Bernard Parmegiani

Bernard Parmegiani (1927-2013) was a French composer of electro-acoustic music.

Between 1957 and 1961 he studied pantomime with Jacques Lecoq in Paris, a period which he later considered as important to his work as a composer. He joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in 1959 for a two-year master class, shortly after its founding by Pierre Schaeffer. After studying at Lecoq, he was first a sound engineer and was later put in charge of the Music/Image unit for French television (ORTF). There he worked in the studio with several well-known composers, for example with Iannis Xenakis.

During his time at ORTF Parmegiani produced music for numerous directors including Jacques Baratier and Peter Kassovitz. He also wrote a number of jingles for French media, including the five-second futuristic melody “Indicatif Roissy” that preceded every pa announcement at Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris from 1974 till 2005.

Parmegiani composed his first major work, “Violostries” for violin and tape in 1964 for a choreography performed for Théâtre Contemporain d’Amiens directed by Jacques-Albert Cartier. During a visit to America in the late 1960s, Parmegiani researched the link between music and video and on his return produced several musical videos, including “L'Œil écoute”, and “L’Écran transparent” (1973) during a residency at Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Germany. In the 1970s he was also involved in live jazz performances and performed with the “Third Ear Band” in London.

At this time Parmegiani also started writing acousmatic pieces for performance in the concert hall: examples are “Capture éphémère” of 1967 which deals with the passage of time, and “L'Enfer” (1972), a collaboration with the composer François Bayle, based on Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Parmegiani composed the music for Walerian Borowczyk’s films “Jeux des Anges” (1964) and “Docteur Jekyll et les femmes” (1981). The soundtrack for the latter comprising cues Parmegiani re-arranged from his 1972 work “Pour en finir avec le pouvoir d’Orphée”.

In 1992 Parmegiani left the GRM and opened his own studio in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. In April 2010, he was a member of the jury for the sixth Qwartz Electronic Music Awards, a promotional project and a support group for electronic music artists.

Parmegiani has been cited as a major influence by younger experimenters such as Aphex Twin, Autechre and Sonic Youth. His works were performed at the All Tomorrow's Parties festivals in 2003 and 2008.

As of January 2020

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