2014-02.23 Liam G(erard) (Grisey)


                        Von:             Liam Cagney <Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!>

            Betreff:             RE: Mesias Maiguashca: Study of the French spectral movement


20. Dezember 2013 14:12:33 MEZ

Dear Mr Maiguashca,

I'm a musicologist based at City University London, and I'm currently writing a study of the development of the French 'courant spectral' in the 1970s. I'm hoping my study may be published as a book when it is completed. In spring I will be spending two months studying the Grisey Collection at the Sacher Foundation in Basel, and I'm also hoping to interview Murail, Dufourt and Levinas.

One of my aims is to write a history focusing on the composers' personalities as well as their music, since I feel in the writing on the courant spectral to date, historical and biographical detail has been lacking.

I am of course a fan of your beautiful music - FMelodies II, which I own on a Wergo CD, is a favorite, and I have been listening recently too to Ayayayay. I'm wondering if you would be willing to share any memories you have of time you spent with the composers of l'Itinéraire during the 1970s. I would be extremely grateful if so.

I have been told by a few people, for example, that Mr Grisey was a warm person with a good sense of humour, and this certainly comes across in his writings. Did you get to know Grisey and the other composers of l'Itinéraire? If so, do you have any anecdotes you would like to share?

Many thanks in advance for any help you can give.

With best wishes from London,

Liam Cagney


Dear Liam,

Thank you for your inquiry,

I will try to give you a short view concerning my experiences with L´itineraire. I think that they might be of interest for you.

In my opinion “Stimmung” from Stockhausen (1968) is one of the important moments of departure in the development of “spectral Music” in Europe. It was composed for the Collegium Vocale Koeln (6 female and 6 male voices) and performed many hundred of times in the next two years around the world. I myself did the sound-projection in about more than fifty concerts. The next big project in this direction was “Sternklang” (1971), also from Stockhausen, which used not only a vocal group but many other instrumental free-lance groups:

.Intermodulation, from Cambridge,

.The Gentle Fire from London,

.Feedback Studio, from Cologne, around Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar and David Johnson.

.The Oeldorf-Gruppe, from Oeldorf by Cologne, around Peter Eoetvos and Mesias Maiguashca.

This type of free-lance groups were “on the air” at the time. The independence of institutions (orchestras, conservatories), and the appearance of very experimental electronic and improvising techniques proved to be an explotion in Europe.

Among other factors, “Stimmung”, “Sternklang” and the presence of many groups from the Eastern tradition of obertone singers, prepared the european community (musicians, performers and public) for the perception of spectral listening.

A paralel event in the realm of audiotechnick was the development of the Fourier Analysis in many diferent “flavours”, which made possible the spectral analysis of all kind of sounds.

Thus, the apparition of L´itineaire in the early seventies was certainly no surprise.

The “frienship” between the Oeldorf Group and L´Itineraire begann in the middle of the seventies through the personal contac between Tristan Murail, Michael Levinas on one side and Emanuel Nunes (very close to the Oeldorf Group), Peter Eotvos and myself, on the other. Many of the concerts of L´itineraire featured compositions from the Oeldorf Gruppe. Claude Vivier, was a very frequent guest in Oeldorfer Summernight Concerts.

My contact with Gérard was more personal, since he was not very active in the administrative concerns of L´itineraire. We met many times, in Paris and  Freiburg, always around musical activities, concerts, lectures. We talked of course about music. With no end. And laughed a lot. And made plans for the next meeting.

I recall warmly one particularly occassion:

My composition  ...y ahora vamos por aquí... (1977) was performed many times by L´itineraire, the first time in Paris around 1980(?). It was conducted by Peter Eotvoes,  Tristan Murail provided with a synchronization signal. Gérard was in the concert, I even think that we sat together (I am not sure). I recall however clearly that after the concert we sat together at a nearby Restaurant, were happy and laughed a lot.

I learned about his death from a very good friend of both of us, Jean-Max Dussert, clarinetist of LÍtineraire. Uffff!

Jean-Max organized in April 2008:

Conservatoire National de Region, Centre Georges Corse, Boulogne-Bilancourt, Paris

La Semaine de la musique contemporaine

Hommage a Gerard Grisey

 I participated with

- ...y ahora vamos por aquí...

- Tongeographie IV

Thank you for your comments on FMelodies. I suggest that, if you can spare the time, look into:

...y ahora vamos por aquí... , an early example of  somewhat you could call “spectral music”.


Reading Castañeda, a cycle of six compositions with very particular uses of spectral thinking:


The following link shows an analytic description of the cycle.


Thank you, Liam. It was nice to recall a nice period of mi life, the friendship with L´Itineraire and the person and music of Gérard,


Mesias Maiguashca
Bozenerstr. 9a
79111 Freiburg Germany
T. 00-49-(0)761 - 4763277
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