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Igor Wakhevitch (born a 12 May in Gassin, a small and wonderful village from the 13th century with a view above the port and gulf of Saint Tropez, France) is an avant-garde French composer. He released a series of studio albums in the 1970s and composed the music of the only opera imagined by Salvador Dalí: Être Dieu ("To Be God"). Igor is the elder son of the very famous set designer, cinema, theatre, opera, ballet Georges Wakhevitch and Maria Carlo (Marica Wakhevitch), a French actress, pupil of George and Ludmilla Pitoeff, and later on, a close associate of Yves Saint-Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy in Paris, in charge of the "prêt à porter" (Boutique Yves Saint-Laurent). Igor's young brother, Alexandre Wakhevitch is a historian of classical painting, mostly the Italian "Renaissance" period.
Igor Wakhevitch is a contemporary of similar avant-garde electronic composers, such as Pierre Henry. Igor Wakhevitch - himself a brilliant classical pianist - was one of the first composer of his generation to introduce in his compositions various kind of electronic keyboards, Moog synthesizer, Synthi AKS, ARP synthesizer, "Ondes Martenot", electronic organ, etc. : some of his albums, as "Logos" or "Hathor", "Nagual", "Let's Start" are amongst the most impressive albums of experimental music released in France in the 70's.
By many all over the world he is considered as a genius. But certainly a very creative soul in a perpetual search of "sounds of power" (occult sounds, the inaudible), a new kind of Sacred Music, cosmic oriented, Igor finding his inspiration from mother universal nature and sacred scriptures, mostly from the Holy Kabbalah (Zohar, Sepher Yetsira, etc.) and other holy books from Hinduism, principally, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gîta, the Sri Aurobindo highly inspired poetry ("Savitri", Collected Poems, etc.) and his great spiritual teachings (The Synthesis of Yoga, The Life Divine, Essay on the Gîta, The Secret of the Veda, Hymns of the Mystic Fire, the Human Cycle, the Ideal of Human Unity, the Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, Three Upanishad, the Roots of Indian Culture, the French Revolution, etc.), not forgetting the incredible legacy of the Mother: "the Mother Agenda" in thirteen volumes.
From the age of eight, Igor Wakhevitch learned to play piano under the tutelage of Marguerite Long, the legendary French classical pianist, and Lucette Descaves. Between the ages of 12 and 17, he studied classical piano and various music disciplines at the "Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance" Conservatoire de Paris. Igor Wakhevitch was only fourteen years old when he was auditioned by the philharmonic orchestra conductor, Maestro Herbert von Karajan at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and was 17 years old when he was awarded the First Prize in Piano (classical) by a unanimous vote of the jury (Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance).
Soon after, whereas studying at the "Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance″ under the guidance of his professor Olivier Messiaen, Igor Wakhevitch won the First Prize in Musical Analysis and Esthetics, submitting to the jury his analysis of the Olivier Messiaen's masterpiece, the Turangalîla-Symphonie. Later on, he rejoined the GRM, a laboratory specialized in sound experimental researches, a department of the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF), under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer.
Igor Wakhevitch's encounter with Jean-Michel Jarre, both making their first steps in electroacoustic technics, marked the beginning of a warm friendship between the two musicians, leading to the joint creation of a score mixing symphonic orchestra (Igor) and electroacoustic tape (Jean-Michel). ("Aor" Igor Wakhevitch-Jean-Michel Jarre, world creation, National Opera of Paris 1972)
Igor Wakhevitch was also the Producer of the Terry Riley's album "Les Yeux Fermés", recorded in France at the Château d'Hérouville and released by Warner. Igor learned a lot from his friend Riley, not only the Indian cuisine, but mostly the art of the micro-cyclic rhythmical patterns.
Igor Wakhevitch was part of the 1970s atmosphere of musical integration and boundary crossing. After they listened to his first album (Logos), Igor was seen a lot with his new friends the British pop-rock psychedelic band the Pink Floyd; he was also a close friend of the French choreographer Maurice Béjart who encouraged him to compose for contemporary dance, while his second album, Doctor Faust was dedicated to his friends Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge, the two leaders of the British psychedelic rock band The Soft Machine. In the mid 1970s, Igor Wakhevitch worked with his friend the minimalist American composer Terry Riley, producing Riley's soundtrack album "les Yeux Fermés" for Warner Brothers Records. Through Riley, Igor discovered the ragas of Pandit Pran Nath. During almost ten years, Igor Wakhevitch has been the composer of many creations of the American dancer-choreographer Carolyn Carlson at the National Opera of Paris and many other stages and festivals worldwide: Festival d'Avignon, France ; Festival of Israel, Israel ; Festival of Shiraz-Persepolis, Iran ; Theatre de la Ville, Paris ; 'Grand Theatre of Geneva, Switzerland ; Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Gœthe Institute, Mumbai ; Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Pondicherry, South India.
A turning point of his life and career was his encounter with Israel and the Israeli dancer-choreographer, Prima Ballerina of "Batsheva Dance Company", Rina Schenfeld, composing the music of her two hours dance solo, "Threads", released by EMI under the title "Let's Start": invited to work in Israel by the Festival of Israel, Igor Wakhevitch was admitted as guest artist of the foundation the Mishkenot Sha'ananim" Jerusalem.
In 1974, Salvador Dalí asked Igor Wakhevitch to compose the music of his 'opera-poem in six parts' entitled "Être Dieu" ("To Be God"). The album was recorded in the EMI Studios in Paris (Boulogne), performed by Dalí in person and various actors (Delphine Seyrig, Alain Cuny, Ramond Gérôme, Catherine Allegret, Didier Haudepin, Léon Zitrone), speakers and singers, a string orchestra, choir, soprano soloist Eve Brenner, the percussionist Sylvio Gualda, and a rock band. ("Sputnik & Statistik") Wakhevitch visited India and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the first time in 1973. In 1991 he had a 45 minutes private audience in Dharmsala (Himashal-Pradesh India) with the 14th Dalai-Lama Tenzin Gyatso: an unforgettable moment in the private apartment of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, Igor Wakhevitch producing and organizing the first tour in Europe of the "Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts" (TIPA), a tour in France and Spain, and two months performance in Paris at the famous Theatre du Rond-Point (ex Theatre Renaud-Barrault). In May 1989, Igor Wakhevitch was honored by an official letter from Sri Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, praising him as follows: "... It was most thoughtful of you to have sent me the renderings of your music which reflect the deep commitment to peace and human brotherhood to which you are so ardently devoted. Yours sincerely, Rajiv Gandhi" (Copyright Igor Wakhevitch, private archives, official letter from Prime Minister of India Sri Rajiv Gandhi).
In 2007 Igor Wakhevitch started in Switzerland his artistic management company "Teentaal Recitals" (The House of Indian Classical Music), acting as the agent of some of the greatest maestros of India: Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia (living national treasure of India), the sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, the santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, the singers maestros of dhrupad, Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha (the Gundecha Brothers), the great voices of North India, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Rajan and Sajan Misra, Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, etc. ; and also, the greatest soloist amongst the new generation of Indian Classical musicians, the bansuri flute prodigy Shashank (Igor's close friend), the young lady vocalist Kaushiki Chakrabarty, Niladri Kumar (sitar), Raul Sharma (santoor), Rakesh Chaurasia, Purbayan Chatterjee, etc.; and Igor's percussionist ensemble "The Sacred Drums of India".
Igor Wakhevitch composed also for many dance and theatre creations in India, mostly in Mumbai (National Center of Performing Arts, Tata Theatre, Gœthe Institute-Max Mueller Bhavan and on the stage of the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium ("The Golden Light", choreography by Paolo Pereira;"The Girl of Sixteen"- the Ten Incarnations of Vishnu - music by Igor Wakhevitch, choreography and dance by Olivier Patey First Dancer and Elisabeth Platel, Prima Ballerina assoluta of the National Opera of Paris; "Amravati", choreography by Peter Morin from the National Opera of Paris, "Harichandra", written and directed by his close friend the young actor-director-writer K. Parthasarathy, etc. ; and many other pieces of music purposely composed for collective meditations.
The 6-CD box set Donc... was released on Fractal Records to mark the 25th anniversary of Igor Wakhevitch's arrival in India. It incorporated his first six albums released initially on vinyl by EMI Records and Atlantic Records: Logos (1970), Docteur Faust (1971), Hathor (1973), 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. Some new Cds are on the tracks to be released in 2018-2019-2020 and live performances are in preparation with his acolyte Ulysse Arzoni and the participation of other musicians from various origins and musical culture.
2008 and following
New original soundtracks to be released in 2018 - 2020 (3 CDs) "best of" and past some unreleased recordings. Live concerts.
Igor Wakhevitch is on Face Book. A group page has been created: Club Igor Wakhevitch & S.S.M.
Igor Wakhevitch is on Instagram.
- Logos (Rituel Sonore) (1970) EMI
- Docteur Faust (1971) EMI
- Être Dieu (1974) Universal
- Hathor (Liturgie du Souffle pour la Résurrection des Morts) (1975) Atlantic Records
- Les Fous d'Or (1973) EMI
- Nagual (''les Ailes de la Perception'') (1977) EMI
- Let's Start (1979) EMI
- Ardhanarisvara (2006) (not yet released)
- 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).
- Fractal Records artist page (in French, but parts of site in English).
- Official website
- fr:Igor Wakhévitch
- Category:Pupils of Olivier Messiaen
- Allmusic entry for Igor Wakhevitch.
- 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.