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French prime minister pays tribute to late composer

A beautiful, personal statement has been posted on the French Goverment’s website:

Don Giovanni, Theatre des champs Elysees,2013


Jean-Marc Ayrault, Premier ministre, a appris avec une grande émotion le décès d’Henri Dutilleux. Né à Angers en 1916, Henri Dutilleux a traversé le XXème siècle et le début du XXIème siècle avec la profondeur et la légèreté d’une œuvre qui incarna au plus haut point l’élégance de la musique française.

De sa Cantate « L’anneau du roi », qui lui valut le Grand Prix de Rome en 1938, à ses « Correspondances », œuvre publiée en 2013 après avoir été enregistrée par l’orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, il n’a jamais cessé de susciter l’admiration et le respect de ses pairs, et des publics français et étrangers.

Moderne et contemporain, Henri Dutilleux l’était assurément. Et c’est une certaine forme de classicisme qui lui a permis de conquérir un vaste public, devenant l’un des compositeurs les plus joués de son vivant.

A sa famille, à ses amis, à ses proches, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Premier ministre, adresse ses condoléances les plus attristées.


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  1. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Shame he doesn’t run the country as well as he dishes out panegyrics. Er, actually, wasn’t this the same man who called Gérard Dépardieu ‘pathetic’ as he opposed the punitive taxes Ayrault and his idiotic crew of incompetents are imposing on the country, before handing in his French passport? Eloquent, indeed…

    • Mathieu says:

      Since French cinema is heavily subsidized by the State, a great deal of Depardieu’s extravagant salaries has been payed by French taxpayers all over the years. It does put things into perspective, doesn’t it ? Now, the “take the money and run” reflex does seem a little pathetic. Or, I don’t know, maybe Mordovia is the next place to be.

      Before talking of punitive taxes, just learn about the country, would you ?

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        As a taxpayer in France I’m very well placed to talk about Ayrault and his band of cretins, thank you.

        • Mathieu says:

          I stand corrected. The value of the French tax policy is a matter of serious debate, though, and I do not think insults will do. I remind you that the previous government decided massive tax cuts for the wealthiest as soon as they took office.

          (Of course, as an orthodox Keynesian, I would argue that raising taxes and reducing deficits during a period of recession is putting the cart before the horse).

  2. Mike Schachter says:

    Very beautifully put, but he does seem to have problems with the day job.

    • Mathieu says:

      By contrast, PM David Cameron or President Barack Obama have no problems whatsoever with their respective day jobs.

      I would not like to ruin Mr Lebrecht’s enthusiasm, but it is very unlikely that the premier ministre wrote this statement himself; and it is quite likely that he had not even heard of Dutilleux before his death. Let us congratulate the brave ghostwriter! So much for the “personal” statement.

      And calling it “beautiful” seems a little excessive : a mixture of Wikipedia trivia and platitudes (“he was both a contemporary and a classic”. Please!). And it’s even erroneous, as it implies that “Correspondance” was Dutilleux last work. Doing so, it assumes that classical music works just like pop : someone’s last opus is their last “album”!

      To sum up : It is a standard statement, written in the same mould as every statement issued by French authorities when some famous Frenchman dies. Nothing to be very fussy about

      • Mathieu says:

        By way of comparison here is President Hollande’s statement. Shorter, but not dramatically different.

        J’apprends avec tristesse le décès d’Henri DUTILLEUX.

        Son œuvre, à la fois exigeante et accessible à tous, aura marqué la musique contemporaine. Il avait acquis une reconnaissance internationale, dont témoigne le prix Ernst von Siemens qu’il reçut en 2005.

        Henri DUTILLEUX a contribué au rayonnement de la culture française.

        J’adresse à sa famille et à ses proches mes très sincères condoléances.

  3. Well done Matthieu, you score the point with each of your two answers, as there must be an end to all these francophobe clichés.

    By the way, Mr. Lebrecht’s initial post was subtly flirting with such clichés: “exquisite orchestral and instrumental works” – Dutilleux’s music is everything but “exquisite” -, “in an unmistakably French idiom”, “formal perfection”, “haute couture garment”, the better being kept, as usual, for the end, “overwhelmed more by its ambience than by any singular, memorable idea”.

    In cauda venenum.

    • Thanks for pointing that out, it struck me as well.

      • Same here. There’s so much more to Dutilleux than surface beauty. As I said earlier, the last of the giants.

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