Henri Dutilleux is French composer born in 1916. He produced work in the tradition of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Albert Roussel, but in a style distinctly his own.
As a young man, he studied harmony, counterpoint and piano with Victor Gallois at the Douai Conservatory before leaving for Paris. He worked as Head of Music Production for French Radio from 1945 to 1963. He was appointed to the staff of the Paris Conservatoire in 1970 and was composer in residence at Tanglewood in 1995.
Dutilleux's music extends the legacies of earlier French composers like Debussy and Ravel but is also clearly influenced by Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky. His music also contains echoes of jazz as can be heard in the double bass introduction to his First Symphony and his frequent use of syncopated rhythms.??
Henri Dutilleux numbered as Op. 1 his Piano Sonata (1946-1948). He started working on his First Symphony (1951). His Métaboles (for orchestra, 1965) explores the idea of metamorphosis, how a series of subtle and gradual changes can radically transform a structure.
In the mid-1960's, Dutilleux met Mstislav Rostropovich who commissioned him to write a cello concerto. Rostropovich premiered the work, titled Tout un monde lointain, in 1970. It is one of the most important additions to the cello repertoire of the 20th century. His most remarkable work of that era is the string quartet Ainsi la Nuit (1976). He returned to orchestral works in 1978 with Timbres, Espace, Mouvement ou la Nuit Etoilée, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night. Dutilleux later wrote Mystère de l'Instant (1989), Les Citations (1997), Slava's Fanfare (for Rostropovich's 70th birthday, 1997) and Sur le Même Accord (2003), he completed Correspondances, a song-cycle inspired by poems and letters by Prithwindra Mukherjee, Rilke, Solzhenitsyn and Van Gogh.