They are trying to save the brick house of a concrete composer

They are trying to save the brick house of a concrete composer


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2018

The Paris home of Pierre Henry, who died last July, is scheduled for imminent demilotion.

Henry was the father of musique concrète. He lived at 32 rue de Toul, in the 12th arrondissement, from 1971 and described it as ‘a temple of electro-acoustic music.’

Admirers have raised a petition to the Culture Minister to keep the wreckers out.




  • Sue says:

    Spelling!!!! Don’t worry about Henry’s home; the post-structuralists will ‘erect’ something alternate in its stead.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    Henry was a pioneer but the real father of musique concrete as Halim el Dabh.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is really interesting. And also revealing:

      “Intrigued by the possibilities of manipulating recorded sound for musical purposes, he believed it could open up the raw audio content of the zaar ceremony to further investigation into “the inner sound” contained within.”

      Here, the ‘inner sound’ is supposed to be found through manipulation (read: distortion) of the sound itself, a psychological intention motivating a materialist approach. The actual sound as given, is thus considered the ‘outer sound’, that which is heard, the aural reality. The inner sound – what could that be? Probably its true meaning. But a focus upon the pure sound won’t reveal anything about its meaning since ‘meaning’ is not a material category, it is an intellectual and psychological one. It is like counting the number of major triads in a piece by Mozart in an attempt to explain the meaning of the piece (as Stockhausen did in his student days), or drawing-up an extensive statistics with all the intervals of a Beethoven sonata (the way music theorist Alan Forte tried to find meaning in the music). Or like dissecting the human brain to find clues about its consciousness, or taking-apart a radio set in order to understand the broadcast programme.

      The exploration of ‘inner sound’ is also, I believe, a motivation behind ‘spectralism’, the sound art which explores the overtone series to find new combinations of the sonic vibrations.

      • Neil van der Linden says:

        Thanks John for the elaborate comment. Zaar is a spiritual rite practiced by descendants of sub-Saharan immigrants, not seldomly of former slaves, in North-Africa and the Middle -East. Compare gnaoua in Morocco, the kaffir rites of Sri Laka, and a lot of Afro-American traditions. Halim El Dabh, himself I think being of (Coptic) Nubian descent, was intrigued by African traditions. But I am sure that he enjoyed the possibilities that going out to record with the wirerecorder offered. The composer did not continue in the music concrete field but rather went ti pure electroacustic siynd generating, and later made recordings with African percussion instruments, althewhile working as composition teacher in theUS.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Is somebody going to record the demolition?

  • Zalman says:

    Who cares? If every composer’s house was saved, where would anyone live? If it is saved, it should be used as housing for other composers, preferably those who compose actual music.