Born in Angers on 22 January 1916, Henri Dutilleux grew up in Douai, studying piano, harmony and counterpoint at the conservatoire there with Victor Gallois, before moving to Paris in 1933. At the Paris Conservatoire he studied with the Gallon brothers, as well as with Maurice Emmanuel and Henri Büsser, winning the Prix de Rome in 1938 with the cantata L’anneau du roi. Returning to France at the outbreak of war, he worked at the Paris Opéra; then, in 1945, began an 18-year tenure as director of music productions at Radio France. From 1963 he devoted himself to composition, while being in demand as a guest teacher in France and at summer schools abroad. He died in Paris on 22 May 2013.
Although he has long been acknowledged as among the leading figures of his generation, Dutilleux’s reputation rests on little more than a dozen major works, the result of an approach to composition which is as painstaking as it is methodical. His early works include a number of scores for theatre and radio productions (mostly withdrawn), as well as several songs and also test-pieces for the wind categories of the Paris Conservatoire.