Henri Pousseur

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 from Herman Barg and Eugène Micha in Malmedy, Henri Pousseur studied from 1947 to 1952 at the Royal Konversatorum in Liege. His organ teacher Pierre Froidebise led him to avant-garde music approach, in particular, to the twelve-tone music, and introduced him to Pierre Boulez. During his first year, he founded a student choir, with whom he performed music of the Middle Ages regularly. From 1949 to 1952 he was organist at the church of Saint Francis of Sales in Liege. After an irreconcilable dispute over serial music with the director of the Conservatory Fernand Quinet, changed Pousseur to the Brussels Conservatory, where in 1953 he passed his final examinations made ​​in the class of Jean Absil in joint doctrine. In his time in Brussels he found a sponsor in André Souris (1899-1970), who shared his own experience of the Brussels studio with him.

From 1952 he regularly took part in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt and Donaueschingen Music Days. 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 Karl -Heinz Stockhausen. In 1958 he founded the Studio de musique in Brussels électronique Apelac. From 1963 to 1964 he taught at the Music Academy 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 with colleagues such as Pierre Bartholomée and Philippe Boesman the Centre de recherches musicales de Wallonie ( since 2010 Centre Henri Pousseur ). In 1975 he took over the management of the Liège Conservatory, from which he had retired in 1952 because of his differences with the director.

After his official retirement in 1994, he was employed at the University of Louvain until the summer of 1999. He wrote at this time five new works, including four in memory of his predecessor Karel Goeyvaerts, grouped in a great cycle for piano and orchestra.

In addition to nearly 200 scores Pousseur wrote in his life numerous articles and several books on music which include fragment 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) belong. He has been awarded honorary doctorates III of the Universities of Metz and Lille, and in 2004 he received an award for his life's work of the Academy Charles Cros.

His son Denis Pousseur ( born August 8, 1958) studied piano and turned in his early years to jazz. He looked at the emergence of some of the works of the Father. From 1980 he composed several film scores.

Style and Technology

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

Works (selection)

Total left Pousseur more than 150 compositions

  • Symphonies (1954 ), for fifteen soloists
  • Quintette 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, created in the studio in Milan
  • Trois Visages de Liège (1961 ), electronic composition
  • Couleurs croisées (1967 ) for large orchestra
  • Votre Faust (1969 ) Opera, where the audience over the course of action tunes, libretto by Michel Butor
  • Invitation à l' Utopia (1971 ), for soloists and ensemble, narrator 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
  • Poets dance of love (1993 ), for two pianos, soprano, baritone, chamber choir and chamber orchestra, after Heinrich Heine