Pierre Henry: Sonar Adventures. Sounds between research and fantasy – a week-end of, and with, Pierre Henry
Fri, 11.04.2003 – Sat, 12.04.2003

The Volkswagen Foundation and the Center for Art and Media [ZKM] in Karlsruhe present one of the greatest 20th century innovators of European and international music in an exclusive and extraordinary series of concerts. With his oeuvre, Pierre Henry, who was born in 1927 in Paris, works along an important dividing line in contemporary music – between the (post)–modern development of »serious music« as it is known, and the wide spectrum of research into new sounds with new instruments.

He enjoyed a »classical« training: between 1938 and 1944 he studied composition under Nadia Boulanger, harmony under Olivier Messiaen, and percussion and piano under Félix Passerone at the Paris conservatory. In 1949, together with Pierre Schaeffer, an engineer and music theoretician, Pierre Henry founded a musical research group: up until 1958 they developed »concrete music« [»musique concrète«], an electric-acoustic form of music that experimented above all with new technical instruments. In the 1960s, Pierre Henry pursued his musical research work, and »flirted« with Rock music: 1964 saw the release of an electronic pop song (»Psyche Rock«) that featured in several samplers, and in the 70s the album »Ceremony«, together with Spooky Tooth. He composed works for his friend, the dancer Maurice Béjart, as well as for films and advertising spots. Over the past few years, Pierre Henry has refined his music, which for classically trained ears doubtless sounded somewhat anarchic, into a form of reflective journey between sounds and philosophical thoughts: He aims for a synthesis between sound, spirit and soul – nothing more, but certainly nothing less. Pure noise (something that is commonly heard in today’s electronic pop music) does not interest him. Nowadays, the inventor of modern electronic music poses the question of the meaning behind the sound.

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