Latest news

French composer Pierre Tilois ― visiting the Turkmen Conservatory

29.06.2023 | 01:09 |
 French composer Pierre Tilois ― visiting the Turkmen Conservatory

These days, French composer Pierre Tilois is in Turkmenistan, the owner of the most prestigious music awards in France, Germany, the United States, the author of about 300 works, including several operas, dozens of symphonies, concertos for a soloist and orchestra, symphonic poems, oratorios, quartets, music for cinema and more. For about ten years, Pierre Tilois has been the organizer of music festivals among composers, the founder of a number of creative teams, he is also actively involved in social activities.

The meeting with him took place within the walls of the Turkmen National Conservatory named after Maya Kuliyeva, where Pierre met and talked with teachers and students of the Department of Composition.

Composer students and their mentors were excited and intrigued by the forthcoming acquaintance with composer Tilois. Therefore, everyone thoroughly prepared for the meeting. The tactic consisted in the fact that each of the teachers of the department mentally prepared a speech, and the students came up with questions that they planned to ask the guest. But everything didn't go according to plan.

Pierre Tilois, with his spontaneity, openness and sincere manner of communicating, disarmed "ours", violating their entire strategy. Teachers and students of the conservatory were fascinated by the charm of the French composer.

― We talked quite at home, like old acquaintances, - later the participants of the meeting shared their impressions. - This happens when like-minded people or friends communicate.

The guest from France was introduced to Turkmen composers and their students. Then everyone began to actively “acquaint themselves”. Pierre Tilois presented the conservatory and our musicians with CDs of his compositions. To which, in response, he received an invitation to a concert to listen to the music of Turkmen composers.

During the conversation, the French guest shared facts from his life, studies, creativity, spoke about the stages of formation. It was especially interesting to learn that in France, composers, just like ours, go through all the stages of turning a student caterpillar into a composer butterfly. Starting with learning the basics of solfeggio, theory, harmony, and ending with counterpoint, arranging, reading scores and writing.

― The path of a musician is long and thorny, - the French guest said, - I started as a trombonist, played in an orchestra. Then, at about the age of 20, he decided to take up composition. My first mentors were French composers Noel Lansian and Jean Pierre Riviere. Then I went to study with other masters, including Alexander Mullenbach.

― A modern composer, in order to succeed, needs to be a generalist in the world of music, constantly improve, hone his skills. I tried myself in different fields - music for films, in large and simple forms, in avant-garde and popular styles ...

Communication with Pierre Tilois took place through translation from French into Turkmen and Russian. However, the teachers of the conservatory also arranged their own, "pedagogical" translation for students. Listening to the story of the French composer, the teachers periodically turned to the youth and commented, adding “You see? If you study hard, you will also succeed.”

Pierre Tilois smiled knowingly and nodded his head in solidarity. After all, he himself once taught. Wanting to support his Turkmen colleagues in their hard work, he shared an instructive story that happened to him during his student days.


Pierre Tilois smiled knowingly and nodded his head in solidarity. After all, he himself once taught. Wanting to support his Turkmen colleagues in their hard work, he shared an instructive story that happened to him during his student days.

― Thirty years ago, I entered one of the prestigious musical institutions in Salzburg - the “Mozarteum”. And so I came to the first lesson to my teacher. And he asked me to make a list of my twelve favorite works, so that all genres were represented, opera, symphony, quartet, etc. I included the Bach Suite, the “Boris Godunov” opera, the Shostakovich Quartet in my top list... When I brought the list to the teacher, he looked through it and returned it to me with the words: “I give you a year to copy all these works by hand.” I was furious. After all, studying at this institution costs a lot, and here is such an absurd (as it seemed to me then) requirement.

― Thirty years later, I remember this story with gratitude. My mentor was a thousand times right. The fact is that when manually rewriting scores, all types of memory are involved, figurative, visual and motor. Thanks to this method, I kind of plunged into the world of the author of the work, studied from the inside the features of his compositional technique and handwriting.

And at present, I still continue my "exercises" and rewrite two works every month. I can say what will be the next composition, which I will rewrite - this is Chary Nurymov's Concerto for Voice and Orchestra, - Pierre shared.

And this choice is not accidental. For his next visit to Turkmenistan (which will take place in autumn), Pierre Tilois will arrive with a musical gift. He will create his own Concerto for Voice and Orchestra, which will be performed by the Turkmen State Symphony Orchestra, and a specially invited vocalist from Germany will perform the vocal part in it. And the peculiarity of this new composition will be that the composer will use Turkmen folklore, rhythm, intonations and turns typical for Turkmen music.

During the meeting, the students of the conservatory were keenly interested in the style, writing methods and composing technique of Pierre Tilois.

― When creating music, it all depends on who my listener is, - he answered. - Each time it can be a different technique, style, direction. So, for example, when I wrote for the avant-garde music festival in Chicago, I understood that connoisseurs, professional musicians and listeners accustomed to complex intellectual music would gather in the hall. So the writing technique will be appropriate. At the same time, I could compose music for another festival, which was held in the mountains in Switzerland, where tourists come. People on vacation want to hear something simple, easy and accessible for perception. And here I already use other expressive means. But in general, the composer's path is very difficult. In order, for example, to become one of the composers who receive orders to create music, you need to win big competitions, proving your abilities to everyone.

― I spend most of my time traveling and making tours. Being in a new country for me, getting acquainted with its original culture, in order to better interact with it, I create music using elements of folklore, rhythm, folk melodies. It is music, - being a unique and universal language, that becomes a bridge built of 12 notes, which connects me with another country, allowing a kind of dialogue between two cultures, - Pierre explained.

― I was lucky to work on musical projects in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, India, Turkey ... In each of these countries I wrote new compositions, the source of inspiration for which was not only the music itself (traditional, composer, popular), but also history, traditions, culture, customs of this people. And therefore, I consider myself an ethno-composer. And by the way, my passion for anthropology helps me a lot in my work, - the guest said.

As for composing techniques, in his opinion, everything that has been invented over the past 50 years no longer attracts listeners. And therefore, you need to look for something new, something that will return the audience to the halls.

― Everyone around me advises to write for small chamber ensembles, as it is convenient in all respects - it is not so expensive, a small ensemble is easier to assemble and it is more mobile, unlike a symphony orchestra. But against all odds, I continue to write for a large orchestra. For example, in 2010, 300 musicians were involved in the performance of Tilois’ symphonic work. Perhaps for his love of large-scale compositions and gigantic works, European music critics call him a "composer-sorcerer, organizer of chaos, lawmaker of disasters", and also "a workaholic who works to exhaustion."

The meeting participants also asked if Pierre Tilois uses the possibilities of electronic music, and how often he resorts to new musical technologies.

― I often use electronic music, but for me this is not a goal, but a means of expression. And its use must be justified. In those cases when I cannot find the sound, timbre or any sound I need among ordinary orchestral instruments, I can resort to the help of electronic instruments. And I also like the acoustics. This is a whole trend in modern music. I love looking for new unusual sounds. Somehow I was fascinated by the idea of reproducing the sound of an erupting volcano. And in one of my compositions I used low-frequency sounds that the listeners could not catch with their ears, but physically felt the vibrations that were getting closer and closer to them. As a result, when the listeners were completely enveloped in these vibrations, the pitch of the sound gradually began to grow and the listeners found themselves, as it were, in the very center of the chord, as if in the mouth of a seething volcano...

Also, the teachers of the conservatory asked Pierre Tilois to tell in more detail about the work “Khojaly 613”, the recording of which he brought with him.

― This is a piece for violin and orchestra, - the French guest explained. - Motifs of folk melodies and oriental intonations are interspersed in the musical fabric of the composition. Khojali is the name of a village in Karabakh, and the number 613 is the number of victims. The work is dedicated to the sad events of 1992. I truly believe that music is an effective tool for reconciliation and conflict resolution. Music alone is able to touch the most hidden strings of the human soul.

The French guest also told a lot of interesting things about his musical know-how: the “interactive” method of composing music. This is when the score is written according to the results of a vote by listeners on the Internet or through the press. The idea is about the same as in the books that have become popular, where the reader himself becomes the main character and can choose in which direction the plot will develop. Voting is held every three days, and the composer manages to compose the next fragment of the work during this period of time.

The public, by voting through a special application, can decide not only regarding the dramatic turns in the development of a musical work, but also remove one or another musician from the composition, or vice versa add.

After such news, all participants of the meeting began to discuss animatedly: “Which of the musicians of the orchestra is the public more likely to exclude from the score?” And for some reason, everyone unanimously decided that this was most likely a double bass player. But it turned out that most often the listeners "delete" the trumpeter.

Pierre Tilois also spoke about his musical project a la “Police Investigation”. The idea is that the composer is declared missing. And in order to unravel this complex matter, you need to look for clues in the score and music itself. For example, a message can be encrypted there in the form of letters, or with the help of musical motifs-symbols. For example, in the eighth quartet of Shostakovich there are notes, the letter designations of which are the initials of the composer himself.

I did not want to interrupt my communication with the French composer, but the time imperceptibly came to an end. The meeting participants thanked the guest for an interesting conversation, took pictures, exchanged email addresses, and asked to hold master classes. In addition, a proposal was also made that Pierre Tilois give the students-composers a creative task, and in the fall, during the next meeting, they will show him the finished results of their work. Those who did not have time to communicate with the composer will have the opportunity to meet him at the French Institute in Turkmenistan on June 30.

In conclusion, it remains to wish everyone to be patient, because very soon, in the fall, we will witness the birth of a new work by composer Pierre Tilois - Concerto for Voice and Orchestra. It will be a musical story of the composer about us, a French composition with a Turkmen soul.


Photo: author

Read also: