Le temps l'horloge

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Le temps l'horloge
Song cycle by Henri Dutilleux
Renée Fleming 4 Shankbone Metropolitan Opera 2009.jpg
Renée Fleming whose voice inspired the composition, in 2009
EnglishTime and the Clock
Based onpoems by Jean Tardieu and Robert Desnos, later Baudelaire
Composed2006 (2006)–2007
Movementsthree, later five
  • soprano
  • orchestra
Date6 September 2007 (2007-09-06)
LocationSaito Kinen Festival Matsumoto
ConductorSeiji Ozawa

Le temps l'horloge (Time and the Clock) is a song cycle for soprano and orchestra, by the French composer Henri Dutilleux.

He wrote the original three-movement version between 2006 and 2007 based on two poems by Jean Tardieu ("Le temps l'horloge" and "Le masque"), and one by Robert Desnos ("Le dernier poème"'). He later added a fourth purely instrumental movement, "Interlude", inspired by another Tardieu poem ("Le futur antérieur"), and a fifth based on Charles Baudelaire's prose poem, "Enivrez-vous".

The work was composed for American soprano Renée Fleming, whom Dutilleux called "a great artist". The composer said, "I constantly thought of her voice's character, of her power of lyrical expression" while writing the piece.[1]

Performance history[edit]

Le temps l'horloge was jointly commissioned by the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto (Seiji Ozawa, Director), the Boston Symphony Orchestra (James Levine, Music Director), and the Orchestre National de France (Kurt Masur, Music Director).[2]

Seiji Ozawa led Fleming and the Saito Kinen Orchestra in the world premiere on 6 September 2007, at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto City, Japan.[2] Fleming gave the American premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine, on 29 November 2007, and the same performers gave the New York premiere on 3 December 2007, in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.[3]

The première of the complete five-movement work took place on 7 May 2009 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris. The performers included Renée Fleming (soprano), the Orchestre National de Radio France and Seiji Ozawa (conductor).[4] She and the Boston Symphony presented the US première of this version under François-Xavier Roth on 14 January 2016.


Le temps l'horloge is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, three horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, crotales, high and medium suspended cymbals, two tam-tams, wood block, bass drum, vibraphone, marimba, harp, celesta, harpsichord, accordion and strings.


  • Renée Fleming, Seiji Ozawa and the Orchestra National de France – Poèmes – Decca CD – 2012.


  • Anon. (9 May 2009). "Le Temps l'horloge, dernier chef-d'oeuvre de Dutilleux". Le Monde (in French). p. 1.
  • Driscoll, F. Paul (February 2008). "Renée Fleming, James Levine & the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, 12/3/07". Opera News. 72 (8).
  • Machart, Renaud (9 May 2009). "Le Temps l'horloge de Dutilleux, enfin complet: Au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Renée Fleming et Seiji Ozawa créent l'intégrale du cycle composé pour la soprano". Le Monde (in French). p. 20.
  • May, Thomas (2007). "Henri Dutilleux: Le Temps l'Horloge". Boston: Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • Potter, Caroline (1997). Henri Dutilleux: His Life and Works. Aldershot (UK), and Brookfield, Vermont (US): Ashgate Publishing Company. ISBN 1-85928-330-6.
  • Potter, Caroline (2001). "Dutilleux, Henri". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 7 (second ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. pp. 770–72.
  • Weininger, David (23 November 2007). "BSO-Composer Relationship Proves Fruitful]". The Boston Globe.

External links[edit]