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He was the great-grandson of the painter Constant Dutilleux and grandson of the composer Julien Koszul. He was also a cousin of the mathematician Jean-Louis Koszul. As a young man he studied harmony , counterpoint , and piano with Victor Gallois at the Douai Conservatory before leaving for the Conservatoire de Paris.
He worked for a year as a medical orderly in the army and then returned to Paris in , where he worked as a pianist, arranger and music teacher.
In , he conducted the choir of the Paris Opera. While he always paid attention to the developments of contemporary music and incorporated some serialist techniques into his own compositions,  he also criticized the more radical and intolerant aspects of the movement: "What I reject is the dogma and the authoritarianism which manifested themselves in that period. His frequent use of Robinson[ clarification needed ] mutes in brass section seems to indicate the influence of big band music.
Dutilleux was greatly enamoured of vocalists, especially the jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and the great French chanson singers. This is particularly obvious from an "external" point of view, in the overall organisation of the different movements or the spatial distribution of the various instruments, but is also apparent in the music itself themes, harmonies and rhythms mirroring, complementing or opposing each other. According to Stuart Jefferies, "A passage may be conceived as a symmetrical shape of notes on paper and only later given musical substance.
He loves symmetrical musical figures such as palindromes or fan-shaped phrases A perfectionist with a strong sense of artistic integrity, he allowed only a small number of his works to be published; what he did publish he often repeatedly revised.
In his own words: I always doubt my work. I always have regrets. But the reason I am not more prolific is because I doubt my work and spend a lot of time changing it. He renounced most of the works he composed before it because he did not believe them to be representative of his mature standards, considering many of them to be too derivative to have merit.
It consists of four monothematic movements and has a perfectly symmetrical structure: music slowly emerges from silence first movement—a passacaglia and builds towards a fast climax second—a scherzo and moto perpetuo , keeps its momentum third—"a continuous melodic line that never goes back on itself" , and finally slowly fades out fourth—a theme and variations. In his Second Symphony , titled Le double , the orchestra is divided into two groups: a small one at the front with instruments taken from the various sections brass, woodwind, strings and percussion and a bigger one at the back consisting of the rest of the orchestra.
Although this brings to mind the Baroque concerto grosso , the approach is different: in this piece, the smaller ensemble acts as a mirror or ghost of the bigger one, sometimes playing similar or complementary lines, sometimes contrasting ones. A different section of the orchestra dominates each of the first four movements before the fifth brings them all together for the finale.
As a result, it can be considered as a concerto for orchestra. It consists of seven movements, some of which are linked by short "parentheses". The function of these parentheses is to recall material that has already been heard and to introduce fragments that will be fully developed later. In this composition, Dutilleux attempted to translate into musical terms the opposition between emptiness and movement conveyed by the painting.
The work employs a string section of only lower-register instruments: cellos and double basses, no violins or violas. According to the composer, it is based on a process of continual growth and renewal hence the title : "All in all the piece grows somewhat like a tree, for the constant multiplication and renewal of its branches is the lyrical essence of the tree. In , he completed Correspondances , a song-cycle for soprano and orchestra inspired by poems and letters by Prithwindra Mukherjee , Rainer Maria Rilke , Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn , and Vincent van Gogh.
It consists of four pieces and an instrumental interlude on two poems by Jean Tardieu , one by Robert Desnos and one by Charles Baudelaire. It has been suggested that this section be split out into another article titled List of compositions by Henri Dutilleux.
Discuss March Dutilleux disowned many of the compositions he wrote before his Piano Sonata They are listed separately under Early works.
Sonatine for Flute and Piano
Henri Dutilleux: Sonatine