When I studied composition with Luciano Berio in the early sixties in Milan, I also rehearsed and performed concerts and radio recordings with Cathy Berberian, who was at that time married to Berio. Then, one year ago, Cristina Zavalloni asked me to compose a song for her for the Berberian project of I Teatri.
Cristina, for whom I had already written several other pieces, is the first singer I've met since Cathy Berberian who has the same musicality and flexibility, and who is able to cross over the borders of different singing styles. Therefore I decided to read through the ca. 30 letters and postcards I had kept from Cathy Berberian, to find a good text for the piece. I chose the letter in which Cathy tells about her meeting with Stravinsky (who speaks French in this letter) where he decided to make a version for her of "Elegy for J.F. Kennedy".
Although some parts of the letter are somewhat personal and, you might say, touching, I decided to use the letter in its unabridged form.
Louis Andriessen, May 2003
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer