Born in Athens in 1945, he has lived and worked in Paris since 1963. His work is notably characterised by asking questions about languages and meaning. His compositions, whether instrumental, vocal, or for the stage, explore the boundaries of the intelligible. He likes to create twisted tracks, which allows him to keep the listener active: stories emerge but are suddenly refuted.
His music is not strictly linked to any dominant contemporary musical aesthetics but follows the twentieth century through a dialogue with other forms of art and an extreme openness to various intellectual, scientific, and social fields.
This otherness is combined with innovations when he includes electronics, video, machines, and automata or robots in his performances. He works closely with a group of performers who are entirely part of the creative process: actors Edith Scob, Michael Lonsdale, Valérie Dréville, Jos Houben; instrumentalists JeanPierre Drouet, Richard Dubelski, Geneviève Strosser, Nicolas Hodges, Uli Fussenegger; vocalists Martine Viard, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, and Lionel Peintre. Since the 1990s he has formed new artistic collaborations with dancers Johanne Saunier, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, and visual artists Daniel Lévy, Kurt D’Haeseleer, and Hans Op de Beeck. Major European contemporary music ensembles including Ictus, Klangforum Wien, Remix, Musikfabrik, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Vocalsolisten, and the SWR Choir have developed a working relationship with Aperghis through commissions that have become part of their repertoires.
Georges Aperghis received the Mauricio Kagel Prize in 2011, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Music Biennale in 2015, and the Frontiers of Knowledge BBVA Foundation Award in 2016 for contemporary music.
His self-published music is available for free download from the website aperghis.com (developed by Francine Lajournade / Didascalia). His other pieces have been published by Éditions Durand (Universal Music Publishing Classical): www.durand-salabert-eschig.com.
Selected works (from 2000): La nuit en tête for soprano and instrumental sextet (2000), Machinationsfor four female voices, electronics and video projection (2000), Le petit chaperon rouge for children and six instruments after Charles Perrault (2001), Quatorze jactations for baritone (2001), Petrrohl for six voices (2001), I. X. for violin (2001–2), Print Music for piano (2002), Dark Side, monodrama for mezzo-soprano and 18 musicians based on Aeschylus’s Oresteia translated by François Regnault (2002), Paysage sous surveillance for two actors, two clarinets, two cellos and two synthesizers to words by Heiner Müller (2002), Le reste du temps for cello, dulcimer and ensemble (2003), Alter-Face for two pianos (2004), Avis de tempête, opera to a libretto by the composer after Peter Szendy, Melville, Kafka and Hugo (2004), Wölfi-Kantata for six soloists and mixed choir to texts by Adolf Wölfi (2005), Contre temps for soprano and ensemble (2006), Bloody Luna for cello and ensemble (2007), Happy End for ensemble, electronics and animated film by Hans Op de Beeck after Charles Perrault (2007), Teeter-Totter for ensemble (2008), See Saw for ensemble (2008), Quartet Movement for quartet (2009), P.S. for saxophone (2010), Les Boulingrin, opera bu a after Georges Courteline (2010), Luna Park, stage work for four performers to a libretto by Georges Aperghis and François Regnault (2011) Études pour orchestre (2012–15),Le soldat inconnu for baritone and ensemble (2013), Retrouvailles for two percussion (2013), Wild Romance for soprano and ensemble (2013), Pubs – Reklamen for soprano (2000–15), Concerto for accordion (2015), Intermezzi for ensemble (2015–16), Passwords for six singers (2016), Migrants for two female voices and ensemble (2016–17), Thinking Things, show for four performers, robotic extensions, video, lights, and electronics (2018), Obstinatefor double bass (2018), Der Lauf des Lebens for 23 musicians and six singers (2018), The Messenger for zarb (2019).