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Ferrari, Luc

Luc Ferrari was born in Paris, in 1929 and did all the right things to become an honorable serial composer according to the Darmstadt standards: he followed serious courses in piano (with Cortot), composition (with Honegger) and musical analysis (with Messiaen). But then, in 1954, he met Varèse in New York and Scheaffer, produced radio and television broadcasts, and temporally become responsible for various pedagogical and cultural institutions and musical groups (between 1982 and 1994 he was in charge of Muse en circuit, a studio for electro-acoustical composition and radiophonic creation) –and all these experiences lead him through strange paths.

Ferrari doesn’t lay down any theoretical rules, either natural or complicated; he admits he has two “obsessions” that arose from his first finished works, in the fifties: a “cyclic or repetitive” musical style that is “based on a story or narrative”. Well before repetitive music appeared, Ferrari produced compositional structures that are indeed repetitive, but that always get out of control. Chance, a playful element and an unconventional attitude towards norms and customs contribute to introduce accidental elements into his music. Besides, he has noted that: “When I immerse in social life, it creates within me piled up layers of memories. This produces a sort of vague narration with which I spontaneously construct well-balanced forms, and which gives me a perfectly natural sense of musical time”.

But Ferrari’s music cannot be restricted to this formal structure. As early as his first works, the composer introduced into his musical invention two almost unexplored universes, allowing him to reach each listener intimately: new technologies and a certain idea of psychoanalysis. Thus his reflections on the body –the social and the human ones– and on sex constitute a “truly philosophical act” that he treats, not as a philosopher, but as a playful and ironical musician.

Therefore, Ferrari shares his time between producing “memorized sounds” (works that have been produced in the most important European broadcasting studios), and composing scores within which the voice –whether real or imaginary– is revealed without any disguise or system. 

Frank Langlois