Belfort, Territoire de Belfort, France, 1946 — Paris, France, 1998

  • Composer

Gérard Grisey studied at the Trossingen Conservatory in Germany (1963-65) before entering the Paris conservatory in 1965. There he worked with Olivier Messiaen, eventually earning prizes in composition and other subjects. At the same time, Grisey took courses with Henri Dutilleux at the École Normale de Musique (1968), and also studied in Sienna, Italy at the Accademia Chigiana (1969). In 1972, Grisey attended seminars at Darmstadt with Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis.

Grisey’s studies in electroacoustic music and acoustics date from the early 1970s, training he accomplished under the tutelage of Jean-Etienne Marie and Emile Leip at the Université de Paris VI. In 1972, he was awarded a grant to study at the Villa Médicis in Rome, where he stayed for two years, and it is also during this period that he formed the Itinéraire ensemble with Tristan Murail, Roger Tessier and Michaël Lévinas (Hugues Dufourt joined the ensemble later). In 1980, Grisey became attached to IRCAM, and subsequent to a period in Berlin, was appointed professor at the University of California at Berkeley (1982-1986). On returning to Europe from the United States, he taught classes at the Paris conservatory, and gave a number of seminars both in France (Centres Acanthes, Lyon, Paris) and beyond (Darmstadt, Fribourg, Milan, Reggio Aemilai, Oslo, Helinski, Moscow, Los Angeles, Stanford, London).

Grisey’s Dérives, Périodes and Partiels figure amongst the seminal works of the spectral music movement. Moreover, works such as Les Espaces Acoustiques (1974-1985), Les Chants de l’Amour (1982-1984), Le Noir de l’Etoile (1991), Vortex Temporum (1994-1996), L’Icône paradoxale (1996), and Quatre Chants pour franchir le Seuil (1994-1996), commissioned by the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the BBC, are frequently broadcast and programmed for international festivals. They have become a staple in the repertoire of some of the most celebrated European and North American instrumental ensembles.

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