Galaxie Pierre Henry, a new 13CD box set and eAlbum featuring compositions by musique concrète pioneer and one of the 20th Century’s most influential composers Pierre Henry, is out now. The new anthology includes a selection of 33 works composed between 1958 and 2017, a third of them released for the first time. Galaxie Pierre Henry compliments the 12 CD box set Polyphonies, released in 2017, and together they present a comprehensive anthology of Pierre Henry’s work.
Features landmark compositions and previously unreleased tracks
Galaxie Pierre Henry features landmark compositions including Le Voyage, Messe Pour le Temps Présent (his most famous piece), Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir, Messe de Liverpool, Apocalypse de Jean and Dracula. The previously unreleased tracks include La Note Seule and Grand Tremblement, composed in 2017, the year Pierre Henry passed away.
Pierre Henry was born in Paris, on 9 December 1927, and studied at the Paris Conservatoire from 1937 to 1947 with Olivier Messiaen, Nadia Boulanger and Félix Passerone. He then worked with musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer at the Studio d’Essai RTF (France’s Radio and Television ‘Experimental Studio’) where composers could create new work. At that studio, in 1950, Henry and Schaeffer wrote electronic music’s first great masterwork, Symphonie Pour un Homme Seul, a piece generated from the various sounds created by the human body.
“Musique concrète is the art of decision”
In 1952 Henry composed the first musique concrète ever commissioned for a commercial film, for Jean Grémillon’s Astrologie, and a year later he premiered Orpheé 53, the first musique concrète piece composed for the stage. Musique concrète, ‘concrete music’, is a groundbreaking form of music using collages of prerecorded and manipulated sounds from both electronic and acoustic sources. In the 2007 documentary about his work, The Art of Sounds, Pierre Henry noted, “Musique concrète is the art of decision. It’s the art of choice. You select one sound over others and that’s where composing begins.”
After leaving RTF Pierre Henry founded his own studio, Apsome, which was the first private studio in Europe devoted to experimental and electro-acoustic music. Pierre Henry was an absolute precursor in the sound-aesthetics domain and he relentlessly employed constantly evolving technologies to explore the unprecedented musical universe.
Psyche Rock inspired generations of DJs and producers
In 1967 Pierre Henry composed his most famous piece, the score for the ballet Messe Pour le Temps Présent with Michel Columbia, for choreographer Maurice Béjart, which includes a Psyche Rock section that inspired generations of DJs and producers. It has also been featured in numerous film scores including 2004’s Mean Girls (remixed by Fatboy Slim) the 1969 thriller Z, and repurposed, by composer Christopher Tyng, as the theme tune for the American TV series Futurama.
Pierre Henry influenced generations of contemporary musicians and composers including Karlheinz Stockhausen and even The Beatles. He died on 5 July 2017, at the age of 89, in Paris.
Galaxie Pierre Henry is out now and can be bought here.