Rhinegold Photo credit: Jean-Christophe Windland

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Pierre Henry (9 December 1927 – 5 July 2017)

2:27, 10th July 2017

French composer Pierre Henry, whose experiments with electronically manipulated sound contributed a great deal towards the development of musique concrète as an art form, has died aged 89.

Born in Paris, Henry studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. He went on to work at Pierre Schaeffer’s Club d’Essai studio between 1949 and 1958, during which time he wrote Symphonie pour un homme seul (in collaboration with Schaeffer), Le Microphone Bien Tempéré and the soundtrack to Jean Grémillon’s Astrologie – the first time musique concrète had appeared in the cinema.

In 1958, he co-founded the Apsone-Cabasse Studio – the first private electronic studio in France – with sound engineer Jean Baronnet. He began incorporating electronics into his work – Coexistence and Investigations are early examples – and went on to create a number of meditative pieces in the 1960s.

He wrote a number of works for choreographer Maurice Béjart, most famously Messe pour le Temps Présent in collaboration with Michel Colombier in 1967. This piece proved hugely inspirational across a number of genres, leading to a collaboration with rock band Spooky Tooth and prompting remixes by Fatboy Slim, Mat Ducasse and William Orbit.

Henry’s later works included homages to Luigi Russolo (Futuriste) and Beethoven (La Dixième Symphonie). He donated his archive to France’s National Library in 2007.

From Rhinegold Media & Events
Featured products