Pierre Henry

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Pierre Henry in January 2008

Pierre Georges Henry (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁ ɑ̃ʁi]; 9 December 1927 – 5 July 2017) (Griffiths 2017) was a French composer, considered a pioneer of musique concrète (Williamson 2017).


Pierre Henry was born in Paris, French Third Republic (Dhomont 2001[failed verification]; Anon. 2017b[failed verification]), 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 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 Henry's song, it is considered a variation of the original (Cohen 2001).

Henry died on Wednesday 5 July 2017 at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paris, at the age of 89 (Decalf 2017; Dayal 2017; Gervasoni 2017; Anon. 2017b).


Musique sans titre
Concerto des ambiguities mit Klavier
  • 1952 First film music with musique concrète for Jean Grémillons film Astrologie
  • 1953 Orphée 53, experimental opera for Donaueschingen Festival, first stage play[contradictory] with musique concrète (together with Pierre Schaeffer)
  • 1955 Arcane (ballet)
  • 1956 Haut voltage (ballet)
  • 1958 Coexistence
  • 1959 Investigations
  • 1961 La Noire à Soixante
  • 1963 La Reine Verte (ballet)
  • 1967 Le Voyage (ballet)
  • 1967 Variations pour une porte et un soupir (Variations For a Door And a Sigh)
  • 1967 Messe pour le temps présent (in cooperation with Michel Colombier)
  • 1968 L’Apocalypse de Jean (Die Apokalypse des Johannes) with spoken text
  • 1969 Ceremony (with Spooky Tooth)
  • 1971 Nijinsky, clown de dieu (ballet)
  • 1973 Machine Danse
  • 1973 Kyldex I (cybernetic ballet)
  • 1975 Futuriste, in memory of the Italian Futurists Luigi Russolo
  • 1979 La Dixième Symphonie, tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 1986 La Dixième Symphonie De Beethoven
  • 1990 Le livre des morts égyptien (Book of the Dead)
  • 1997 Interieur/Exterrieur
  • 2015 Choix d'oeuvres de 1950–1985 (Selections of works 1950–1985 on VOD Records Cat VOD133 Edition of 400 on 10xVinyl records)


  • Anon. 2017a. "Pierre Henry". The Times (27 July).
  • Anon. 2017b. "Pierre Henry Has Died Aged 89". Wire (6 July).
  • Anon. n.d. Jérémie Carboni. Zerkalo Production website (Accessed 16 August 2011).
  • Chion, Michel. 2003. Pierre Henry, new, revised edition. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 2-213-61757-0.
  • 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]
  • Dayal Geeta. 2017. "The Life And Work Of Pierre Henry, Ceaseless Sonic Explorer". The Record: Music News from NPR (8 July; retrieved 10 July 2017).
  • Decalf, Guillaume. 2017. "Le compositeur Pierre Henry, figure de la musique électroacoustique, est mort". Francemusique.fr (6 July, accessed 6 July 2017).
  • 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.
  • Gervasoni, Pierre. 2017. "Mort de Pierre Henry, père de la musique concrète". Le Monde (6 July).
  • Griffiths, Paul. 2017. "Pierre Henry Obituary". The Guardian (9 July).
  • 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.
  • Williamson, Marcus 2017. "Pierre Henry: Composer of Musique Concrète". The Independent (13 July).

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