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An introduction to the music of André Jolivet

From his earliest youth André Jolivet regarded his music as a strong affirmation of
non-conformism "It’s an attitude I’ve held to, come what may, one 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 which I am aware of and which I see are
going to emerge" (André Jolivet, 1993).

It has to be said that throughout his life Jolivet remained faithful to this belief,
which is clearly borne out in the wide range of his output, comprising more than 200
works. Another firmly-held belief of his, from the time of Mana (1935) to La
Flèche du temps
(1974), 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. He wanted to combine humanism and

To this end he took on board all musical genres, from works for solo instrument to
opera (even though Bolgomilé ou le Lieutenant Perdu remained sadly incomplete),
encompassing all possible combinations of chamber music, song, concerto, symphony,
cantata, oratorio, dramatic music and music for commercial purposes… One could
equally 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, from electronic instruments, but
there was always the same concern to elevate the music and to grant it a universal
dimension In this sense his œuvre remains a powerful testimony in the history of 20th-century
French music.

Lucie Kayas

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