Henri Pousseur

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Henri Pousseur (born June 23, 1929 in Malmedy ; † March 6, 2009 in Brussels ) was a Belgian composer and music theorist .


After his first music lessons with Herman Barg and Eugène Micha in Malmedy, Henri Pousseur studied from 1947 to 1952 at the Royal Conversation Center in Liège . His organ teacher Pierre Froidebise introduced him to avant-garde music, in particular to twelve-tone music , and introduced him to Pierre Boulez . During his first year of study, he founded a student choir with which he regularly performed music from the Middle Ages . From 1949 to 1952 he was organist at the Saint-François des Sales church in Liège. After an irreconcilable dispute over serial music with the director of the Conservatory Fernand Quinet , Pousseur moved to the Brussels Conservatory , where he took his final exam in fugue theory in 1953 in Jean Absil's class . During his time in Brussels he found a supporter in André Souris (1899–1970), who shared with him his own experiences from the Brussels studio.

From 1952 he regularly took part in the summer courses for new music in Darmstadt and the Donaueschinger Musiktage . In 1957 he worked with Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna in the Studio di Fonologia Musicale in Milan and later in the studio for electronic music in Cologne with Karlheinz Stockhausen . In 1958 he founded the Studio de musique électronique Apelac in Brussels . From 1963 to 1964 he taught at the Music Academy of the City of Basel and from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Buffalo . Since 1970 he has taught at the University of Liège , where he founded the Center de recherches musicales de Wallonie (since 2010 Center Henri Pousseur ) with colleagues such as Pierre Bartholomée and Philippe Boesmans . In 1975 he took over the management of the Liège Conservatory, from which he had withdrawn in 1952 because of his differences with the director.

After his official retirement in 1994, he worked at the University of Leuven until the summer of 1999 . During this time he wrote five new works, including four in memory of his predecessor Karel Goeyvaerts , grouped in a large cycle for piano and orchestra.

In addition to almost 200 scores, Pousseur has also written numerous articles and several books on music in his life, including Fragments Théorique I: sur la musique expérimentale (Brussels: Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1970), Schumann le Poète: 25 moments d'une lecture de Dichterliebe (Paris: Klincksieck, 1993), and Musiques croisées (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1997). He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Metz and Lille III, and in 2004 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Charles Cros Academy .

His son Denis Pousseur (born August 8, 1958) studied piano and turned to jazz in his early years. He contributed to the creation of some of the father's works. From 1980 he composed several film scores.

Style and technology

In his work, which was committed to Anton Webern , Pousseur used the means of aleatoric and electronic music ; compositionally, he used twelve-tone music . In addition to orchestral works, he wrote pieces for chamber music ensembles using tape and electronic instruments. His music also dealt with serialism and open forms and mediated between such supposedly irreconcilable compositional styles as those of Franz Schubert and Anton Webern (Votre Faust).

Works (selection)

In total, Pousseur left behind more than 150 compositions

  • Symphonies (1954), for fifteen soloists
  • Quintets à la mémoire d'Anton Webern (1955), for clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello and piano
  • Mobile (1957–58), for two pianos
  • Rimes (1958), for electronic and conventional instruments
  • Scambi (1958), electronic composition, was created in the studio in Milan
  • Trois Visages de Liège (1961), electronic composition
  • Couleurs croisées (1967), for large orchestra
  • Votre Faust (1969) Opera in which the audience votes on the course of the plot, libretto by Michel Butor
  • Invitation à l'Utopie (1971), for soloists and ensemble, speaker and mixed choir, with a text by M. Butor
  • Le Seconde Apothéose de Rameau (1981), for chamber orchestra
  • L'école d'Orphée (1989), for speaking voice, organ and live electronics
  • Dichterliebesreigen (1993), for two pianos, soprano, baritone, chamber choir and chamber orchestra, after Heinrich Heine


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Thierry Levaux: Le Dictionnaire des Compositeurs de Belgique du Moyen Age à nos jours , p 497-504, Editions: "Art in Belgium" in 2006, ISBN 2-930338-37-7