Henri Pousseur


Henri Pousseur

Henri Pousseur (born 23 June 1929, Malmedy) is a Belgian composer.

Biography

Pousseur studied at the Academies of Music in Liège and in Brussels from 1947 to 1953. He was closely associated with Pierre Froidebise and André Souris. He encountered Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio and thereafter devoted himself to avant-garde research.

In 1954 he married Théa Schoonbrood with whom he had four children: Isabelle (1957), Denis (1958), Marianne (1961), and Hélène (1965).

Beginning around 1960, he collaborated with Michel Butor on a number of projects, most notably the opera "Votre Faust" (1961–68).

Pousseur has taught in Cologne, Basel, and in the United States at SUNY Buffalo, as well as in his native Belgium. From 1970 until his retirement in 1988 he taught at the University and Conservatory of Liège where he also founded the "Centre de recherches et de formation musicales de Wallonie".

Compositional style and techniques

Generally regarded as a member of the Darmstadt School in the 1950s, Pousseur's music employs serialism, mobile forms, and aleatory, often mediating between or among seemingly irreconcilable styles, such as those of Schubert and Webern ("Votre Faust"), or Pousseur's own serial style and the protest song "We shall overcome" ("Couleurs croisées").

His electronic composition "Scambi" (Exchanges), realized at the Studio di Fonologia in Milan in 1957, is unusual in the tape-music medium because it is explicitly meant to be assembled in different ways before listening. When first created, several different versions were realized, two by Luciano Berio, one by Marc Wilkinson, and two by the composer himself (Sabbe 1977, 175, n. 86). Since 2004, the Scambi Project, directed by John Dack at the Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts at Middlesex University, has focussed on this work and its multiple possibilities for realization.

In addition to his compositional and teaching activities, Pousseur has published many articles and ten books on music, amongst which are "Fragments Théorique I: sur la musique expérimentale" (Brussels: Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1970), "Schumann le Poète: 25 moments d'une lecture de Dichterliebe" (Paris: Klincksieck, 1993), and "Musiques croisées" (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1997).

elected Compositions

* "Sept Versets des Psaumes de la Pénitence" for four vocal soloists or mixed choir (1950)
* "Prospection" for three pianos tuned in sixths of a tone (1952–53)
* "Séismogrammes" electronic music (1954)
* "Symphonies à 15 Solistes" (1954–55)
* "Quintette à la memoire d'Anton Webern" for clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (1955)
* "Scambi" electronic music (1957)
* "Mobile" for two pianos (1957–58)
* "Rimes pour différentes sources sonores" for orchestra and tape (1958)
* "Madrigal I" for clarinet (1958)
* "Madrigal II" for 4 early instruments (flute, violin, viola da gamba, harpsichord) (1961)
* "Madrigal III" for clarinet, violin, cello, 2 percussionists, and piano (1962)
* "Ode" for string quartet (1960–61)
* "Trois Visages à Liège" electronic music (1961)
* "Caractères" for piano (1961)
* "Votre Faust" (1961–68), opera for five actors, four singers, thirteen instruments, and electronic music, libretto by Michel Butor. Several "satellite" works are related to this opera:
** "Miroir de Votre Faust" ("Caractères II") for solo piano and (optional) soprano (1964-65),
** "Jeu de Miroirs de Votre Faust" for piano, soprano and tape (1964–65)
** "Echos de Votre Faust" for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, and piano (1961–69),
** "Les Ruines de Jéruzona" for mixed choir and "rhythm section" (1978),
** "La Passion selon Guignol" for amplified vocal quartet and orchestra (1981),
** "Parade de Votre Faust" for orchestra (1974)
** "Aiguillages au carrefour des immortels" for 16 or 17 instruments (2002)
** "Il sogno di Leporello: Parade 2 (de Votre Faust)" for orchestra (2005)
* "Apostrophe et six Réflexions" for piano (1964–66)
* "Phonèmes pour Cathy" for mezzo-soprano solo (1966)
* "Couleurs croisées" for large orchestra (1967)
* "Mnémosyne" monody solo voice or instrument, or unison choir (1968)
* "Mnémosyne II" for variable media (1969)
* "Les Éphémérides d'Icare 2" for a soloist, three-part concertino, and four instrumental quartets (1970)
* "Crosses of Crossed Colors" for vocal soloist, two to five pianos, six tape-recorder operators, two turntablists, and two radio operators (1970)
* "Paraboles-Mix" electronic music (1972)
* "Vue sur les Jardins interdits" for saxophone quartet (1973)
* "Die Erprobung des Petrus Hebraïcus" chamber opera in three acts, libretto by Léo Wintgens after Michel Butor (1974). Several "satellite" works are related to this opera:
** "Chroniques berlinoises" for piano and string quartet with baritone "ad lib." (1975)
** "Chroniques illustrées" for large orchestra with baritone "ad lib." (1976)
** "Ballade berlinoise" for piano solo (1977)
** "Humeurs du Futur quotidien" for two reciters and chamber orchestra (1978)
** "Pédigrée" for female voice and seven instruments (1980)
** "Canines" for voice and piano (1980)
** "Chroniques canines" for two pianos with soprano "ad lib" (1984)
* "Tales and Songs from the Bible of Hell" four singers with real-time electronic transformation (1979)
* "La Passion selon Guignol" for amplified vocal quartet and orchestra (1981)
* "La Paganania" for solo violin (1982)
* "La Paganania seconda" for solo cello (1982)
* "Déclarations d'Orage" for reciter, soprano, baritone, three improvising instruments (alto saxophone, tuba, synthesizer), large orchestra and tape (1988–89)
* "At Moonlight, Dowland's Shadow passes along Ginkaku-Ji" for shakuhachi, shamisen, and koto (1989)
* "Leçons d'Enfer" music theatre for 2 actors, 3 singers, 7 instruments, tape, and live electronics; texts by Arthur Rimbaud and Michel Butor (1990–91)
* "Dichterliebesreigentraum" for soprano, baritone, two solo pianos, choir and orchestra (1992–93)
* "Aquarius-Mémorial (in memoriam Karel Goeyvaerts)"
** I. "Les Litanies d'Icare" for piano (1994)
** II. "Danseurs Gnidiens cherchant la Perle clémentine" for chamber orchestra (1998)
** III. "Les Fouilles de Jéruzona" for orchestra (1995)
** IV. "Icare au Jardin du Verseau" for piano and chamber orchestra (1999)
* "La Guirlande de Pierre" for soprano, baritone and piano (1997)
* "Navigations" for harp (2000)
* "Seize Paysages planétaires" ethno-electroacoustical music (2000)
* "Les Icare africains" for solo voices, "ad lib." choir, and orchestra (2002)

References

* Composer's website: http://www.henripousseur.net/
* Scambi Project: http://www.scambi.mdx.ac.uk/
** Listen to Scambi: http://www.scambi.mdx.ac.uk/listenScambi.html
* Sabbe, Herman. 1977. "Het muzikale serialisme als techniek en als denkmethode: Een onderzoek naar de logische en historische samenhang van de onderscheiden toepassingen van het seriërend beginsel in de muziek van de periode 1950–1975". Ghent: Rijksuniversiteit te Gent.


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