Title: Le carillon d’Orléans
Composer: Philippe Hersant
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by bells. You can find them a lot in my symphonic and lyrical pieces (for example at the end of Château des Carpathes), but they also appear a lot in my chamber music with piano (my Trio is presented as a suite of variations on Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève du Mont de Paris by Marin Marais, one of the most beautiful carillons ever written).
When I was on the jury for the Concours International d’Orléans 2014 last March, I couldn’t walk past the cathedral without thinking of the four-note carillon on which Christophe Moyreau (titular of the great organs in the middle of the 18th century) wrote his Cloches d’Orléans.
Later Françoise Thinat did me the honour of commissioning a piece for the Concours 2016 and, naturally, I had the idea to write a great carillon in the same vein as Moyreau did three centuries before me. I imagine the music will sometimes resound and exhilarate, and at other times it will be nostalgic and distant; I want the music to be poetic and refined, and also to make use of the piano’s resonances.
Note of intent from Philippe Hersant, Commissioned by Orléans Concours International for the 12th Orléans International Piano Competition.
Born in 1948 in Rome, Philippe Hersant studied at the Paris Conservatoire Supérieur, in particular in André Jolivet’s composition class. First between 1970 and 1972, and then between 1978 and 1980 he was, respictively, a Casa Velasquez and a Villa Medici grant holder.
Refusing to make compromises with history, Philippe Hersant has forged a language that continues the tradition of all Western music. And though he never sought to create a popular composition technique, he was one of the first of his generation to return to a tonal and modal musical space. However, he has banished all neo-classical inclinations from his work.
Philippe Hersant’s catalogue includes some ninety compositions (without counting his soundtracks and scores for the theatre). He is widely recognized in the current contemporary music scene. He has received commission from illustrious institutions such as the French Ministry of Culture (Missa brevis in 1986), Radio France (Le Château des Carpathes in1992), and Violin Concerto in 2003. He was also the featured composer at the Présences Festival (2004), at the Leipzig Opera (Le Moine noir, 2006), at the Lyons National Orchestra (Paysage avec ruines, 1999), the Montpellier National Orchestra (Concerto for cello n°2, 1997) and at Musique nouvelle en liberté (Cinq pièces pour orchestre, 1997).
He has also won several awards in the world of music: the Musical Grand Prix of the City of Paris (1990), the SACEM Composers’ Prize (1991), the SACEM Symphonic Music Prize (1998), two Victoires de la Musique Classique (2005 and 2010), and the High School Grand Prix Composer’s Prize (2012).