Tout un monde lointain...

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Tout un monde lointain...
Concertante music by Henri Dutilleux
Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist for whom the work was written, in 1959
EnglishA whole distant world...
Based onpoetry by Charles Baudelaire
Composed1967 (1967)–70
  • cello
  • orchestra
Date25 July 1970 (1970-07-25)
LocationFestival d'Aix-en-Provence
ConductorSerge Baudo

Tout un monde lointain... (A whole distant world...) is a concertante work for cello and orchestra composed by Henri Dutilleux between 1967 and 1970 for Mstislav Rostropovich. It is considered one of the most important 20th-century additions to the cello repertoire[1][2][3] and several major cellists have recorded it.[4] Despite the fact that the score does not state that it is a cello concerto, Tout un monde lointain... has always been considered as such.[1]

Each of the five movements was inspired by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire,[1] and the overall feel of the work is mysterious and oneiric. A typical performance runs approximately 27 minutes.[5]


The work was initially commissioned by Igor Markevitch for the Concerts Lamoureux and Mstislav Rostropovich around 1960. Occupied with other projects, Dutilleux only completed the concerto in 1970. Since Markevitch had left the Concerts Lamoureux in 1961, Rostropovich was accompanied for the premiere by the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Serge Baudo, at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (25 July 1970). The cello part was edited by the Russian cellist and published with his fingerings.


In addition to the solo cello part, the concerto is scored for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, three horns, two trumpets, two trombones, tuba, celesta, harp, timpani, percussion (bongos, tom-toms, snare drum, bass drum, crotales, triangle, suspended cymbals, cymbals, gongs, tam-tams, xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel), and strings.


The piece has five movements, each bearing a title and a quotation from a poem from Les fleurs du mal, by Charles Baudelaire. Dutilleux began to work on Baudelaire's poetry on Roland Petit's advice.

The title of the score itself is a quotation from the poem La chevelure: "Tout un monde lointain, absent, presque défunt" (A whole distant world, absent, almost defunct) which is included in Les fleurs du mal. Moreover, each movement is prefaced by a quotation from Baudelaire.

There is no break or pause between the movements.


  1. Énigme (Enigma)
    The piece opens with soft drum and cymbal rolls followed by a tentative 12-note theme played by the cello. This theme is cross-referenced throughout the work.[1] The orchestra appears gradually and starts a dialogue with the soloist. The music is at first quiet but leads to the main section which is highly rhythmic and displays extended techniques. It ends with the soloist playing a high A, which is also the first note of the second movement.
  2. Regard (Gaze)
    This is the first slow movement of the work. The cello line is modal in character and stays in the instrument's high register. The music forms a long arch and ends on a reprise of the motif that opened the work.
  3. Houles (Surges)
    The middle movement functions as a scherzo with an extremely difficult solo part.[1] It is a colourful and dream-like seascape that starts with a passage for cello alone, gradually joined by the orchestra. The last notes provide a link to the next movement.
  4. Miroirs (Mirrors)
    This is the second slow movement. The cello line is once again modal. It is accompanied by calm, liquid pulsation from the percussions and "mirror" chords played by the harp as well as phrases in backwards motion by the violins. Towards the end, the 12-note motif that opened the work reappears.
  5. Hymne (Hymn)
    The last movement recasts some material from the preceding movements. The music goes through several nervous climaxes then disappears suddenly on a suspended tremolo figure played by the cello.



  1. ^ a b c d e Michael Jameson. Tout un monde lointain..., concerto for cello & orchestra at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Event Guide for Concert of 12 March 2009". London Symphony Orchestra. 2009. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  3. ^ Peters, Jean-François (10 January 2007). "Henri Dutilleux Tout un monde lointain... concerto pour violoncelle en présence du compositeur" (in French). Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  4. ^ Culot, Hubert (2008). "CD Review – Dutilleux Cello Concerto, Aeon AECD0861". Musicweb. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Tout un monde lointain..." (work details) (in French and English). IRCAM.

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