Pierre Henry

La Maison de sons

september 1996 - july 2017

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La Maison de sons (House of Sounds), 32 rue de Toul, Paris 12th District, 2018 © Philippe Ayrault/Île-de-France region
Pierre Henry in the courtyard of La Maison de sons, Paris, 2005 © Patrick Messina


The final stage of Son/Ré, the studio house in the rue de Toul, was to be renamed ‘Maison de sons’ (House of Sounds) in 1996. The creator now welcomes the public into his home, something unprecedented in the history of contemporary music:‘I would say that I have spent half of my life in this house and the other half, there have been fragments of houses. With the home concerts, it's no longer about the house, it's about me playing a role. I'm interested in being close to people when I play concerts. I play my life, I express myself in front of an audience, and that's my state at that moment as an actor, more or less hidden behind the machines.’ (*).At a rate of about fifty people per evening, more than 10,000 spectators will have crowded into the moving intimacy of this new kind of performance hall lined with paintings representative of 'musique concrète' and magnetic tapes where the music travels from the console to a myriad of speakers ‘with sound effects of distance: the outside becomes the inside; it's a work of perspective, of placement in space and of sound diffusion' (**).

The infallible quartet of Pierre Henry, Isabelle Warnier, Bernadette Mangin and Étienne Bultingaire is sometimes joined by Thierry Balasse, Julien Claus, Aline Guillard, Nicolas Vérin and Jonathan Prager, while Annick Duboscq assists the composer in the creation of his concrete paintings.

From 1996 onwards, new instruments complete the equipment of the Son/Ré Studio: 1 Portadat PDR 1000 TC, 2 Sony PCM 7040 DAT digital recorders, 2 Yamaha digital consoles, several amplifiers and speakers with different features (A2T, Cabasse, Genelec, EAW, GKF, Yamaha and Durcy).

The fourteen years that followed saw the creation of Intérieur/Extérieur (1996), Dracula (2002), Voyage initiatique (2004), Miroirs du temps (2008), a new version of Dieu (2009) with Jean-Paul Farré, and Envol combined with a second version of Dracula in 2010. An ocean of sounds that invades the house - his ideal ‘burrow’, as he liked to say - and is introducing new compositions that feed numerous concerts all over the world, from Une histoire naturelle (1997) to La Note seule (2017), with La Dixième Remix (1998), Tam-Tam du merveilleux (2000), Concerto sans orchestre (2000), Carnet de Venise (2002), Le Fil de la vie (2012)... and so many others until his death on 5 July 2017.

This was followed by a year of mobilisation from the Son/Ré team and the start of a huge amount of work to preserve Pierre Henry's music and keep it alive today.


(*) Pierre Henry – Entretiens bucoliques et itinérants avec Isabelle Warnier – n° 13, 2014, Archives Pierre Henry, p. 2.
(**) Le Son, la nuit, interviews with Franck Mallet, Paris, Éditions de la Philharmonie, 2017, p. 101.
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Pierre Henry working at the console, Paris, © Rights reserved / Private collection Pierre Henry
A view of the studio seen from the console, Paris, 2018 © Philippe Ayrault/ Île-de-France region
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Studio of La Maison de sons, 2007- Luc Verrier © Son/Ré
Pierre Henry at the studio, 2011 © Lea Crespi

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