Tant que durera l’automne”: Text-music relationships in Correspondances by Henri Dutilleux


  • Troy Ducharme Western University


The reputation of French composer Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) rests primarily on his orchestral works, produced regularly throughout his mature career. By contrast, his output of vocal works reveals an interesting gap: having won the Prix de Rome in 1938 for his student cantata, L’anneau du Roi and composing small vocal works at intervals until approximately 1967, he would produce no more vocal music from this time until 1997. After a gap of 30 years, his last decade-and-a-half of compositional activity contained a disproportionate amount of vocal writing, beginning modestly with the incorporation of children’s voices in the primarily orchestral work, The Shadows of Time (1997), and continuing with two substantial works for soprano and orchestra: Correspondances (2003) and Le temps l’horloge (2007-2009).
This study looks at elements of voice-leading, harmony, motive and musical structure in Correspondances, with specific concern for how these inform and are informed by the texts. For example, the first movement begins with a chord built out of a cycle of perfect fifths/fourths and comprising a 1#-diatonic collection, perhaps representing the gong of the title. The vocal line is
initially limited to the pitches D, E and F#, present in the double bass harmonics of the first chord. But as the text suggests the possibility of a sound which is not measurable by the ear, so the melodic line stretches, at the word ‘mesurable,’ to G#, transcending the initial harmonic context and establishing a new one: the whole-tone collection implied by the first four vocal pitch-classes will control the remainder of the vocal line in this movement and determine many elements of the harmonic progression, including extensions and transpositions of the initial interval-cycle. Similar processes will be explored in the other movements, as well as textual and musical connections among movements, with the goal of exposing elements of style and technique in the late works of Dutilleux and musical meanings within this important late work.

Author Biography

Troy Ducharme, Western University

Troy Ducharme (D.Mus.) composes music for all manner of instrumental and vocal ensembles and for electronics. His style and technique encompass many forms of serialism, chromatic tonality, Renaissance and Baroque counterpoint, and timbral composition. Adapting his technique to each new piece, the result is a varied repertoire, from the Romantic pathos of the Brass Sextet to the static atmospheres of Movement in Time and the tightly-controlled Five Bagatelles for Flute and Piano.

Troy’s varied compositional interests have resulted in a wide range of teaching specialties. In over a decade of teaching at Western University, he has taught core theory courses (2649,2650) as well as more specialized courses in Composition (2629), Twentieth-Century Theory and Analysis (3649/3650), Contemporary Repertoire and Analysis (9556), Romantic Analysis (3604), Chromatic Harmony (3602), Tonal Counterpoint (3620/3621), Modal Counterpoint (3610/3611), Orchestration(3640), Choral Arranging (3630) and Topics in Canadian Music (3760).

Troy completed his doctorate at the University of Toronto in 2008, where he studied with Christos Hatzis and Alexander Rapoport. Upon graduation, he was awarded the John Weinweig Graduating Award in Composition. Earlier degrees (M.Mus 2003, B. Mus. 2000) were from the University of Western Ontario, where Troy studied with David Myska, Peter Paul Koprowski and Alan Heard. Troy has been honoured with several scholarships, including an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2001-2), and was awarded the Alumni Gold Medal for Music at UWO in 2000.

Since 2014, Troy has served on the board of the Canadian University Music Society (MusCan) as Website Editor.