Igor Wakhévitch

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Igor Wakhevitch (born 12 May 1948 in Gassin-Saint Tropez, France) is an avant-garde French composer who 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 an eminent historian of classical painting, mostly the Italian "Renaissance" period.

Igor Wakhevitch was a contemporary of similar avant-garde electronic composers, such as Pierre Henry, who was born and based in Paris. 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].[1] 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 was fourteen years old only when he was auditioned by the legendary philarmonic orchestra conductor, Maestro Herbert von Karajan at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and in 1965 he 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).

In 1967 whereas studying at the "Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance″ under the guidance of his professor the great French composer genius of the 20th century, Olivier Messiaen, Igor Wakhevitch won the First Prize in Musical Analysis and Esthetics, submitting to the jury his brilliant analysis of the Olivier Messiaen's master piece, the gigantic "Turangalîla Symphony". In 1968, he rejoin the GRM, a laboratory specialized in sound experimental researches, a departement of the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF), under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer.

Igor's encounter with Jean-Michel Jarre, whereas both making their first steps in electroacoustic technics, marked the beginning of a warm friendship between the two musicians, leading to the creation in common 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 a part of the 1970s atmosphere of musical integration and boundary crossing. He was a friend of the legendary British rock psychedelic band Pink Floyd and also a very close friend of the legendary 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 70s, Igor worked with his friend the minimalist American composer Terry Riley, producing Riley's soundtrack album "les Yeux Fermés" for Warner Brothers Records. Through Riley, Wakhevitch discovered the ragas of Pandit Pran Nath.[2] During almost ten years, Igor Wakhevitch has been the composer of many dance-theatre creations of the great American dancer-choreographer Carolyn Carlson at the National Opera of Paris and many other stages and festivals worldwide: Festival d'Avignon, France ; Festival of Jerusalem, Israel ; Festival of Shiraz-Persepolis, Iran ; Theatre de la Ville, Paris ; Grand Theatre of Geneva, Switzerland ; Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Max-Mueller Bhavan-Gœthe Institute, Mumbai ; Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, south India. Etc.

A turning point of his life and career was his encounter with Israel and the great Israeli dancer-choreographer, prima ballerina of "Batsheva Dance Company", Rina Schenfeld, composing the music of her incredible 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 prestigious foundation Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem, the eternal indivisible capital of Israel, Mount Zion (as mentionned in the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, the oldest Holy Scripture of all the humanity).

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 Studios of EMI in Boulogne, performed by various actors, speakers and singers, a string orchestra, choir, soprano soloist Eve Brenner, famous percussionist Sylvio Gualda, and a rock band, featuring 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] Igor 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 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"

In 2007 Igor 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 legendary sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, the superstar of the tabla, the genius 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 (one of the greatest voices of India nowadays), Niladri Kumar (sitar), Raul Sharma (santoor), Rakesh Chaurasia, Purbayan Chatterjee, etc.; and Igor's fantastic 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.

In 1997, the 6-CD box set Donc... was released on Fractal Records to mark the 20th 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. Three new Cds are on the tracks to be released in 2018-2019-2020 and live performances are in preparation.

New original soundtracks to be released in 2018 - 2020 (3 CDs) and a "best of", plus some unreleased recordings.



  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]

  • 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.