Henri Dutilleux (1916–2013)

French composer Henri Dutilleux has passed away at the age of ninety-seven. David Ng of the Los Angeles Times writes that Dutilleux’s style, singular voice, and iconoclastic tendencies were part of what caused him to be one the most significant composers of the twentieth century. Critics often compare his music to Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Bela Bartok. Duttileux was not a prolific writer and left the world with a modest output. Ng writes that on a rare trip to Los Angeles in 1989 to attend a premier of one of his symphonies, the composer commented on this: “Surely I regret it. It's a problem of temperament.”

Roger Nichols of The Guardian notes that Duttileux thought of composition as a quasi-sacred occupation—often alluding to magic—and “uttered hard words about composers who spent more time in front of television cameras then in front of their manuscript paper.” Discussing a 1978 composition, Dutilleux quoted Van Gogh’s letter to his brother: “I have terrible need for religion. So I go outside at night to paint the stars.”