Malec, Ivo

A French composer born in Zagreb in 1925, Ivo Malec received an academic training in Croatia before embarking on a ‘visible’ life as a musician, with his first works going against the prevailing æsthetic, and with critical writings and a not inconsiderable contribution to the organisation of Croatian musical life. Between 1955 (when he made his first trip to Paris and had a decisive meeting with Pierre Schaeffer, “my only real teacher”) and 1959 (the date of his definitive establishment in Paris) he underwent a markedly profound metamorphosis, discovering his own raw sound material. From then on, seeking out the nature of this material and experimenting with its potential would precede and enrich his every compositional gesture. The primacy accorded to sound and to its complex texture (for Ivo Malec, the many and various linguistic theories as well as musical notation itself were inapt for dealing with this complexity) kept him naturally aloof from the arguments of the supporters and opponents of the Domaine Musical. The discrete Groupe de Recherches Musicales was a haven that enabled him to pursue his research and his singularly original path, and it was also here that, from 1972, he could prepare what became an eminent career teaching composition at the Paris Conservatory until 1990. An understanding of Ivo Malec’s music passes primarily through the experience of the senses, and it evolves within mental rather than physical time. It is full of complex sounds and sound objects more intended for organic combination than for the encouragement of speculation into simply the parameters of musical style. Malec’s music bristles, vibrates even with a ritualism that is as confidential as it is organic: through its vehemence, the emergence of sound grips the listener’s attention; through its omnipresence (even in instrumental or orchestral works), vocality predominates, a timeless anthropological invocation or lyricism that surpasses verbal semantics; finally, through its strength, rhythm becomes a metaphor for the irrepressible pulsation of life that drives every one of Malec’s works. How pertinent therefore appears the double path of adventure chosen by Malec: first, mixed music in which electro-acoustic and conventional instrumental music come together with a straightforward inevitability that avoids the trap of aural gadgetry; secondly, since the 1980s, the challenge by which pure instrumental sound in an ensemble or an orchestra becomes the preferred material for the untiring questioner that is Ivo Malec, whether dealing with questions of form (Exempla, written in 1994) or of anthropological disquiet (Sonoris causa, written in 1997 then Epistola, completed in 2006).

Some of his works:

Arco-1 (1987)
for solo cello
Editions Salabert - On purchase

Attacca (1986)
for 1 percussionist & electronics
Editions Salabert - On hire

Ivo Malec


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