Igor Wakhévitch

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Igor Wakhévitch (born May 12, 1948, Provence, France), son of the art director Georges Wakhévitch, is an avant-garde French composer who released a series of studio albums in the 1970s and composed the music for the Salvador Dalí opera Être Dieu. He was a contemporary of similar avant-garde electronic composers, such as Pierre Henry, who was also born and based in Paris.

Although Wakhévitch is a relatively unknown composer, he gained a small cult following in the late 1990s after praise circulated by Nurse with Wound (on the list of influences in their first album, from 1979), Michael Gira of Swans and a review of one of his studio albums by Dominique Leone for a feature entitled "It Was the Strangest Record I Had Ever Heard" on Pitchfork Media.

From the age of eight, Wakhévitch learned to play piano under the tutelage of Louise Clavius-Marius and Lucette Descaves.[1] Between the ages of 12 to 17, he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris. During this time, he was auditioned by Herbert von Karajan for a concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and in 1965 he won the Jury's First Prize for Piano by a unanimous vote. In 1967, studying under Olivier Messiaen, Wakhévitch won the first prize in Musical Analysis. In 1968, he worked for the GRM in the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer.

Wakhévitch was a part of the 1960s atmosphere of musical integration and boundary crossing. He was friends with Maurice Béjart, who encouraged him to compose for contemporary dance companies, and studied with Pierre Schaeffer; while his second album, Doctor Faust, was dedicated to his friends Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge of rock group The Soft Machine. At the beginning of the 1970s, Wakhevitch became friends and studied with minimalist musician Terry Riley, producing Riley's soundtrack album Happy Ending in 1972. Through Riley, Wakhevitch discovered the ragas of Pandit Pran Nath.[2]

In 1974, Salvador Dalí asked him to compose music to accompany his 'opera-poem in six parts' entitled "To Be God". The album was recorded in the Studios of EMI in Boulogne, performed by various speakers and singers, an orchestra, and a rock band which featured the actors Raymond Gérôme, Delphine Seyrig, Catherine Allegret, Alain Cuny and Didier Haudepin;[3] and musicians Michel Ripoche on violin, Didier Batard on bass and François Auger on drums.[4] Wakhevitch visited India in 1973, and moved to Auroville in South India in 1980. In 1991, he met the Dalai Lama in the Théâtre Renault-Barrault in Paris at a performance by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

In 1998, the 6-CD box set Donc was released on Fractal Records to mark Wakhevitch's 50th birthday. It incorporated his first six albums: Logos (1970), Docteur Faust (1971), Hathor (1974), Les Fous d'Or (1975), Nagual (1977), and Let's Start (1979). Only Être Dieu (1974) was omitted, as it received its own 3-CD box set in 1992.



  1. ^ Fractal Records artist page (in French, but parts of site in English). See also Jean-Claude Pennetier, la confidence au bout des doigts (French language site).
  2. ^ Fractal Records artist page (in French, but parts of site in English).
  3. ^ French Wikipedia article on Raymond Gérôme.
  4. ^ Wayside music record store.

External links[edit]

  • Official site (Completely blank as of August 18, 2007.)
  • Allmusic entry for Igor Wakhevitch.
  • Centennial Magazine entry for Dali's Opera-Poem and performance in 2004, without Wakhevitch's score.
  • John Coulthart entry for the Donc box set and a photo of Wakhévitch.
  • Fractal biography and discography in French.
  • Fractal review of the Donc box set in English and French.
  • Listology entry featuring a paragraph of references and reviews of Wakhevitch.
  • My Record Collection entry featuring a short Wakhévitch review.