Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)

Henri Dutilleux (Credit: Getty)

1916-2013

Nationality French

 

The music of Henri Dutilleux is most commonly described as being somewhere between the impressionism of Debussy and the modernism of Boulez, though his style has an idiosyncratic character that is almost impossible to  categorise accurately. Dutilleux was a perfectionist, and his final collection of published works remains relatively small given how long and active a life he led. Dutilleux often revised and reworked his music over a period of several years, and disowned whole swathes of his compositions because they did not represent his mature style. 

 

Most notable works

Tout un monde lointain (1967-70)

Symphony No. 2 ‘Le Double’ (1959)

Metaboles (1965)

String Quartet: Ainsi la nuit (1973-76)

Correspondances (2003)

 

A life in brief

1916

Henri Dutilleux is born on 22 January in Angers. His family have an artistic background: his maternal grandfather Julien Koszul was a fellow pupil of Fauré and, later, director of the conservatoire in Roubaix near Lille.

1918

At the end of the war Dutilleux's family move to Douai, in northern France.

1924

He begins studying composition at the local conservatoire.

1932

He joins the Paris Conservatory and studies with the Gallon brothers, Noël and Jean, and Henri Büsser.

1938

He wins the prestigious Prix de Rome with his cantata L'anneau du roi.

1942

During the Occupation of France, Dutilleux acts as accompanist for a singing class at the Conservatoire and chef de chant at the Opéra. As part of the latter role, he is asked to prepare Hans Pfizner’s Palestrina, which he hates.

1946

He marries Geneviève Joy, a concert pianist. Their marriage lasts 63 years, ending only when Geneviéve dies of cancer in 2009.

1948

Dutilleux writes his only piano sonata, which he dedicates to his wife. Geneviève Joy also premieres the work. He views this work as his Opus 1, the first work up to his mature standard.

2004

He is awarded the Grand-Croix de la Légion d’honneur by the French government.

2013

Dutilleux dies aged 97 on 22 May. He is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris. 

 

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