Philippe LEROUX

© Pierre Raimbault


Philippe Leroux was born on September 24, 1959 in Boulogne sur Seine (France). In 1978, he entered the National Conservatory of Music in Paris in the classes of Ivo Malec, Claude Ballif, Pierre Schäeffer and Guy Reibel where he won three first prizes. During this period, he also studied with Olivier Messiaen, Franco Donatoni, Betsy Jolas, Jean‐Claude Eloy and Iannis Xénakis. In 1993, he was appointed resident at the Villa Medici (Rome Prize) where he stayed until October 1995.

He is the author of nearly eighty works, for symphony orchestra, vocals, with electronic devices, chamber music and acousmatics. These works were commissioned by the most renowned French and foreign institutions and are performed and broadcasted in many countries.

He has received numerous prizes:

-   Hervé Dugardin prize for "the best contemporary musical creation of the year 1996" for his work "(d')ALLER",
-   SACEM prize for composers,
-   André Caplet and Nadia and Lili Boulanger prize,
-   2015 composition prize from the Simone and Cino del Duca Foundation of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institut de France,
-   Paul and Mica Salabert prize for his work Apocalypsis,
-   and the Arthur Honegger prize from the Fondation de France for the all of his work.

In 2015, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

He has published numerous articles on contemporary music and given lectures and composition courses in places such as the Collège de France, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Moscow), Grieg Academie (Bergen), Columbia University (New‐ York), Royal Conservatory of Copenhagen, Catholic University of Santiago de Chile…

From 2001 to 2006 he taught composition at the IRCAM as part of the computer music course and in 2005/2006 at the McGill University in Montreal (Canada) as part of the Langlois Foundation. From 2007 to 2009, he was in residence at the Arsenal de Metz and the Orchester National de Lorraine, then from 2009 to 2011, Guest Professor at the University of Montreal (UdeM). Since September 2011 he has been an Associate Professor of composition at the Schulich School of Music at the McGill University. He is currently in residence at the MEITAR ensemble in Tel‐Aviv.

His discography includes around thirty CDs including 7 monographs.

His first opera “L’Annonce fait à Marie” premiered in October 2022 at Angers‐Nantes Opéra.

Extracted and translated in English from the French version of his biography available on the same site.




" L'annonce faite à Marie "





> Distribution : Violaine Vercors, soprano - Mara Vercors, mezzo-soprano -
Elisabeth Vercors, mezzo-soprano - Anne Vercors, baritone -
Jacques Hury, baritone - Pierre de Craon, tenor

> Duration : Prologue: 18 mins, Act I: 19 mins, Act II: 32 mins, Act III: 36 mins, Act IV: 37 mins.

The Tidings brought to Mary is a carnal text as much as it is spiritual. Claudel's writing, with extraordinary accuracy when he speaks both of amorous passion and metaphysics, come together with my work which seeks a balance between the corporeality of sound and the abstractive constructions. From my first reading of the piece, I was struck by the strength of Violaine, who never stops on the rough path she has carved out for herself, and by the authenticity of Mara, whose intuition is also greater than his will to possess beings and goods. I therefore made the choice, far from any Manichaeism, to musically treat the two main characters in all their complexity and ambiguity. We thus find frivolity and mischief, when Violaine vocally plays with certain phonemes, and childlike purity in the nursery rhymes that Mara sometimes sings.

I also wanted to get closer to the famous "spoken opera", according to Paul Claudel's own expression … by composing an opera that is both dramatic and poetic. The vocal writing oscillates between musical periods where the text is sung in a perfectly understandable way, and recitatives which offer a “floating” rendering, allowing the listener to freely associate the words with each other. A dialectic is thus created between the ordinary meaning of the words, which supports the dramatic narration, and a general, poetic significance, carried by the voices, the instruments and the electroacoustic part.

In moments of declamation, the text is said within a musical texture composed of a sound synthesis of Claudel's voice (produced at the Ircam by a synthesis system using neural networks). The idea is to musically stage the author himself, as if he were dreaming, was writing his text, reciting it to himself, or guiding us in our listening. In the same vein, I used the graphic design of Claudel's writing, analyzing the gestural data (shape of the letters, thickness of the lines...).

It is thus, by transposing them into the musical domain, that most of the melodic and harmonic movements were generated, which make up the musical framework of the opera. The musical elements are thus born from the voice and calligraphy of the author.

By doing this, I wanted to accentuate the deeply autobiographical and human aspect of this drama, in which Claudel crudely shows the various passions and amorous rivalries of the two sisters, as well as the reactions and sometimes the cowardice of the men who love them, all at the heart of a mystical light.

Philippe Leroux

Extracted and translated into English from the French version available on this same site.

" Total solo "




April 13th, 2014, Paris, Cité de la musique, by the Ensemble intercontemporai, direction: Bruno Mantovani.


Total solo was composed in 2012/2013. Work joints in the form of a plait entangling four bites, introducing 28 instruments of group as meta-instrument worked out in petto, in the form of an alone long solo. This one fans out in a forever unstable sound line, a generalised solo constructs the inside, sometimes subdivided into individual solos (flute bass, cor anglais, horn, small trumpet, violin and contrabass), in group of soloists same six instruments), or overlapping him even according to any kind of canonical techniques (gap, retrogressive, mirror and palindrome).

The first bite is a kind of composite and composite monophony (close in it of Klangfarbenmelodie who juxtaposes stamps), worked out by the fusion of different sound materials. Second is constituted individual solos very virtuosos, who can by instants "freeze" in a quasi-immobile movement, after whom the virtuosity, then, is fond only of tensions procreated by the maintaining of position. The third bite reduces second in six stacked solos, while the fourth bite piles canonical variants of the first.

The major interest of the structure of plait, which I use mainly since 2006 (Extended Apocalypsis, L’Unique trait de pinceau, Ami…Chemin…Oser…Vie…), is fond of the fact that every bite follows its evolution, even during the instants when it is not heard. This creates virtual definite trajectories between every reappearance of a bite. Bites disappear and reappear, but ever strictly in continuity with the instant when they were interrupted. The plait (topological face which is also found in ricercare or exhibitions of running away), has of this fact a macro definite stake, in this way of juxtaposing and of creating virtual links between big types of materials which constitute work, in the course of its holding. She causes a kind of paradox, of temporal short-circuit. The notions of fusion and of fission of object or of sound motive are also in the centre of the composition of Complete SOLO, notably on harmonic plan. So, every agreement is constituted of formants of density which sometimes meet, sometimes part, constituting so a rhetoric based on the displacement of elements inside a musical object. By analogy, it would be possible to compare them with sound satellites which break loose or incorporate in a central rocket, generating agreements so stamps having different zones of densities (of the most scattered in the most saturating) or of vibrations.

They will also underline that the aspect instrumental gesture is very present in the form of “gestural topic” (himself native to the association of a melodic profile and of a talea coming both of a series of proportions generated by the modulation of frequency of both highest notes and the lowest of the room) on which are founded all solos of work.

The room explores relations between soloists and groups of soloists, as well as between merged group and dissociated group, as so much metaphors of reports between an individual and his close environment, a united crowd and a divided multitude: reports of the individual to the group, of the small group in the mass, interactivity, conflict, the incommunication, destruction, love... These complex and rich relations register through the notions of harmonic light, of internal density, of gestural report and of definite pronunciation, as structural elements governing passages and circulation between the instrumental partners (does not the relation allow to stay oneself?)

Philippe Leroux

" Extended Apocalypsis "



27/09/2011,  as part  of « Integra  II  » Festival in  Copenhague (Danemark), by  Raphaële Kennedy and Valérie Philippin (sopranos), FrancineVis (mezzo-soprano), Romain Bishoff (baritone) and the Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen Ensemble, under the direction of Pierre- André Valade.


Instrumentation: 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano et baryton 16 instruments - 2 perc, hp,pno  Commissioned by « Integra - Fusing music and technology » and Athelas Sinfonietta of the Integra Ensemble. Electronics realized at IEM (Institut  für Elektronische Musik and Akustik).

" Extended Apocalypsis is a work for four singers, sixteen instruments, live electronics and video, commissioned by Athelas Sinfonietta and Integra. As often happens in my music, it is a work rooted in earlier works, in this case Voi(rex), written in 2002, and Apocalypsis (2006). The main idea of Apocalypsis was to start from a finished piece - Voi(rex) - and to "stage" its compositional genesis through  the music. In  turn,  Extended Apocalypsis  projects Apocalypsis to its extreme limits  through expanded duration, amplified  compositional concepts and the inclusion  of the video realised by Jacob Schokking. The video element interacts deeply with  the overall compositional project. Apocalypsis could be seen as the living  genetic analysis of Voi(rex). The latter is the corpus from which Apocalypsis developed.The musical analysis focused on the different  compositional  stages of the first piece from a conceptual and formal perspective, but also in terms of the musical material and the  technological  tools  employed.   Voi(rex)  and Apocalypsis   were  part   of   a  joint IRCAM/CNRS research project on the analysis of the compositional process. Many elements of this research end up in Extended Apocalypsis.
The text, for example, was composed at the same time as the music, but comes from selected fragments  of  interviews  between the  composer and  researchers in  musicology  and anthropology.
 The text evokes in  a poetic form  the different  phases of the genesis of a musical work: the difficult beginnings, the relationship between noise and sound, the inner listening, the meaning,
the question of silence ... As in Voi(rex) and Apocalypsis, where the majority of the musical
events came from the calligraphic shape of the letters of the poems by Lin Delpierre, in Extended Apocalypsis the shape of the letters determines melodic profiles and the movements of the sounds.
The letters return constantly, at a structural, musical and even visual level: the position of the performers on stage describes the graphic shape of an "e".
Extended Apocalypsis is in seven movements and six intermezzi  based on the sonic landscape of the different places where the music was composed: Rome, Paris, Aulnay-sous- bois, Montreal, Heiligenstein, Bois-Aubry and London. During each intermezzo the baritone announces the name of the place and the date of composition.  These movements are all intersected by an inexorable upward pulse in the form of clicking sounds produced by the singers' tongues, evoking the wonder and interrogation  associated with  the act of creation. Through  reminiscences of  earlier  vocal works  Movement  I  explores the moment  when nothing  exists yet, when everything  is possible and the only tangible manifestation is the desire to create, inlaid  with  memories of pieces past. An unwavering  list of all the "ideas" noted  during  a first  phase of  work  on Voi(rex)  scrolls by  in  Movement  II,  but  unlike Apocalypsis, where each idea was expressed only once, the ear stops here on certain ideas that are repeated as "still shots". Movement Ill "stages" in music a recording session of the voices in the gongs, a selection of fragments of these recordings, their analysis and their treatment while  Movement IV presents musically  the classification of the chords and the sounds  obtained  through   the  recordings,  analysis  and  treatment  from   the previous movement. Movement V is the longest one, weaving in a formal braid the spatial trajectories of the sounds from Voi(rex) that become melodic movements, the changed ordering of the letters of Voi(rex) to generate a new literary meaning, the mutual imitations  among voices, instruments and electronics, the vertical application  of a nested form that in Voi(rex) was used only horizontally,  together with  the composition of what could have been the sixth, seventh and
eighth movements of Voi(Rex) but were abandoned at the time. Movement VI stages the rehearsal of the work by the performers, but also the perception of this rehearsal from the composer's perspective: how the composer discerns little by little the music that he has contributed to create. Movement VII is the shortest. It represents the abandonment of the work  by  the  composer.
After  being  heard  in  its  entirety  as a time-compressed audio recording, the first work  
Voi(rex) disappears very gradually  until  the pulse that represents its ultimate compression.The live electronics, developed in the IEM studios in Graz by Peter Plessas as part of the Integra project allow  the technical and semantic possibilities of both voices and instruments to be extended further. “
(Philippe Leroux)