Chairman of the Honorary Committee,

Dear Laurent Bayle,

Members of the Scientific Committee and the Honorary Committee,

Dear friends,

 How can we imagine for a moment that the year 2016 is not consecrated as Dutilleux year?

For the century that ends today, since he was born at Angers on 22 January 1916, was certainly his century, the century of Dutilleux. His music is at least immanence.

Dutilleux’s work is a ridge line. Between the avant-garde composers, who were also his contemporaries, and this French tradition of timbre, inherited from Ravel and Debussy, his compositions are imprinted with this tension that crossed the musical life of the twentieth century.

Are not the titles of his works, on this point, eloquent? Stamp, Space, Movement or Starry Night sums up for himself this extraordinary way that he had to bring into his compositions new processes, while claiming the power that music has to mean something. At Dutilleux, the poetic neighbor with the dodecaphonic. Baudelaire, Van Gogh influence and inhabit his compositions. It is probably this ridge line that makes him a composer today so appreciated by the public, and so often performed today.

From Henri Dutilleux, we must also mention this special connection he had with the interpreters. We think of his Concerto for cello, A whole distant world, created by Rostropovitch in 1970. We think of his piano sonata, one of his first works, which his wife had created in 1948. She almost immediately entered the repertoire of pianists. We should mention her marvelous Metaboles, composed for George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. Jean-Claude Casadesus, who often conducted it, spoke better about it than I did. And what I remember, and what continues to move me, is of course the Wolf, which he created for Roland Petit. Because his wife, Geneviève, loved him very much, he took up the double bass motif in The Quotes. He has told you all this much, dear Pierre Gervasoni.

Putting Henri Dutilleux in the spotlight of national commemorations was very important to me.

It is a way to make his work increasingly known to the general public and to share with him the exceptional character of his music. I know that the enthusiastic team gathered by Laurent Bayle will know how to excite and challenge us, like everything that is born and deployed in these fantastic places of the Philharmonie.

It is also a way to advance research. This centennial is a springboard for collecting the scattered traces of the composer’s memory. The INA, the BNF, Radio France and the Philharmonie de Paris work together. The Joy-Dutilleux Association in Pays de Loire, major international players such as the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel, are also contributing their stone.

Commemorations are in fact a time when we can highlight the wonderful work of patience and conviction that our researchers, at the CNRS, provide every day in universities and conservatories. Without them, and I am thinking in particular of the exemplary impulse given by Pierre Gervasoni in the field of research on Henri Dutilleux, we would be without indispensable knowledge. 


I am therefore delighted that we can take advantage of so many events for this hundredth anniversary of Henri Dutilleux.


There is this very rich programming throughout France. I am thinking, of course, of the concert given yesterday by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France or of the concert given here tonight as part of the Biennale de Quatuors à corde. But I also have in mind the strong influence of this year Dutilleux all over France, with the Orchestre national de Lille under the guidance of Jean-Claude Casadesus, with the Orchestre national des Pays de la Loire, conducted by Pascal Rophé, as well as numerous recitals and chamber music concerts held throughout the territory.


A French music ambassador abroad, Dutilleux will be honoured around the world, as evidenced by the tributes that have already begun and that will be paid to him in the coming weeks in Amsterdam, London, New York, Toronto and Tokyo.


Henri Dutilleux — and this is a subject that is particularly close to my heart — was finally a great “smuggler”: between the arts, between generations, between audiences. In this, his work will not fail to reach the youngest, thanks to educational and digital devices. I hope they will be born during this centenary.


That, my dear friends, is what I wanted to say to you today.

We celebrate a generous and discreet man – generous even in his discretion. And we are celebrating a music that has never been more recognized or listened to, and I am, as a music lover and Minister of Culture at the same time, deeply moved.


I wish you an excellent concert.


Thank you.