Henri Dutilleux – Between worlds
Diving into contemporary music, Henri Dutilleux is one of those figures that attract the most, not just for the quality of his music, but for his relentless aversion to compromise it. Dutilleux grew up with the avant-garde as the only accepted way to compose, and yet he refused to bow to it. His long life rejection for Boulez’s dogmas, especially the necessity of serialism, is common knowledge. That way of composing never coped with his sensibility as a musician. In his own words:
His music breathes of French tradition, from Debussy to Ravel to Stravinsky with the addition of some Bartok. He drew inspiration from all form of arts: Timbres, espaces, mouvements is based on Van Gogh‘s immortal Starry Night; the Shadows of Time is a gloomy meditation on loss, written for the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII and catalysed by the discovery of the deportation by the Nazis to concentration camps of an entire orphanage of Jewish children in Anne Frank’s diary.
The piece itself is dedicated to Anne Frank “and all the children, innocents of the world”.
Incidentally, this dedication reminds me of Shostakovich string quartet op.110, dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war”.
A stickler for details and revisions (something in common with Boulez), Dutilleux only cared about his world, completely independent from the mainstream, extremely refined in his orchestration, true to his heart and art.
Happy 100th anniversary!
Alex Ross has something to say about him here while for a list of events head to the
Here are a few links to some of my favorites compositions of his:
Tout un monde
Sources and resources:
Henry Dutilleux: photo by Brianthebrain2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Anne Frank photo credit: photo by Unknown photographer;
Cover photo by Trinita’ | Flickr