Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
Approximate Performance Time:
Advanced – appropriate for upper college undergraduates and master students
Emmanuel Pahud. Sonatine. EMI Records Ltd., 1997. MP3.
Haws, John Riley. “Henri Dutilleux’s Early Chamber Works with Piano: An Analysis of a Formative Style.” Order No. 9028000 Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, 1990. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
Henri Dutilleux was born in 1916 in a small French town called Angers. His musical interest can be traced back to his childhood village of Douai, where his family had originally fled from due to World War I. His family held music with high regard and the older members actively pursued musical activities, including his grandmother, Julien Koszul, who was also composer. Dutilleux credited Gallois and Chopin for his musical inspirations, and frequently studied Debussy’s Pelléas and Mésilande. The Paris Conservatory allowed Dutilleux to compose several pieces for solo instruments, including Sonatine for Flute and Piano, Oboe sonata, Choral, and Cadence et fugal (for trombone and piano). Dutilleux died in the presence of his family in Douai in 1996.
Dutilleux’s Sonatine for Flute and Piano (1943) was one of four concour pieces he wrote for the Paris Conservatory between 1942 and 1951. The work is embedded with intricately placed harmonic dissonances and complex independent flute and piano parts.
Dutilleux writes about his piece, Sonatine for Flute and Piano: “I had written… some pieces commissioned by Claude Delvincourt, then the director of the Conservatory. He had a double aim: to make young composers explore instrumental technique (you can’t write any old thing for young players) and, at the same time, to force instrumental students to work on new scores, which Delvincourt wanted to be full of traps and technical difficulties. This is how I came to write, one after the other, pieces for bassoon, flute, oboe, and trombone; the flute piece is the Sonatine for flute and piano, which has been recorded many times abroad, although I have never wanted it to be recorded in France because it doesn’t yet sound really like my music. But I haven’t put any embargo on that.”