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The Russian composer Edison Denisov, one of the main figures of the so-called “Russian Avant-Garde”, died on November 25, 1996 in Paris, where he lived since summer 1994.

Born in 1929 in Tomsk, Siberia, Denisov began studying mathematics and physics at the University and music at the Conservatory of his hometown.  He presented his first attempts at composition to Shostakovitch who encouraged him to continue his studies at the Moscow Conservatory. There, from 1951 to 1956, he studied composition with Shebalin, orchestration with Rakov, piano with Belov, and analysis with Zuckerman. He also discovered the works of the Second Viennese School, while becoming interested in Siberian folk traditions. In 1959, he started teaching at the Conservatory. During this period, a group of avant-garde composers formed in Moscow, including Denisov, Volkonsky, Schnittke, Karetnikov, Gubaidulina, and Silvestrov. But as their aesthetics received strong disapproval from the Regime, they were left on the fringes of the musical life of their country. However, in Leningrad, in 1961, Guennadi Rojdestvensky managed to perform The Sun of the Incas, for voice and ensemble, one of Denisov’s most representative works. The work was performed again by Pierre Boulez the following year at the Domaine Musical in Paris.  Other performances followed in different European cities, marking the beginning of international recognition for the composer. During the 60’s and 70’s, Denisov wrote many works for different groups, which were then performed by prestigious Russian and western performers such as Aurèle Nicolet, Heinz Holliger, Jean-Marie Londeix, Guidon Kremer, Natalia Gutman.

His musical style, strictly post-serial at first, became progressively more eclectic by integrating various expressive features, sometimes tinged with Romanticism.

The most imposing and striking among Denisov’s works were written during his maturity, in the 1980’s: the Requiem, the operas  L'Ecume des jours, in French, after Boris Vian (premiered at  the Opéra-Comique in1986) and Four Maidens,  after Picasso (premiered in Moscou in 1990), the ballet Confession, after Alfred de Musset, a Symphony commissioned and performed in Paris (1988) and Chicago by Daniel Barenboim. The musical writing of these works is organized around characteristic intonations, chromatic harmonies developed through counterpoints and extremely subtle and complex rhythmic superimpositions.

Denisov also wrote numerous film scores and a series of incidental music written for the plays produced by the stage manager Yuri Lioubimov at the Taganka Theater in Moscow.

In 1990, he founded the New Association of Contemporary Music in Moscow, in echo to the group which had gathered the most eminent forces of the Russian Avant-Garde during the twenties (Roslavets, Mosolov…)

A Francophile and French speaker, Denisov composed numerous works on French texts besides Boris Vian’s: Chant d'automne (Charles Baudelaire), Au plus haut des cieux, written on a poem by Bataille and premiered in Paris in 1987 by the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Peter Eötvös, Quatre poèmes (Gérard de Nerval) , Légendes des eaux souterraines  (Yves Bergeret)He also orchestrated Debussy’s unfinished opera, Rodrigue et Chimène. Admired and helped very early on by Pierre Boulez, Denisov was invited to work at the IRCAM in 1990-1991. He was an Officier des Arts et Lettres and was awarded the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris in 1993.

Through all his works and the different styles he synthesized, his musical writing was always characterized by real refinement and extreme subtlety in voice leading and timbre layout. His inexhaustible creativity was always blended with the “poetry of exactness”, the most specific feature of the scientific spirit.



Works available in the catalogue :

Scores :
  4 poèmes de Nerval (REF:VO4415)
  Au plus haut des cieux (REF:PO2126)
  Blätter (REF:VO959)
  Chant d'automne (REF:PO2157)
  Concerto pour alto et orchestre (REF:PO2010)
  Concerto pour flûte, hautbois, clarinette et percussions (REF:MC4182)
  Concerto pour flûte, vibraphone, clavecin et cordes (REF:PO4165)
  Crescendo e diminuendo (REF:PO2170)
  D.S.C.H. (REF:PO2171)
  Divertissement dans un style classique (REF:PN4272)
  Es ist genug (REF:AP2087)
  Etoile sans nom (Une) (REF:PO4328)
  Hymne (REF:MC4195)
  In Deo speravit (REF:MC4227)
  Légendes des eaux souterraines (REF:VO4039)
  Mari idéal (Un) (REF:PO4329)
  Musique romantique (REF:PO2152)
  Musique romantique (REF:PO2152)
  Octuor à vent (REF:PO4963)
  Ode (REF:MC4229)
  Partita (REF:PO4250)
  Pièces pour enfants (REF:PN4075)
  Pleurs (Les) (REF:PO2154)
  Quintette pour clarinette et quatuor à cordes (REF:MC2129)
  Quintette pour flûte, hautbois, clarinette, basson et cor (REF:PH2139)
  Requiem (REF:PO795)
  Sextuor (REF:MC4223)
  Sonate (REF:FG352)
  Sonate (REF:FG351)
  Sur la nappe d'un étang glacé (REF:PO4033)
  Symphonie de chambre (REF:PO931)
  Symphonie de chambre n°2 (REF:PO4190)
  Tod ist ein langer Schlaf (REF:VC573)
  Tortue Tortilla (La) (REF:PO4330)
  Trio pour hautbois, violoncelle et clavecin (REF:MC2011)
  Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle (REF:PH2140)
  Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle (REF:MC4354)
  Trois tableaux de Paul Klee (REF:MC2012)
  Variations sur un thème de Franz Schubert (REF:VC2013)
  Variations sur un thème de Haendel (REF:PN4288)
  Vie en rouge (La) (REF:PO4344)

Orchestral Material :
  Cloches dans le brouillard (les)
  Écume des jours (L')
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