Stephen O’Malley

RIP Bernard Parmegiani (1927-2013)

Posted: Nov 22, 2013

RIP Bernard Parmegiani (1927-2013)
RIP Bernard Parmegiani (1927-2013)
RIP Bernard Parmegiani (1927-2013)

Sad news today from the friends at GRM, Paris. Mr. Parmegiani passed away last night. RIP.


Raised amidst two pianos, Bernard Parmegiani grew up under the Sign of Sound, listening to the everyday scales practised by his mother, a teacher, and to the virtuoso repertoire of his step-father. He was taken on as a sound man first on the radio and later on TV, which is where he conducted his first experiments with " bit twiddling" on tape. During this time he was also studying mime with Marcel Decroux and later at Jacques Lecoq's theatre school, which gave him an awareness of the plasticity of space, a lesson that he would draw on in his later compositions and in the architecture of his sound universe.  Then he met Pierre Schaeffer who encouraged him to attend a training course in electro-acoustic music ( 1959) and shortly after he joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales ( 1960), of which he was to remain a full member right up until 1992. Pierre Schaeffer put Bernard Parmegiani in charge of the Music/Image unit of the ORTF's Resear'ch Departement, where he went on the compose the music for both full-length and short films made by the likes of Robert Lapoujade, Peter Foldés, Piotr Kamler, Valerian Borowczyck, Pierre Kast, 1acques Baratier et Peter Kassovitz amongst others. The proved to be a first class training ground for learning how to deal with the problems of musical form as these relate to time, and how to overcome the constraints imposed by the medium of the cinema. It was here that he learned to exercise his freedom of creation, albeit within the framework of having to respect the time for which an image was displayed on the screen and having to reflect the contents of films of which he was not the author. He also wrote the music for several jingles ( for France Inter and Roissy Airport and so ...) and others advertisements, as well as songs and music written for television, the ballet.or the theater All of this was good practice, and it later encouraged him to create pieces of music that, when the sound was heard within the context of the stage setting would become the occasion for the humorous or dramatic game. In 1964, he composed Violostries , his first work for the concert hall ( music for tape and violin), first performed at the Royan Festival by the violonist Devy Erlih. There then followed 40 years of uninterrumpted research and musical creations built out of an ongoing fight that led him to regard bodies of sound as living bodies. He took a keen interest in those areas in which the improvisation techniques used by jazz musicians mett with electro-acoustic music, working with Jean- Louis Chautemps and Bernad Vitet along the way: Jazze; xtoday, Parmegiani's own output, primarily made up of sounds recordes on tape, includes moore than 70 pieces of concert..  His long association and familiarity with the moving image led to his developing a keen interest in video art and he made three music videos : L'œil Ecoute ( 1973), l'Ecran transparent et Jeux d'artifice ( 1979). Except some mixed pièces, his work as a whole take the form of music for « fixed sound », coming within the scope of the large repertoire of electro-acoustic music. Among the catalogue of works by Bernard Parmegiani works for concert) , some of the titles testify more particularly to his musical path : Violostries (1965), Capture éphémère (1968), l'Enfer,  after  The Divine Comedy from Dante (1972), Pour en finir avec le pouvoir  d'Orphée (1971-1972), De natura sonorum (1974-1975), La création du monde (1982-1984) , cycle Plain temps ( 1991-1993), Sonare (1996), La Mémoire des sons (2000-2001), Espèces d'espace (2002-2003) Au gré du souffle s'envole le son ( 2006) :::: En 1960 Bernard Parmegiani, alors Ingénieur du son à la Télévision française, rencontre Pierre Schaeffer qui peu de temps après lui propose la même fonction au Groupe de Recherches Musicales.  Il y assiste alors Y. Xenakis, L. Ferrari, F.B. Mâche. 

P. Schaeffer l’incite alors à suivre le stage durant trois années à la suite desquelles il sera accepté comme « Chargé de Recherches ».
Par ailleurs, P. Schaeffer lui confie la réalisation d’une musique de film, ce qui lui permettra d’expérimenter certains procédés de composition.
Il devient alors responsable du secteur des Musiques d’Application.

En 1962, il participe au «Concert collectif qui allait ainsi réunir 11 Compositeurs du GRM. Ce concert eut lieu en Mars 1962. Devy Erlih, violoniste, ayant assisté à ce concert lui propose la composition d’une pièce dite « mixte » : violon   bande. Ce fût «Violostries » créée en 1964.

Ce fut aussi le réel point de départ de sa carrière qui réunit 78 opus auxquels s’ajouteront 27 musiques de films, 14 musiques pour chorégraphies, 12 musiques de scène, 12 Indicatifs Radio, 33 musiques pour la Télévision films/émissions dramatiques/documentaires, Sonal: Aéroport-Roissy, Musée Grévin : Palais des mirages, Mimes : « La cage de verre » film de Delouche avec M.Marceau, Gilles Ségal, Jacques Lecoq dont B.P. fût l’élève durant 3 ans (1957-60).

Il quitte le GRM en 1992 et crée son propre studio « Fabriquasons » 

Récompenses reçues

Grand Prix du disque 1979
Grand Prix des Compositeurs de la SACEM 1981 — 5ème Victoires de la musique 1989
Prix Magisterium Concours International de Bourges 1991
Chevalier de l’ordre du mérite 1991
Prix « Golden Nica » de Ars Electronica de LINZ 1993
« Coup de Coeur» Académie Charles Cros pour Portrait Polychrome CDMC/INA GRM 2003
Prix du Président de la République de l’Académie Charles Cros pour le coffret CD comportant une grande partie de son oeuvre 2008. video: Bernard Parmegiani "L'Ecran transparent/The Transparent Screen" (1973)