The death was announced today of Henri Dutilleux, composer of exquisite orchestral and instrumental works in an unmistakably French idiom. He was 97.
Born in Angers, he occupied important positions in Parisian musical life – head of music at French radio and professor of composition – but was unable to combat the overwhelming influence of Pierre Boulez and the ultra-modernists.
photo: Lebrecht Music & Arts
Signature works, such as Métaboles (1965) and the cello concerto Tout un monde lointain, (1970), were taken up by world orchestras and enjoyed wide acclaim for their formal perfection, as well finished as a haute couture garment.
One came away from a Dutilleux performance overwhelmed more by its ambience than by any singular, memorable idea. He was a great composer in the manner of the great impressionists. What remains is the impression.
UPDATE1: Personal memoir here.
UPDATE2: here’s an interview with the Maitre (en francais)