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‘Dutilleux at 95’ Study Day

Caroline Rae is co-organiser with Caroline Potter (Kingston University) of the Institute of Musical Research Study Day ‘Dutilleux at 95’ which takes place at the Senate House, University of London on 28 January 2011. The French composer Henri Dutilleux, who is also an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University, celebrates his 95th birthday on 22 January 2011. The Study Day commemorates this milestone while reassessing and nuancing his position in the contemporary musical scene through a detailed examination of his technique, composition and aesthetics, including reference to his most recent works.


Maître Henri Dutilleux being presented to Vice-Chancellor Dr David Grant by Dr Caroline Rae for his Cardiff University Honorary Fellowship, 16 February 2008, in the presence of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales













The Study Day, with keynote by Professor Julian Anderson, comprises six papers by leading Dutilleux scholars and composers, as well as a piano recital by Alexander Soares to include the Piano Sonata and Mini-prélude en éventail.



While Dutilleux tends to be considered in the context of French music, the Study Day aims to place him in a wider European context: after all, Dutilleux himself is fond of quoting André Gide’s maxim that art benefits from ‘le levain de l’étranger’ – the enrichment (leavening) of foreign cultures. This issue is the focus of the paper by Caroline Rae, which will provide a contextual framework and investigate aesthetic parallels and influences with music by Central and Eastern European composers. In addition to examining influences and diverse compositional parallels, other contributions will tackle key questions about structure, timbre, development and the perennially thorny question of how to end a piece. The three papers by British composers, one of whom studied with Dutilleux, lend the day a unique perspective. Julian Anderson explores the problem of form, investigating Dutilleux’s innovative approach to the structural role of timbre and musical texture in a range of works from the 1960s to the present, while Kenneth Hesketh proposes a new analytical interpretation of the string quartet Ainsi la nuit. In a comparative discussion of Ainsi la nuit and Timbres, espace, mouvement, Jeremy Thurlow identifies two different compositional paths and traces their development in Dutilleux’s subsequent works. PhD student Mark Hutchinson investigates issues of form, while Caroline Potter, who has studied the Dutilleux manuscript collection housed at the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel, considers the revisions Dutilleux has made to the final bars of several pieces and questions why this is something he still finds problematic, even in his most recently published work.

All the contributors know Dutilleux personally and have worked with him in a range of contexts over a period of many years.

The papers will be published in a special edition of the Contemporary Music Review, co-edited by Caroline Rae and Caroline Potter.