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The music of Georges Aperghis

The Academy pays tribute to the composer

By Octave 14 December 2020

© Studio J’adore ce que vous faites / ONP

The music of Georges Aperghis

The Paris Opera Academy has scheduled a concert dedicated to the composer Georges Aperghis who is celebrating his 75th birthday. To accompany the concert on our online platform, Octave met with both the Academy’s artistic director, Christian Schirm, who discussed programming choices and the composer himself who offered us an insight into each of the pieces presented.


Georges Aperghis has constructed a complex, all-encompassing world of sound. In parallel to his major orchestral compositions which premiere regularly in Germany, Georges Aperghis has developed a craftsmanlike dimension to part of his work. Like a sculptor, he brings new forms to life. In his own unique way, he offers a personal answer to the question raised by opera since time immemorial, namely, the nature of the relationship between text and music. Aperghis explores every possibility as he dissects the raw materials of voice, body and movement as if in a laboratory. As such, part of his work is entirely in keeping with the international mainstream of musical theatre. Whereas an opera begins with a libretto and the music develops alongside the linear progression of the characters and their psychology, Georges Aperghis’s unique “musical theatre” takes hold of the language differently, recomposing, deconstructing and reconstituting it. As such, we are forever on a quest that constantly eludes us.

Including this composer on a programme implies offering young performers a new approach to a score with an initial focus on rhythm. For this concert, they were accompanied by two of the composers most renowned performers: Donatienne Michel-Dansac and Françoise Rivalland.

The works of Georges Aperghis are truly demanding from a musical standpoint and a require a willingness to run risks. Performers must be prepared to leave their comfort zone and put themselves in danger. As such, the violinist, violist or harpsichordist, while marking the rhythm of a text, will use their voices rather than their instruments as musical elements in their own right.

The pieces were chosen according to several criteria: firstly, according to the number of musicians at the Academy’s disposal but also according to the difficulty of the pieces and the time needed to master them. In the works chosen for this concert-tribute, we wished to bring together a variety of vocal and chamber music pieces that would illustrate the wealth of the composer’s universe, an anthology in the form of a patchwork. They display the elements of vocabulary which form the basis of his writing: accelerations, enumerations, horizontal and vertical juxtapositions, both slowed down or speeded up. A more playful aspect and work on phonemes are also present. Each piece sheds light on the different facets of his work.

By entering this wholly original sound universe, the Academy’s young artists have experienced the loss of familiar bearings before finding the energy to reconstruct and reorganise the sound material. Overcoming challenges means rediscovering the joys of music-making, of sharing music, and in turn, leading listeners astray along dizzying paths only to rediscover in their company an alternative coherence, another form of stability. The concert is a moment to restore order and rediscover meaning.

Hommage à Georges Aperghis #1 : « Ekoviké »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #2 : « Calme-plat 2 »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #3 : « I.X »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #4 : « Raïeur »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #5 : « Ciellame» et « Voyage »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #6 : « Récitation n°3 »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #7 : « Petite fête »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #8 : « Mes ailes »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #9 : « En un tournemain »
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #10 : Faux mouvement
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #11 : Pub I
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #12 : Quartet Movement
Hommage à Georges Aperghis #13 : « Deze »

Hommage à Georges Aperghis
For the 75th birthday of Georges Aperghis, the artists of the Academy will present a concert around typical master-pieces of the composer of the Récitations...

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