Luc Ferrari: Stereo Spasms

“Luc Ferrari: Stereo Spasms” celebrates the French composer in what would have been his 90th year, bringing together a range of musicians to mark the U.S. publication of the book Luc Ferrari: Complete Works (Ecstatic Peace Library).

Luc Ferrari (1929-2005) was one of the progenitors of musique concrète and a pioneer of and resonantly idiosyncratic voice within electroacoustic music. Ferrari was an early participant in the Groupe de Musique Concrète and, with Pierre Schaeffer and François-Bernard Mâche, co-founded the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in 1958. In the mid-1960s, largely unaltered environmental recordings began to work their way into his compositions, a process that culminated in the tremendously influential Presque rien No. 1 (Le Lever du jour au bord de la mer) (1970), a work whose source material was comprised exclusively of recordings made from a point overlooking a beach on the Dalmatian coast. Throughout his career, Ferrari worked in multiple forms: instrumental works, vocal music, text scores, electronic and electroacoustic music, and Hörspiele, and together with Gérard Patris he realized a series of short documentary films about musicians in rehearsal entitled Les Grands Répétitions.

The many stylistic shifts within Ferrari’s work paired with his wily, idiosyncratic aloofness from post-war music ideologies made him an especially appealing figure to younger musicians and composers, many of whom are participating in the Luc Ferrari: Stereo Spasms festival. It’s little surprise that Ferrari’s final decades were marked by encounters with musicians who knew him first from recordings but then were amazed to make the meaningful acquaintance of an ever-vital, generous, hilarious, wonderfully social artist who didn’t hesitate to throw himself into friendships and collaborative working relationships with those he recognized as kindred spirits.

“Luc Ferrari: Stereo Spasms” complements “Recherches Filmiques,” a series of Ferrari’s films at Anthology Film Archives (Nov 21-27).