André Jolivet

1905 - 1974

French

Summary

For André Jolivet (1905-1974), music triumphed over all the arts with which he became acquainted during his childhood: he quickly realized that his vocation was that of composer. André Jolivet studied composition with Paul Le Flem before becoming the sole pupil in France of Edgar Varèse. In 1936 he took part in the creation of the group Jeune France with Olivier Messiaen, Daniel-Lesur and Yves Baudrier. From 1945-1959 he was Musical Director of the Comédie Française. He subsequently founded the Centre Français d’Humanisme Musical in Aix-en-Provence. He held the post of Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire from 1966 till 1970. His very considerable output contains works in all fields – chamber music, concertante works, symphonies, ballets, operas. He was particularly concerned with highlighting and exploiting the possibilities of very many instruments, often thereby establishing them in the mainstream. He has always been guided spiritually by the desire to associate the everyday with the magical, the human with the universal. 
Critical Acclaim
Humanist, pedagogue, traveller and insatiable intellectual, Jolivet's imagination clearly knew no bounds. — Rian Evans, The Guardian

Biography

For André Jolivet (1905-1974), music triumphed over all the arts with which he became acquainted during his childhood: he quickly realized that his vocation was that of composer. André Jolivet studied composition with Paul Le Flem before becoming the sole pupil in France of Edgar Varèse. In 1936 he took part in the creation of the group Jeune France with Olivier Messiaen, Daniel-Lesur and Yves Baudrier. From 1945-1959 he was Musical Director of the Comédie Française. He subsequently founded the Centre Français d’Humanisme Musical in Aix-en-Provence. He held the post of Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire from 1966 till 1970. His very considerable output contains works in all fields – chamber music, concertante works, symphonies, ballets, operas. He was particularly concerned with highlighting and exploiting the possibilities of very many instruments, often thereby establishing them in the mainstream. He has always been guided spiritually by the desire to associate the everyday with the magical, the human with the universal.
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From his earliest youth, André Jolivet regarded his music as a strong affirmation of non-conformity:

"It’s an attitude I’ve held to, come what may. An attitude that will perhaps allow me in the future to express, in a way no less independently, but, I hope, more perfectly, the new relationships in sound that I am aware of and which I see are going to emerge” (André Jolivet, 1933).

Throughout his life, Jolivet remained faithful to this belief. This is clearly borne out by an output comprising more than two hundred works. Another firmly-held belief that he manifested from 1935 until his death was the need "to give back to music its original ancient meaning, when it was the magical, incantatory expression of the religious beliefs of human groups”.

Although Jolivet had no desire to found a school, he felt the need to write a kind of music that addressed itself to mankind in general: the need to combine humanism and universalism. To this end he took on board all musical genres, from works for solo instrument to opera (even though, sadly, Bogomilé ou le Lieutenant perdu remained incomplete), encompassing all possible combinations of chamber music, song, concerto, symphony, cantata, oratorio, dramatic music and music for commercial purposes.

You could also say that he multiplied musical styles, setting them off against each other from one work to the next or even creating a synthesis of styles within one and the same piece. His inspiration could as well derive from sources of traditional non-European music as from jazz, dodecaphony, a certain kind of classicism or from electronic instruments. There was, though, always the same preoccupation with a universal dimension to his music; in which sense his oeuvre remains a powerful testimony in the history of twentieth-century French music.

In 1936, Jolivet co-founded La Jeune France (which developed from the avant-garde chamber music society La Spirale) with Olivier Messaien, Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur and Yves Baudrier.

Association des Amis d'Andre / Lucie Kayas

News

Performances

16th April 2021

SOLOISTS
Mathis Kaspar Stier: bassoon
PERFORMERS
WDR Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Joana Mallwitz
LOCATION
Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany

17th April 2021

SOLOISTS
Mathis Kaspar Stier: bassoon
PERFORMERS
WDR Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Joana Mallwitz
LOCATION
Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany

Photos

Discography