iconic imagery. The musician must consider how the perfect timing and form of a phrase and piece is shaped. He lifts up his oversize professor coat as if it were a pinafore to show his ankles. His arm and leg movements are akin to modern day hiphop but with the oversize shoes appearing to make his feet twist at the ankles to a ridiculous degree.

As the dramatic irony intensifies his elbows move higher and higher until one of his flailing arms accidently bumps the soloist who stops playing and glares at Grock who gradually winds down noticing the music has stopped.

How do we make music that is not only objective, but also overwhelms? How do we lead people to listen with the abandoned wonderment of children? How do we create a music that is irresistible? People pay us to move them well, more or less!

When Grock bumps against the guitar player, he is actually executing precisely berip cues that create the perfect rhythm of the skit. Grock makes as if to leave the stage but is overcome by the music and starts to dance again. Once more he bumps the soloist and this time is scolded.

Sequenza V (author’s note) | Centro Studi Luciano Berio – Luciano Berio’s Official Website

Why are you constantly bothering me? He begins to sing with intense enthusiasm but badly. The clown drags him off by the scruff of his neck. Is there not a fool in all great artists, including musicians?

I thought you were English. The more serious he takes himself the funnier he is to us. On the contrary, the piece turns inward, almost anguished at this point. Clowns explore the worlds of extreme dualities, and in their greatest moments, capture both in a single instant. The greatest musicians do the same. How can you create music, such as in the second half of the Berio, that shows the mirth and sadness within the clown at the same time? These ironic dualities allow great art to oscillate and resonate with endless symbolic meanings.

In some respects, being an artist can mean spending your life trying to capture those ineffable moments that suddenly reveal the profound ironies of human existence. But again, it is not something you can really strive to do. Through intense, sustained work you just find that it sometimes happens.


Watch in all of these clips, how Grock reveals these ironic dualities, and how they lend his work such profundity. He is a fool but wise at the same time, simultaneously happy and sad. And yet it is never forced. Through long practice these dualities have become a part of his being. The violinist asks for a chord from the orchestra to herald the entrance of the great Professor.

Grock, top-hatted, sheepishly comes out from behind the curtain, clueless and somewhat hunched over walking slightly bowlegged, like a country simpleton.

Clowns can spend years developing their trademark way of walking. His dress jacket is trokbone small that the sleeves reach only to the middle of his forearms—his shirt collar juts out in back, and his tie is the wrong color and disheveled.

The waist on his trousers is up to his chest. He has white gloves on that accentuate his huge hands. The violinist stares his disapproval as Grock self-consciously tries to find seqquenza place to hide his hands. He futilely tries to improve his appearance by sharpening the crease on his trousers.

He pulls up one trouser cuff all the way to his hip to reveal a skinny, almost feminine bare leg.

But watch the actual entrance again and try to see how many elements of theater are in play. Posture, walk, the big build up to the paltry showing, facial expression and and and…? The multi-layered pantomime, acrobatics, juggling, balancing, playing and singing merge into a bio-spiritual force of pure joy.

He is the embodiment of the joy of performing.

Luciano Berio: Sequenza V

Can you capture an iconic embodied identity as you make your entrance for Sequenza V? Can you capture it in all of your music-making? This hilarious sequence is a study in oppositions. It is a combination of the elegant and ridiculous which makes it funny.

He barely lights on the chair, as if he had had hundreds of Alexander Technique lessons. Actually the reason why becomes clear later. The interruption of Grock scratching destroys the elegant atmosphere. Scratching in public is so indelicate! Beerio contortions of blithe satisfaction and grimaces of relief counter the smooth, emotional control of the soloist.

Affected formality is countered and parodied by absurd informality. This same faceting of forms and images, tromobne careful contrasting of sounds, dynamics, phrasing, and timing can give our music the same indelible qualities that mesmerize people.

In its highest manifestations, music sometimes goes beyond mere sound, to profound symbolic representations of human identity. More delay before the grand performance with violin and piano. Grock pulls out a single ball which is made from one of his gloves and starts to go through the standard juggling moves as if he had several juggling balls.