Georges Aperghis

Georges Aperghis was born in Athens, Greece, on 23 December 1945. His father Achilles, a sculptor, and his mother Irene, a painter, gave him a rich artistic background in post-war Greece and allowed him great freedom, providing the basis for what has become a highly original, independent career as a composer.

Mainly self-taught, Aperghis divided his interest between painting and music, which he discovered through radio and the occasional piano lesson from a family friend. In Athens, he knew little about the European avant-garde but he read scores from the repertoire and heard some Schoenberg, Bartók and Stravinsky. The first experiments in musique concrete by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry came as a revelation. By 1963, he had decided to give up painting and settled in Paris to continue studying music. There, he discovered the world of new music through the Domaine Musical and concerts at the Maison de la Radio.

His earliest works; “Antistixis”, for three string quartets, “Anakroussis” for seven instruments (1967) and “Bis” for two orchestras (1968) show the influence both of serialism and of Xenakis’s research. He himself described these pieces as studies; pursuing a need to develop a freer, more personal language, he gravitated towards the work of John Cage and Mauricio Kagel and towards the theatre, which he discovered through his wife, the actress Edith Scob.

In 1971, Aperghis composed “La tragique histoire du nécromancien Hieronimo et de son miroir”, for two women's voices, speaking and singing, lute and cello. It was his first attempt at music theatre, demonstrating a fascination with the relationship between music, words and the stage, which he continues to explore today. For the Avignon Festival, he composed “La tragique histoire …” (1971), “Vesper” (1972), “Pandaemonium” (1973), and his opera “Histoire de loups” (1976).

Since 1976, he has divided his time between three central passions. After founding the Atelier Théâtre et Musique (ATEM), based in Bagnolet for 15 years, now in Nanterre, he completely changed his approach to composition. He began creating performances that used both actors and musicians; he based works; created gradually in the rehearsal process; on everyday events transported to a poetic, often absurd and satirical world. He treated voice, instrument, movement, text and staging equally, eschewing standard theatrical and orchestral hierarchies. After “La bouteille à la mer” in 1976, he worked with the ATEM on some 20 productions, among them “Conversations” (1985), “Énuméerations” (1988), “Jojo” (1990), “H” (1992), “Sextuor” (1993) and “Commentaires” (1996).

As of February 2015

Georges Aperghis

© Xavier Lambours

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