Pierre Henry

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Pierre Henry in January 2008

Pierre Henry (born 9 December 1927) is a French composer, considered a pioneer of the musique concrète genre of electronic music.


Pierre Henry was born in Paris, France, and began experimenting at the age of 15 with sounds produced by various objects. He became fascinated with the integration of noise into music. He studied with Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen, and Félix Passerone at the Paris Conservatoire from 1938 to 1948 (Dhomont 2001).

Between 1949 and 1958, Henry worked at the Club d'Essai studio at RTF, which had been founded by Pierre Schaeffer in 1943 (Dhomont 2001). During this period, he wrote the 1950 piece Symphonie pour un homme seul, in cooperation with Schaeffer; he also composed the first musique concrète to appear in a commercial film, the 1952 short film Astrologie ou le miroir de la vie. Henry has scored numerous additional films and ballets.

Two years after leaving the RTF, he founded with Jean Baronnet the first private electronic studio in France, the Apsone-Cabasse Studio (Dhomont 2001).

Among Henry's works is the 1967 ballet Messe pour le temps présent (Dhomont 2001), a collaboration with choreographer Maurice Béjart that debuted in Avignon (Rubin 2001,[page needed]). In 1970 Henry collaborated with British rock band Spooky Tooth on the album Ceremony (Rubin 2001, 308).

Composer Christopher Tyng was heavily inspired by Henry's "Psyché Rock" when writing the theme to the popular animated cartoon show Futurama. The theme is so reminiscent of the Henry's song, it is considered a variation of the original (Cohen 2001).


Musique sans titre
Concerto des ambiguities mit Klavier
  • 1952 Erste Filmmusik in musique concrete für Jean Gremillons Film Astrologie
  • 1953 Orphèe 53, Experimentaloper für die Donaueschinger Musiktage, erstes Bühnenstück in musique concrète (zusammen mit Pierre Schaeffer)
  • 1955 Arcane (Ballett)
  • 1956 Haut voltage (Ballett)
  • 1959 Coexistence


  • French director Jérémie Carboni is filming a documentary on a story of musique concrète including Pierre Henry (Anon. n.d.).


  • Anon. n.d. Jérémie Carboni. Zerkalo Production website (Accessed 16 August 2011).
  • Clark, Philip. 2009. "Interior Designs: An Interview with Pierre Henry". The Wire (July): 36–39.
  • Cohen, David X. 2001. Commentary track to Futurama, Season 1 (television series, 13 episodes). 3 DVD set. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[need quotation to verify]
  • Dhomont, Francis. 2001. "Henry, Pierre". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Chion, Michel. 2003. Pierre Henry, new, revised edition. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 2-213-61757-0.
  • Kennedy, Michael. 2006. The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861459-4
  • Rubin, Don. 2001. The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Europe. Taylor & Francis.

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