Michèle Reverdy

French composer (born 1943 in Alexandria, Egypt)

Michèle Reverdy is a prolific composer who writes in every genre. The close ties she forges with literature and painting are the hallmark of her language.

Michèle Reverdy started learning the piano at the age of six. As a teenager, she was inspired by Monteverdi, Beethoven and Bartók, and admired Debussy and Ravel's orchestral writing. She finally decided to spend her life writing music rather than literature. When she entered the Paris conservatoire in 1959, she studied the history of music, harmony, counterpoint, fugue, analysis and composition under the watchful eye of Olivier Messiaen. She believes her opus 1, Cante Jondo, which dates from 1974, is the first score whose language is truly hers, thanks to a controlled, atonal writing.
As much inspired by the great masters of the twentieth century (Stravinsky, Ligeti) as by the other forms of artistic expression, and in particular painting, she wrote various works (Espaces, Tétramorphie, Figure) in which the pictorial features have been converted into musical parameters.
Alongside her career as a composer, she decided to go into teaching. After qualifying as a teacher in 1964, she taught music in secondary schools, then in various music schools in Paris. From 1975 to 1978, she wrote articles that were published in the "Guide Musical" and "Panorama de la musique". She also wrote two authoritative analytical works on Olivier Messiaen's music for piano and for orchestra, published in 1978 and 1988.
In 1978, her composition Météores, dedicated to Messiaen, marked the end of Michèle Reverdy's studies. She was awarded the Philip Morris Foundation Prize and the Salabert Foundation Prize for this work. During her stay at the Casa de Velázquez between 1979 and 1981, she composed Le Château, an opera inspired by Kafka's novel, The Castle.
The 1980s were a period of intense artistic creation, during which Michèle Reverdy also produced a radio programme on the life of contemporary composers, broadcast on France Culture between 1982 and 1989. She was also appointed to the Paris conservatoire (CNSMDP) in 1983 to teach musical analysis and then in 1996 to teach orchestration.  

Six landmark dates in the life of Michèle Reverdy:
1959: entered the Paris conservatoire
1964: became a qualified teacher (artistic disciplines)
1979: stayed at the Casa de Velázquez
1982: was a producer at France Culture up until 1989
1983: appointed to the Paris conservatoire to teach musical analysis
2002: delivered a masterclass in composition at the San Francisco conservatoire

Six key works by Michèle Reverdy:
1974: Cante Jondo, for woman's voice, woodwinds, piano and percussion
1976: Tétramorphie, for viola and percussion
1978: Météores, for 17 instrumentalists
1983: Scenic Railway, for 16 musicians
1986: Le Château, opera
1997: Lac de Lune (premiered by the Orchestre National de France conducted by Kurt Masur in 2004)

Official website:

Biography compiled from Radio France Musical Documentation (July 2014)