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Pierre Henry, pioneer of electronic music, dies at 89

© Stéphane de Sakutin, AFP | The composer Pierre Henry in his studio in 2007.


Latest update : 2017-07-06

French electronic composer Pierre Henry -- whose music inspired the theme tune of the American animated television series "Futurama" -- has died at the age of 89, his assistant said Thursday.

Known as the "grandfather of techno", Henry's "Psyche Rock" riff was used in the Oscar-winning Costa-Gravas film "Z" (1969) and later remixed by British DJ Fat Boy Slim for the 2004 Lindsay Lohan film "Mean Girls".

French electronic music star Jean-Michel Jarre led the tributes to Henry, which he said had opened the way for his own music.

"He wasn't just a musician and an innovator, he was a poet. All his life he tried to bring about a fusion between experimentation and poetry," Jarre told AFP.

"He leaves behind an enormous and impressive body of work, and I hope France grants him the homage that he deserves."

Henry's assistant Isabelle Warnier said that the composer "died during the night. He would have celebrated his 90th birthday in December."

Never one to be unduly hamstrung by modesty, Henry liked to call himself "the father of modern music".

A pioneer of early electronic music made with all sorts of recorded sounds known as "concrete music", he studied at the Paris Conservatoire under one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Olivier Messiaen.

Two years after leaving he formed the GRMC, the Research Group into Concrete Music, with the sound engineer, composer and writer Pierre Schaeffer.

Jarre said the group had been a huge influence on him.

"With Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry gave me the inspiration at the end of the 1960s to set out on my own path," he added.

The jointly composed "Symphonie pour un homme seul" ("Symphony for a lone man") of 1950 is regarded as the first major work of the "concrete music" genre.

The choreographer Maurice Bejart took up the piece for his 1966 dance piece of the same name.

Paris-born Henry's work was also later used by other legendary choreographers including George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham.

But it remains for the bells and static of his three-minute "Psyche Rock" that he is best known.

Taken from his 1967 dance piece "Messe pour le temps present" ("Mass For The Present Time"), it became a catchy worldwide jingle after it was reworked for Matt Groening's sci-fi sitcom set in the 31st century.


Date created : 2017-07-06


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