Born in 1943 in Lyon. Strongly influenced by the French avant-garde of the 1960s, he cooperated with L’Itinéraire (1975–81) and in 1977, founded the Collectif de Recherche Instrumentale et de Synthèse Sonore (CRISS) with Alain Bancquart and Tristan Murail. Specialist in Philosophy in 1967, he has published numerous texts. He was a researcher (1973–85) and director of research at the CNRS (1985–2009), and in 1982 created the Unité Mixte de Recherche “Recherche Musicale” that he directed until 1995. He has received many awards, in particular the Académie Charles Cros Presidential Prize for his entire oeuvre.
Hugues Dufourt favours slow transformations of a seldom-interrupted musical discourse. He conceives forms through the evolution of masses and focuses on the concept of thresholds, oscillations, interference, and directional procedures. A pioneer of the spectral movement, however, he gives it a more encompassing definition, attempting to highlight the instability that timbre introduces into orchestration. His music is based on a wealth of sonic constellations and harmonics, and relies on dialectics of timbre and of time. He draws part of his inspiration from pictorial art, essentially retaining the role of colour, mediums, and light. Lately, Hugues Dufourt has composed works with different instrumentations, from solo piano (Tombeau de Debussy, premiered at Festival Musica 2018) to large orchestra (Ur-Geräusch, premiered in 2016 by the WDR Orchestra) but also string quartet (Le Supplice de Marsyas d’après Titien, for Arditti Quartet) or percussion (Burning Bright, premiered by Les Percussions de Strasbourg at Festival Musica 2014).
Selected works (since 2005): L’Afrique d’après Tiepolo for piano and ensemble (2005), Soleil de proie for two pianos (2005), Erlkönig for piano (2006), Au plus haut faîte de l’instant for oboe and orchestra (2006), Dawn Flight, string quartet (2008), Duel à coups de gourdin for flute (2008), Les Chardons d’après Van Gogh for viola and chamber orchestra (2009), L’Asie d’après Tiepolo for ensemble (2009), Voyage par-delà les euves et les monts for orchestra (2010), La Sieste du lettré for flute, piano and vibraphone (2010), L’Essence intime des choses for mezzo-soprano and piano (2010), Uneasiness, string quartet (2010), L’Europe d’après Tiepolo for ensemble (2011), Vent d’automne for piano (2011), On the wings of the morning for piano and orchestra (2012), Burning Bright for six percussion (2014), La Fontaine de Cuivre d’après Chardin for piano (2014), L’Éclair d’après Rimbaud for two pianos and two percussion (2014), Arrête de frapper / Double trouble for soprano and clarinet (2014), These livid ames for organ (2014), Ombre portée for cello (2015), Reine Spannung for piano (2015), Le Mani del violinista d’après Giacomo Balla for violin and orchestra (2015), Le Passage du Styx d’après Patinir for large orchestra (2015), Ur-Geräusch for large orchestra (2016), L’Amérique d’après Tiepolo for piano and ensemble (2016), Les courants polyphoniques for four saxophones (2019), Le Supplice de Marsyas d’après Titien, string quartet (2019), Tombeau de Debussy for piano (2019), L’Atelier rouge d’après Matisse for baritone saxophone, electric guitar, piano and percussion (2020).