Thierry PECOU

Photo © Cyrille Guir

Thierry Pécou studied piano and additionally orchestration and composition at the Paris Conservatoire where he earned first prizes for both study courses. Scholarships for study abroad took him first to Canada from 1989 to 1993, then to Russia from 1994 to 1995 and subsequently to Spain and Latin America from 1997 to 1999.

Shaped by the influences of musical cultures from distant historical periods and locations, Pécou pursues an individual path far from the avant-garde. He was inspired by the language and intellectual world of Pre-Columbian America and Native American civilisations to compose the Symphonie du Jaguar which received its first performance to great acclaim in 2003 played by the Orchestre National d’Ile de France and conducted by HK Gruber. The cantata Passeurs d’eau dating from 2004 also draws inspiration from North American Indians. Traces of other cultures such as Ancient Greece can be found in the concert piece Les filles du feu (for oboe or clarinet and chamber orchestra composed in 1998). Other works additionally make allusions to African and Ancient Chinese music (La Barque au rêve clair for erhu and orchestra written in 2007), less as folkloristic quotations, but more in the form of tonal colouring and intimations.

Pécou composes music across a wide range of genres ranging from solo works to orchestral compositions and lieder with piano to music theatre. Pécou regularly participates in performances of his own works for piano and chamber ensembles and create new interpretations. He founded the Zellig Ensemble in 1998 and was its pianist up to 2010. Pécou is currently the artistic director of the Ensemble Variances in which he also participates as a pianist.

He has composed three operas during the last decade whose L’Amour coupable was premiered by the Opéra de Rouen in 2010 and was cited as the best world premiere of the year 2010 by the Syndicat de la Critique Théâtre, Musique et Danse.

Thierry Pécou is the recipient of numerous prizes including the Pierre Cardin Prize from the Académie des Beaux-Arts (1996), the prize for Young Composers from Sacem (2004). In 2010, the Foundation Simone et Cino del Duca from the Institut de France awarded him the Grand Prix de Composition, and in 2016, he received the Grand Prix of the SACEM for symphonic composition. The recording of his Symphonie du Jaguar with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under the direction of Francois-Xavier Roth issued by harmonia mundi received two awards: the Diapason d’or de l’année 2010 and the award Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros.

Thierry Pécou currently lives and works in Rouen.

Source : Editions Schott


" Méditation sur la fin de l'espèce "

For solo cello, 6 instruments and songs of pre-recorded whales


The rich sonorities of the songs of marine mammals, and what biologists consider to be their creative output, questions the role of human beings in nature since its destruction puts the survival of mankind itself in jeopardy. That question is the central theme of this work, which features a solo cello in dialogue with a number of different whales recorded by the biologist-acoustician Olivier Adam. At the same time, it is an attempt to alter our views on the perceived differences between nature and culture in adherence to the work of the anthropologist Philippe Descola. 

Thierry Pécou

" Orquoy "

For large orchestra




19 April 2013. At Arsenal de Metz, Orchestre National de Lorraine, cond. Jacques Mercier
Commissioned by Arsenal Metz en Scène, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Deutsche Radio-Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserlautern, Schott Music Edition.


Orquoy is inspired by the music of ancient Andean civilisations. The work evokes the atmosphere of fiestas and collective rites: bright colours, the movements of bodies, the ritual consumption of alcohol, a sense of vertigo, the shrill flutes and the power of percussion instruments – this all contributes to a permanent saturation of the senses. For the Quechuas, whose music is characterised by pre-Hispanic elements, the composer is a shaman, wandering between the sphere of the supernatural and the human world. He coaxes melodies out of the Gods – this is the meaning of the word 'orquoy'.
Thierry Pécou


" Les sacrifiées "


Editions Musicales Européennes

Thierry Pecou studied orchestration and composition at the Conservatory of Paris. He was a resident of the Casa de Velazquez in Madrid, winner of the Villa Medicis Hors les Murs, and has received numerous awards for his compositions, which are subject to comissions from institutions and renowned performers .

His work has been performed in places such as festivals "Présence" at Radio-France, the Opera of Umea in Sweden, the Gaudeamus Music -Week in Amsterdam, l'Automne Moscow, New Music Concerts in Toronto, the Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico City, l'Automne in Normandy, Ambronay Festival, Bath Music Festival, Tampere Choir Festival (Finland), Shanghai Spring Music Festival, and the Auditorium in Yokohama, Japan, and at the Salle Pleyel, aux Théâtre de la Ville and Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris.

This composer is one of the rare musicians to bring the act of composition and incarnation on stage. He regularly interprets his own works, on the piano or at the head of Zellig, an ensemble of variable-geometry dedicated to the creation, of which he was the founder, or as a soloist with orchestra, for his piano concertos (Tremendum and L'Oiseau innumérable).

Thierry Pecou committed himself very early in a singular route, away from notions of avant-garde, and post-modernity uniquely focused on the aesthetic history of the west. Throughout his work, the composer went to meet cultures distant in both space and time: the languages and the imagination of pre-columbian America and Amerindian societies in the Symphonie du Jaguar and the cantata Passeurs d'eau , the greek myths that inspired Les filles de feu , the traces of Africa and America in Tremendum a brazilian carnival, Outre -Mémoire and l'Oiseau innumérable , but also ancient China, the tibetan spirituality ... By meeting these traditions, Thierry Pecou dreams of "resonating the whole world" and seeks to give back to music its ritual dimension. Thus conceived, the music invites and absorbs the listener.

The musical form is then separated from the body gesture. The form, the gesture of the player

And possibly, the dance, fall within the same exchange of energy that characterizes the afro-americans - such as the brazilian candomblé or native american shamanic rituals.

His music is part of the epic of the All-World that the martinican poet Edouard Glissant predicts and it is not an even totality but a whole multiplicity of our unpredictable singularities. For Thierry Pecou, complexity is not the subject of art: it results from a listening world. Thus the compositional virtuosity that we hear in Vague de pierre adds incantatory repetition of simple melodic formulas, as when, near an island, a uniform bead of sand runs along the tangled mangrove of the vegetation.

Thierry Pecou also knowns how to sculpt sound into silence to reveal and pass another silence, that to which have been reduced the people and cultures victims of the colonial expansion of the west. It is through metaphor and invoking that Ñawpa opposes resistance to the destruction of the ritual music of the ancient andean civilization Tawantinsuyu.

It is with the force of poetic intention and the skill of writing thatOutre-Mémoire revives the prohibited memory of the victims of the slave trade.

For Thierry Pecou, writing is being faced with another man, in his frailty and suffering. However, substance and musical form as well as their receiption can not be circumscribed by a system or reduced to an expression of ideology. They accompany the composer's thought, but acquire their own existence, beyond the act and the moment of creation.

Jean-Luc Tamby

Käch artists


In my first dreams, before becoming the place of a story, opera would have been the volcanic field where primordial forces would speak, to expergate primary impulses and recurrent pain. Fed with the thoughts of Nietzsche (Naissance de la Tragédie) and Antonin Artaud (Théâtre de la Cruauté), in the traces of the latter, and in his vision of the far-eastern theatre, I wanted opera to occupy itself with the universe and not with man, or rather, that the mysterious force, and metaphorical musical phenomenon revives the link between man and the elements of the cosmos.

In this sense, some of my previous partitions were already operas. "L'Homme Armé" spoke of the war, "La Ville des Césars" of love, and "Passeurs d'eau" of birth and death through a reinvention of amazonian rituals. These works, of course told something, but other than a narrative as tense as a wire, looking - as Gilles Deleuze would have said - to reproduce, to dream again of the myths that we no longer understand, that we would apparently have detached ourselves from.

In contact with the romantic and theatrical universe of Laurent Gaudé, I found the material that I dreamed of to push "the ritual opera" towards the demands of opera and its traditions: a very highly topical subject, but treated with the mythical breath which is required to take a necessary distance.

The shadow of the greek tragedy underlies and structures "Les Sacrifiées" from end to end. The story presents characters whose profile takes prime over the archetypal psychology. The human being does not arise from tracking individual personalities that evolve in the course of the narrative, but rather with situations that conflict with their free will. For Raïssa, Leïla and Saïda, the curse is stronger than the will, it is the archetype that dominates, it's the crushing weight of power and history that act like a steamroller, in relentless principle of a tragic reality. It is humanity ever caught up by his demons, mired in its own contradictions. Victims of today become the executioners of the next. Situations turn around, reverse in a disturbing symmetry.

To make these tensions exist, the balance of power, I designed around the book of Laurent Gaudé , a voice device with three female singers who play the three women, and a choir made up of a female singer, two singers (tenor and bass-baritone), an actress and three actors. The choir performs a dual function: it is the tragic chorus of the antique while giving secondary roles as they are extracted during the progress of action. The mixture of actors and singers allowed me to consider a very involved dramatic presence and a choir matter that declines from spoken to sung words or from parlérythmé to cry. to the choir, joins the lyricism of the voices of the three protagonists. Their song cultivates ambiguity between popular song and lyric singing, ambiguity which culminates in great lamentations at that end of each part.

In the background of each of the three scenes (Note that Gaudé does not use the word "scene" but only the names of the women to describe each part: Raïssa, Leïla Saïda) emerges a musical sound space having its own colour. Each time, a radical opposition is exposed between two worlds that can not understand each other, produced in two types of writing and two types of harmonic universe.

In "Raïssa" on one side the world of the French army which is that of verticality; things pile up, impose themselves from above, as the military hierarchy. The writing is harmonious, homophonic, homorhythmic. On the other hand, the Djemâa, but also the arid landscape, are represented by the horizontal melodic lines often presented in a count out to the monody.

In "Leïla", this opposition verticality / horizontality is always latent, even if the border is less clear. The choir fades out and the percussion appears, imposing a rhythmic presence that brings to the front the ritual dimension. The percussion becomes a voice, mirror or shadow of the singing women, here by the colouring of instrumental textures, and there by giving a fine rhythmic base rotating on Arabic rhythms, or releasing a torrent of powerful and raging forces.

In "Saïda", the contrast between two worlds becomes intra cultural: the side of the vertical, the male world with the fundamentalists, the curse and the drama that is imposed from above, on the other hand, the world of women, linear, more spread out, fleeing and curving. Each of the two writings plays on its own register of complexity.

The harmony involves complex alloys of heights and notes in tempered sounds. The melody, works on the modal colour borrowing from arab modes of quarter tones, and the spirit of ornamentation.

I sometimes drew, and in all innocence, the modes of expression that I wanted to load the text with various sources by listening to great oriental singers - Oum Kalsoum, Houria Aichi in particular - and arab-andalusian music, Tuareg, Berber, Sufi, etc. . This detour by elseware is not only motivated by the action of territorializing the sacrificed. It is also a way for me to freely revitalize the language of opera, and try to give it the scope it should have by the critical eye that it poses on our world.

Thierry Pecou, January 2008