François-Bernard Mâche

(b. 4 April 1935, Clermont-Ferrand).

French composer of mostly orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and electroacoustic works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a writer.

Mr. Mâche was born into a family of musicians and began composing at age eight. He studied harmony with Émile Passani at the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional Emmanuel-Chabrier in Clermont-Ferrand and graduated with prizes in piano in 1951 and harmony in 1952. He later studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where he earned the Prix de Philosophie de la Musique in 1960. He also studied classical literature at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris from 1955–59 and there earned a diploma in archaeology from Greece in 1957 and the teaching certificate Agrégation de lettres classiques in 1958. He then took classes in ancient art at the Université Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV in 1959 and later studied in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand in 1972. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens in 2011.

Among his honours are the Prix de la Biennale de Paris (1963, for Safous Mélè, Op. 5), the Grand Prix du Disque from the Académie Charles-Cros (1971, for a recording of Danaé, Op. 21), the Prix Georges Enesco from SACEM (1973), the Prix Italia (1977), the Prix Chartier from the Académie des Beaux-Arts (1984), the Grand Prix National de la Musique from the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication of France (1988), the Prix Rossini from the Académie des Beaux-Arts (1998), and the Grand Prix de la Musique Symphonique from SACEM (2002). He has been a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts since 2002. In addition, he was named a Docteur d'État ès Lettres et Sciences Humaines in 1980 and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1990, both by the government of France. More than 40 portrait concerts have been given in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

As a writer, he served as music critic of the magazine La Nouvelle Revue française from 1969–78. He has written more than 100 articles, mainly on musicological subjects, as well as the book Musique, mythe, nature ou les dauphins d'Arion (1983, Klincksieck; second edition, 1991; Italian translation as Musica, mito, natura, 1992, Cappelli Editore; English translation as Music, Myth, Nature, 1993, Harwood Academic Publishers), the collection of his articles Entre l'observatoire et l'atelier (1998, Éditions Kimé), the book Un Demi-Siècle de Musique (2000, Éditions L'Harmattan), the book Musique au singulier (2001, Éditions Odile Jacob), and the retrospective Cent opus et leurs échos (2012, Éditions L'Harmattan). Moreover, he has made French translations of modern poems from Greece, including works by Odysseas Elytis, and served as editor of the books Music, Society and Imagination in Contemporary France (1993, Harwood Academic Publishers) and Portrait(s) de Xenakis (2002, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).

He is also active in other positions. He produced experimental films for RTF in 1958 and was a member of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris from 1958–63, during which time he served as a second lieutenant in Algeria from 1960–62. He worked at the studio for electronic music in Gravesano in 1965 and in Warsaw in 1966. He produced a broadcast series for France Musique in 1976 and served as president of the section in France of ISCM from the late 1970s–early 1980s.

He taught literature at the Collège Sévigné in Paris in 1959–60, the Lycée Marceau in Chartres in 1962–63 and the Lycée Pasteur in Neuilly-sur-Seine from 1963–68. He taught at Middlebury College in Vermont and Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, both in 1968, and taught classical literature from Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and France at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris from 1968–83. He then taught musicology at the Université de Strasbourg from 1983–93, where he founded the Centre Primus in 1987, and served as director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris from 1993–97. He has given lectures in 25 countries.

His primary publisher is Éditions Durand-Salabert-Eschig, though recent works are unpublished.


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Coïncidences (dance music, choreography by Francine Lancelot, instruments by Bernard Baschet, François Baschet), 1966

Canzone V, voice, 3 double basses, theatrical set, Op. 19, 1969

Da capo (spectacle), 10 actors, 3 mediaeval players, positive organ, 2 percussion, sound décor, fixed media, Op. 32, 1976

Rituel pour 'Les Mangeurs d'Ombre' (spectacle, production by Pierre Barrat), 12 mixed voices (all + percussion), percussion, Op. 37, 1979 (incorporates Danaé, Op. 21)

Temboctou (spectacle), 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, 3 baritones, bass, 2 mediaeval players, clarinet, 2 trombones, guitar, sampler, percussion, fixed media, Op. 47, 1982

Qaraqorum (récit musical), male speaker, string quartet, fixed media, Op. 105, 2013


La Peau du silence I (players move around stage), small orchestra (7 winds, 2 pianos, 4 percussion, 17 strings), Op. 7a, 1962 (also shorter versions as La Peau du silence II [players move around stage], large orchestra [110 players], Op. 7b, 1966; La Peau du silence III [players move around stage], large orchestra [82 players], Op. 7c, 1970)

Synergies, small orchestra (21 players), fixed media (2/5 tracks), Op. 8, 1963

Le Son d'une voix, small orchestra (15 players), Op. 11, 1964

Rituel d'oubli, small orchestra (2 flutes, 2 E-flat clarinets, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone, 3 percussion), fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 17, 1968

Répliques, birdcalls (played by each member of the audience), orchestra (12 winds, 3 percussion, 31 strings), Op. 18, 1969

Rambaramb, piano, large orchestra (85 players), fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 23, 1972

Le Jonc à trois glumes, Op. 28, 1974

L'Estuaire du temps, sampler, large orchestra (88 players), Op. 71, 1993

Planh (in memoriam Witold Lutosławski), 26 or more strings, Op. 72, 1994

Braises (concerto), amplified harpsichord, small orchestra (27 players), Op. 74, 1994

Résurgence, 12/48 strings, Op. 97, 2009


Duo, violin, piano, Op. 1, 1956

Canzone I, French horn, trumpet, cornet/trumpet, trombone, tuba, Op. 2a, 1957 (also longer version, Op. 2b, 1960, incorporated into film Conte; also version as Canzone II, French horn, trumpet, cornet/trumpet, trombone, tuba, Op. 9, 1963)

Volumes, 7 trombones, 2 pianos, 2 percussion, fixed media (2/4/12 tracks), Op. 6, 1960 (also version for 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 2 pianos, 2 percussion, fixed media [2/4/12 tracks], 1960)

Canzone III, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones, Op. 15, 1967

Kemit, tombak (goblet drum from Iran)/darabukka (goblet drum from the Middle East), Op. 20, 1970

Temes Nevinbür, 2 pianos, 2 percussion, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 26, 1973

Naluan, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion/2 percussion, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 27, 1974

Maraé, 6 amplified percussion, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 29, 1974

Solstice, positive organ/fixed media, harpsichord, Op. 30, 1975

Kassandra, 2 oboes (2nd + English horn), clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, trumpet, 2 trombones, 2 pianos, 3 percussion, fixed media, Op. 33, 1977

Octuor, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, Op. 35, 1977

Aera, 6 percussion, Op. 36, 1978

Amorgos, 2 bassoons, 2 trombones, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, 2 percussion (any one + electronic organ), fixed media, Op. 38, 1979

Toïn Theoïn, 2 clarinets, Op. 39, 1979

Sopiana, flute, piano, fixed media ad libitum, Op. 41, 1980

Anaphores, harpsichord, percussion, Op. 45, 1982

Phénix, vibraphone (+ 9 tom-toms), Op. 48, 1982

Aulodie, oboe/E-flat clarinet/soprano saxophone, fixed media, Op. 49, 1983

Iter memor, cello, sampler, Op. 53, 1985

Uncas, 2 samplers, ensemble (flute, clarinet, trombone, 2 violins, viola, cello), fixed media, Op. 56, 1986

Éridan, string quartet, Op. 57, 1986

Tempora, 3 samplers, Op. 60, 1988

Figures, bass clarinet, vibraphone, Op. 63, 1989

Khnoum, sampler, 5 percussion, Op. 65, 1990

Athanor, flute, oboe, clarinet, 2 samplers, 2 violins, viola, 2 cellos, Op. 69, 1991

Hiérogamie, piccolo, percussion, Op. 70, 1993

Moires, string quartet, fixed media, Op. 73, 1994

Ugarit, guitar, Op. 77, 1998

Brûlis, clarinet, cello, piano, Op. 79, 1999

Vectigal libens, sampler, 5 percussion, Op. 81, 2000

Les 12 Lunes du Serpent, Op. 82, 2001 (its two sections may be performed separately: Le Printemps du Serpent, 12 percussion [any 2 + piano], fixed media, Op. 82a; L'Automne du Serpent, 12 percussion [any 2 + piano], Op. 82b)

Achéron, piano, percussion, Op. 85, 2002

Canopée, 2 samplers, 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass, Op. 87, 2003

Manuel de conversation, clarinet, computer/fixed media, Op. 93, 2007

Râgamalika, viola/cello, piano, Op. 98, 2009


Safous Mélè (cantata), alto, 8 female voices, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, harp, 4 percussion, Op. 5, 1959

Canzone IV, 5 mixed voices, Op. 16, 1968

Danaé, 12 mixed voices (all + percussion), percussion, Op. 21, 1970 (also incorporated into Rituel pour 'Les Mangeurs d'Ombre', Op. 37)

Andromède, 12 mixed voices, 60 mixed voices, 3 pianos, large orchestra (88 players), Op. 40, 1979

Cassiopée I, 4 mixed voices, 2 percussion, Op. 61, 1988

Cassiopée II, mixed chorus, 2 percussion, Op. 76, 1998

Heol Dall, 12 mixed voices, 2 pianos, Op. 88, 2003

Taranis (text by the composer), mixed chorus, large orchestra, Op. 91, 2005

Largando, 12–24 mixed voices, French horn, Op. 101, 2012


Nuit blanche (text by Antonin Artaud), male speaker, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 14, 1966 (also version as Nuit, fixed media [2 tracks], Op. 24)

Aliunde, soprano, clarinet (+ contrabass clarinet), sampler, tablā (+ percussion), Op. 59, 1988

Trois Chants Sacrés, Op. 51, 1982–90 (its three sections may be performed separately: Muwatalli [text from an ancient source of the Hittites], mezzo-soprano/baritone [+ 3 metal plates], Op. 51a, 1984; Rasna [text from an ancient source of the Etruscans], mezzo-soprano, Op. 51b, 1982; Maponos [texts from ancient sources of the Gauls], female voice [+ low tambourine], Op. 51c, 1990)

Kengir, chants d'amour sumériens, mezzo-soprano, sampler, Op. 68, 1991 (its five sections may be performed separately: Inanna, Op. 68a; Enlil, Op. 68b; Shusin, Op. 68c; Kubatum, Op. 68d; Dumuzi, Op. 68e)

Manuel de résurrection, mezzo-soprano, 2 samplers, Op. 75, 1998

Kurunta, mezzo-soprano, tenor recorder, darabukka, Op. 83, 2001

Melanga, female voice, sampler, gamelan (tuned in slendro), Op. 84, 2001

Chikop, soprano, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano, percussion, Op. 89, 2004

Perseus, soprano, small orchestra (harpsichord, percussion, 7 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass), Op. 94, 2007

Reflets, soprano, clarinet, fixed media, Op. 103, 2012


Areg, piano 4 hands, Op. 34, 1977

Nocturne, piano, fixed media ad libitum, Op. 44, 1981

Styx, 2 pianos 8 hands, Op. 50, 1984

Léthé, 2 pianos 8 hands, Op. 52, 1985

Mesarthim, 2 pianos, Op. 58, 1987

Medusa, Op. 90, 2005

Les Arcadiennes, Op. 92, 2007

Pluie, piano/2 pianos, Op. 104, 2013


Guntur Sari, Op. 66, 1990

Artémis, organ, fixed media, Op. 95, 2008


Korwar, harpsichord, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 25, 1972

Guntur Madu, Op. 64, 1990

Ziggurat, Op. 78, 1998

La Terza Prattica (trois interludes d'après Monteverdi), Op. 86, 2003

Thémis, harpsichord, fixed media, Op. 96, 2009


Prélude, fixed media (3 tracks), Op. 3, 1959

Lanterne magique, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 4, 1959

Terre de Feu, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 10, 1963

Soleil rugueux, fixed media (2/4 tracks), Op. 13, 1965

Nuit, fixed media (2 tracks), Op. 24, 1971 (version of Nuit blanche, Op. 14)

4 Phonographies de l'eau, fixed media, Op. 42, 1980 (its sections may be performed separately: Regmin, Op. 42a; Ianassa, Op. 42b; Proteus, Op. 42c; Speïô, Op. 42d)

Hypérion, fixed media, Op. 43, 1981

La Traversée de l'Afrique, fixed media, Op. 54, 1985

Tithon, fixed media, Op. 62, 1989

Portrait, fixed media, Op. 80, 2000

Sèma (à la mémoire de Daniel Charles), fixed media, Op. 99, 2009

Le Promeneur solitaire, fixed media, Op. 100, 2010

Le Partage des flots, fixed media, Op. 102, 2012


Conte, 1960 (Piotr Kamler; incorporates Canzone I, Op. 2b)

L'Annonce faite à Marie, Op. 67, 1991 (Alain Cuny)


Autonomie, 2 harps/piano 4 hands/marimba 4 hands/2 marimbas, Op. 46, 1982