Marc-André Dalbavie was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on February 10, 1961 and attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris where he studied orchestration under Marius Constant and conducting under Pierre Boulez. From 1985 to 1990, he was an active member of the musical research department at Ircam, exploring digital synthesis and computer assisted composition. Diadèmes, his first work at Ircam made him famous around the world. From 1992 to 1993, he lived in Berlin at the invitation of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and from 1995 to 1996, he was a resident at the Villa Médicis in Rome. He was also the resident composer at the Orchestre de Paris between 2001 and 2005. In 1997, he was hired to teach orchestration at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He was awarded the composition prize at the Salzburg Easter Festival and in 2010, he won the Sacem Grand Prix for symphonic music. Marc-André Dalbavie has been instrumental in expanding contemporary music along multiple paths and is currently one of the most sought-after composers of his generation. He has received commissions from the most prestigious orchestras (Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Montreal, Tokyo, the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Orchestre de Paris, the BBC Orchestra), as well as from musical institutions such as Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, The Proms in London, the Aspen Festival, the Marlboro Festival, and the Cité de la Musique in Paris…
The point of departure for his work is his research into timbre and the phenomenon of electronically generated sound. Specially composed for the auditoriums or venues in which they will first be performed, some of his pieces are effectively in situ works, and, as such, they altar the context of the traditional concert. In this way, Mobiles (2001), a work for orchestra and chorus, was specifically conceived for the auditorium at the Cité de la Musique in Paris while Rocks Under the Water (2002) was custom composed for the iconic Peter Lewis residence in Cleveland, designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry. At the same time, the composer undertook an in-depth examination of the orchestra in order to explore its full potential from sound diffraction up to the symphonic bloc, gliding from one to the other via a principle of generalised morphing.
This innovative context has enabled him to lift several modernist taboos. In so doing, he has been able to redeploy the concerto genre and certain chamber music combinations and give back a melodic fluidity to the voice. It has also allowed him to take a fresh look at the relationship between text and music. After Sonnets de Louise Labbé for countertenor and orchestra (2008), he wrote Gesualdo, his first opera which had its premiere in Zurich in 2010. His second opera, Charlotte Salomon, was composed for the 2014 Salzburg Festival. In 2018, he received the Stoeger Prize, awarded to composers by the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center.
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