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Dutilleux at 95

January 30, 2011

I’ve just been to an IMR conference celebrating the 95th birthday of French composer Henri Dutilleux, at the Senate House in London.  He’s written some ravishingly beautiful music, which draws the listener deep into a haunting web of memories, emotions and sudden illuminations.  The conference was put together by Caroline Rae and Caroline Potter; there were just six of us giving papers, and very interesting they were.  There was a very refreshing diversity of new ideas and approaches (and that’s not always the case!), as well as lots of fruitful points of contact between different papers, and some spookily exact correspondances between certain points made by Julian Anderson and by myself, about very precise connections back to Stravinsky and forwards to Gérard Grisey, and also concerning the crucial relation of sonority to form.  Ken Hesketh made a tremendously incisive and searching analysis of Ainsi la nuit. And Julian gave a wonderful paper positing Dutilleux as a quiet and under-appreciated explorer/discoverer of many of the radical ideas which (later) made the music of the Spectralists seem so arrestingly new in the 70s and 80s.  All in all, a very good day, and much to ponder…

(Click here for details of my book Henri Dutilleux: la musique des songes)

image: nave-moe (Paul Gauguin)

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