Born in 1935 in Clermont-Ferrand, he studied music with Émile Passani and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, winning a prize in music philosophy in 1960. He was a founder member of Pierre Schaeffer’s Groupe de Recherches Musicales (1958–63). He also studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (1955–59), graduating in Greek archaeology (1957) and literature (1958). He obtained a PhD in musicology in 1980.
Guest composer and teacher in numerous countries, he is also the author of many theoretical articles and works including Les mal entendus (La Revue Musicale, 1978), Music, Myth, and Nature (Gordon & Breach, 1992), Varèse, vingt ans après (La Revue Musicale, 1985), Entre l’observatoire et l’atelier (Kimé, 1998). His accolades include the Paris Biennale Award (1963), SACEM’s Georges Enesco Award (1964), Prix Italia (1977), Prix Chartier of the Académie des Beaux Arts (1984), Grand Prix National de la Musique, and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (1990).
François-Bernard Mâche has developed an individual theory and method of composition, based on ideas of model and archetype, ideas that he has applied to many of his 70+ works. He is Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
Selected works (since 1990): Trois chants sacrés: Muwatalli, Rasna et Maponos for mezzo-soprano and electronics (1990), L’Annonce faite à Marie for tape (1990), Khnoum for sampler and five percussionists (1990), Guntur Sari for organ (1990), Guntur Madu for harpsichord (1990), Kengir. Cinq chants d’amour sumériens for mezzo-soprano and sampler (1991), Athanor for ensemble (1991), L’Estuaire du temps for sampler and orchestra (1993), Hiérogamie for piccolo and percussion (1993), Planh. In memoriam Witold Lutosławski for string orchestra (1994), Moires for string quartet and synthetic sounds (1994),Braises for amplified harpsichord and orchestra (1994), Ziggurat for harpsichord (1996), Ugarit for guitar (1998), Manuel de résurrection for mezzo-soprano, two samplers and MIDI keyboards (1998), Cassiopée II for mixed choir, narrator and two percussionists (1998), Brûlis for clarinet, cello and piano (1999), Portrait for tape (2000), Vectigal libens for six percussionists (2001), Melanga for female voice, sampler and slendro gamelan (2001), Les douze Lunes du serpent for 12 percussionists and tape (2001), Kurunta for mezzo-soprano, darbuka and tenor recorder (2001), Achéron for piano and percussion (2002), La Terza Prattica. Trois interludes d’après Monteverdi for harpsichord (2003), Heol dall for vocal ensemble and two pianos (2003), Canopée for two samplers and string orchestra (2003), Chikop for soprano, ensemble and recorded sounds (2004), Taranis for narrator, choir and orchestra (2005), Medusa for piano (2005), Perseus for soprano, harpsichord, percussion and string ensemble (2007), Manuel de conversation for clarinet and electronics (2007), Les Arcadiennes. Hommage à Couperin for piano (2007), Artémis for organ and recorded sounds (2008), Thémis for harpsichord and recorded sounds (2009), Sèma, electroacoustic work (2009), Résurgence for string ensemble (2009), Râgamalika for piano and viola / cello (2009), Le promeneur solitaire. Autoportrait électroacoustique, electroacoustic work (2010), Largando for 12–24 mixed voices and horn (2012), Le Partage des flots, electroacoustic work (2012), Reflets for soprano, clarinet and electronics (2012), Pluie for one or two pianos (2013), Qaraqorum, musical tale for male voice, string quartet and electronics (2013).