updated 26 August 2020
© Patricia Dietzi, ed. Durand

Mark Andre

French composer born 10 May 1964 in Paris.

Marc André was born in Paris on 10 May 1964. (He was known by his birth name until 2007, when he officially changed the spelling to Mark Andre.) He attended the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP) from 1987 to 1993, where he studied composition, counterpoint, music theory, analysis, and musicology, working with Claude Ballif and Gérard Grisey, among others. He graduated with highest honors (premier prix). After studying at the École normale supérieure (Paris) and the Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance (Tours), he received a masters degree in 1994, with a thesis on Le Compossible musical de l’Ars subtilior under the direction of Philippe Vendrix and Olivier Boulnois, an expert on Duns Scotus. With a Lavoisier Scholarship from the French Foreign Ministry, Andre then attended the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart, where, from 1993 to 1996, he worked with Helmut Lachenmann, receiving an advanced degree in composition (Grosses Kompositionsexamen). Lachenmann publicly praised his student in 2006.

He received fellowships from the Schloss Solitude Academy in Stuttgart in 1995 and 1996. In 1996, he was awarded a scholarship from the German Academic Exhange Service (DAAD) and a Villa Medicis hors les murs grant for a residency in Germany. That same year, he took masterclasses with Wolfgang Rihm and won the Kranichstein Music Prize during the Darmstadt Summer Course for un-fini I for harp (1995) and le loin et le profond (1994-1995) for ensemble. He also received first prize in the Blaue Brücke Berlin-Dresden for Fatal for ensemble (1995). From 1997-1998 he studied electronic music with André Richard at the Experimental Studio of the Heinrich Strobel Foundation at the SWR (Freiburg), winning first prize at the Stuttgart International Composers’ Competition for Le trou noir univers for orchestra, vocalists, and live electronics (1992-1993). He was awarded a residency by SWR and the City of Baden-Baden for the year 1997-1998, and taught composition at the Darmstadt Summer Course in 1998 (as well as in 2006 and 2010). In 1997, he also began teaching counterpoint and orchestration at the Conservatoire National de Région in Strasbourg and the Frankfurt Musikhochschule.

Andre was awarded a residency at the Villa Medicis in Rome from 1998 to 2000, and in 2001 received the Internationaler Kompositionspreis from the Frankfurt Opera for …das O…, Part 1 of …22,13…, which was premiered by Ensemble Modern under Johannes Debus. In 2002, he received the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Förderpreis. …22,13…, Musiktheater-Passion (1999-2004), composed for the Munich Biennale and the Mainz City Theatre, premiered in Munich on 20 May 2004, with Peter Hirsch as musical director and Georges Delnon as stage director. It was then performed in Munich, Mainz, and at the Festival d’Automne at the Opéra Bastille, in Paris.

Andre was invited to take part in the DAAD Artist Program in Berlin in 2005. His music continued winning prizes, with the Christoph and Stefan Kaske Composition Prize in 2006; the Giga Hertz Production Prize for electronic music (Karlsruhe) in 2007; and the Orchestral prize from the Donaueschingen Festival for the third part of the auf triptych, premiered by the SWR Sinfonieorchester of Baden-Baden and Freiburg, directed by Sylvain Cambreling. In 2008, he received the Berlin Art Prize Förderpreis for Music from the Berlin Academy of Arts and in 2012, the Gerhart and Renate Baum Foundation Composition Prize. The entire auf triptych was premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker on 28 March 2009. That same year, Andre was named to the Berlin Academy of Arts and appointed Professor of Composition at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. Since 2010, he has also been a member of the Saxon Academy of Arts and Music, and, since 2012, an honorary member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts.

In 2010, Andre taught composition at the Académie of the Festival d’Aix, in France, and was a composer-in-residence at the Takefu International Music festival in Japan. In 2012, he served as composer-in-residence at the Salzburg Mozartwoche, and in 2012-2013, was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) in Berlin. wunderzaichen, his “opera in four situations” (2011-2013) with a libretto by Patrick Hahn, was premiered at the Stuttgart Opera on 2 March 2014, with Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito as stage directors and Sylvain Cambreling as musical director.

Andre was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2011. He makes his home in Berlin.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2016

By Laurent Feneyrou

Mark Andre’s work weaves together many different threads, many distinct dimensions, inextricably: his music is an existential, spiritual, and bodily experience, created in the tradition of Helmut Lachenmann. It is rooted in a religious (and even mystical) substrate of art as it tends toward a unified whole – it is a quest for transparency, for instrumental invention; its attention is with the unstable, the fragile, the friable; it hovers at the very threshold of what is audible (subtle whisperings, and, at the other end of the spectrum, explosive booms); coiled in it is the creation of a complex causality that plunges into and flows from the Ars Subtilior of the 14th century and from the theories of Edgar Morin. For the clarity of this essay, we will be temporarily dissociating the two temporarily unweaving this radical fabric, starting with faith and then science – the main threads of both warp and weft, and weaving them back together as we move through the chronology of his catalogue.


Mark Andre’s conceptually dense explorations link music and religion – and, more specifically his own Protestant faith; in the late 1990s, in a moment of a distancing from and even abandonment of theoretical discourse, this manifested in the use of essentially biblical texts and ideas, most of them taken from the New Testament:

Kenosis (1999) for wind trio draws on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (2:7) “…but emptied himself [ἐκένωσεν], taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness”.1 Paul uses the image of ekkenosis, the action of emptying oneself (which is translated in the musical structure), to describe how Jesus Christ abandoned God’s attributes in assuming human form.

  • Zum Staub sollst du zurückkehren (2005), for seven instruments, takes up the assertion in Genesis 3:19 that “…you are dust/and to dust you shall return.” Dust (here, sonic dust) can also be translated as ash, which is the title of another of Andre’s works, asche (2004), for five instruments.

  • …22:13… (“Musiktheater-Passion” in three parts, 1999-2004), is a reference to the thirteenth verse of the twenty-second and last chapter of the Revelation to Saint John: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” The Protestant theologian Pierre Prigent, whose writing on John’s Apocalypse2 was a key source for Mark Andre, emphasized that Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, were essentially synonyms for first and last as absolutes, but only when “last” was not understood as an ending or a conclusion of God. The idea of a perfection or culmination in first and last letters appears in the Jewish theological tradition as well: the Hebrew word for “truth,” emet, written אמת, is considered a symbolic expression of God, in that it is written with the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, mem, and tav). Alpha and Omega, first and last, are cognate with God in other verses, as well (1:8, 1:17, 2:8, and 21:6), but in the one Andre chose for the title of his piece, they apply to Christ, the One here linked with the One beyond, their names made interchangeable.

  • …22:13… is divided into three sections: …das O…, …das Letzte…, …das Ende…; in other words, of the three word pairings in the verse, it retains only the second each time. Other sources are layered onto this central source: Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal, whose title is drawn from Revelations 8:1, is evoked in …22:13… when the verse is sung in Swedish: “When [als] the lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Silence precedes the thundering and the voices, the flashes of lightning and the quavering of a golden censer, which an angel fills with fire and throws to the ground, at which point seven other angels blow seven trumpets, creating sorrow and plagues, turning water to blood, sowing terror among flames, and finally announcing the Day of Judgement. Andre refers to another source in this piece: the sixth and second sets (in this reverse order) that Garry Kasparov played against IBM’s Deep Blue on 11 and 4 May 1997, which the chess master conceded after the nineteenth and the forty-fifth move, respectively. The score plays with this by adopting a chessboard structure – reminding the listener, in turn, of the part in Bergman’s film when Antonius Block, the medieval knight, returns from the crusades to find his country ravaged by the plague, and challenges Death to a chess match. In the third part of …22:13…, Kasparov’s concession recalls The Acts of the Apostles (2:2), “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind,” a wind that four angels, “standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree” in Revelations (7:1). Andre layers a final source into the piece, the cattle cars of the “ghost train” that departed from Toulouse on 3 July 1944, carrying Jews, Christians, and veterans of the Spanish Civil War, which arrived at the Dachau concentration camp fifty-seven days later, on 28 August 1944. The sacrificed angels join this convoy of deathly, ghostly presences.

Mark Andre’s sibylline approach can often be seen in the titles of his works, which are often a single word – a preposition, a prefix, or an adverb. For example, the word “ab” (from) is used in two pieces, ab I (1996, originally written in all capital letters), for contrabass clarinet, cello, and piano, and ab II (1996-1997, idem), for contrabass clarinet, cimbalom, cello, piano, percussion, and live electronics. Similarly, Andre uses the German word in as the title for a piece for bass clarinet (2002). Other, more recent concertos, are similarly brief and inscrutable: an (at, 2014-2015), for violin and orchestra, and über (above or on, 2015), for clarinet, orchestra, and live electronics, “zu” (to), and “durch” (by, through, during, by means of), of which only the composer is able to reveal the biblical origins. A more direct biblical connection is evident in …zu…, a string trio written in 2004 in reference to a phrase that appears in Luther’s translation of Revelations into the German vernacular (1:6 and 18; 4:9 and 10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 20:10; 22:5): von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit (“forever and ever”). These are the words John uses to designate a dominion beyond time, the reign, the glory, the power, and the wisdom of God which Andre translates into music with a circular canon. According to Andre, durch (2004-2005), for saxophone, percussion, and piano, evokes The Gospel of Luke (13:23-24): “Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, “Strive to enter through [durch] the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” Transition – religious, existential, compositional – passage, intermediation, state change, in no way process-driven, are the building blocks of Mark Andre’s oeuvre, all of them ultimately building up to the Resurrection of Christ. Moreover, the Rhineland mystics used the word durch to describe the process of becoming, of tending toward the Absolute. Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, and Johannes Tauler all used the word Durchbruch (“breakthrough”) to describe this process of becoming in which a person sheds their illusory and painful – because limited – consciousness, and enters or returns to the mysteries of the Godhead, the Unity, allowing the Unity to grasp itself and to be grasped from within as Absolute Unity. In Andre’s work, particularly his orchestral work, from a depth of silence, of holds, of stilled gestures, of shadowy and sometimes magmatic forms, to discrete attacks, some strictly stable, bloom or burst and then ebb away, sharp strokes and attacks, vertical ephemeral sparkles and explosions of varying density and thickness.

The triptych …auf… (2005-2007) for large orchestra and, in the third piece, live electronics, brings in this same intermediary: “The German preposition and adverb auf connotes the idea of a threshold, a form of transition, of passing, for example, in compound verbs such as aufgeben (“to give up”), aufhören (to stop), aufheben (to abolish or keep). In this piece I wanted to evoke the idea of the threshold between sound spaces and families, a threshold that also has an existential or metaphysical element.” The term Aufhebung (annulment or rescinding) also resonates in …auf…, the synthesis within the dialectic that simultaneously preserves and abolishes, abrogates and sublimates. Similar to Helmut Lachenmann, Mark Andre sees in moments of negation – or silence – the very essence of this dialectic, when the felled tree has not yet become paper or table. Finally, …auf… also refers to the Resurrection (Auferstehung) as the evangelists told of it, to the glorified body, to sins redeemed and to freedom from death. In this Resurrection of Christ, such a triptych is only the “metaphysical transient,” the “almost nothing,” the merest whisper of the immense sound to come. And yet, if its title retains only the auf in Aufhebung or Auferstehung, it is because Mark Andre is working not as a philosopher, not as a theologian, not even as a simple believer – rather, as a musician, he is pointing to a basal movement within each human’s existence.

It is also worth mentioning the diptych hij in this context, made up of a first piece for orchestra (2008-2009) and a second for twenty-four voices and live electronics (2012). The title is an abbreviation of Hilfe Jesu. The cycle iv, which Andre began composing in 2007 and mostly calls on instrumental soloists or traditional ensembles (wind trio, string trio, string quartet, etc.), is a kind of research experiment on timbre and extended techniques, careful to open up “other inner creative spaces that have hitherto remained unexplored,” and suggests a “meta-problem” – a problem of transcendence: the idea of intro-version, in which the musical experience is charged with a tension that is more metaphysical than theological in the strict sense of that term, even if Andre evokes a “search for the existential and metaphysical traces of the presence and the power of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Winnowing away (and lowercasing) the letters of these titles is an ecumenical gesture – the work is addressed to Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers, without proselytizing – allowing for all sorts of resonances, mainly at the existential level, opening the senses in all spatial and temporal directions. In these orientations of space and time, it is impossible to distinguish the sound from the gesture producing it, from the concept or the body of compositional strategies that structure it, from the emotional tone, from the expressions it creates or inspires in the musician or the listener. “This type of preposition is almost a semantic graveyard, at once open-ended and incomplete, and recalls vast, wide-open, hidden spaces.” In other words, the word is like a trace, a vestige, a ruin of its origins, as the ellipses hugging the prepositions and adverbs of these titles attest.

Mark Andre’s Protestantism, imbued with the Revelation, finds further depth in the opera wunderzaichen (2011-2013) for soloists, orator, mixed choir, orchestra, and live electronics. It was written in the Kabbalistic tradition of the German philosopher and theologian Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522), who brought concepts from Jewish mysticism to a Christian audience. The title of this work, which unfolds in four “situations” (rather than acts), can be translated as “wondrous signs, ” and was borrowed from Goethe’s description of Reuchlin’s writings. Below is a brief synopsis.

Situation 1: Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv. Pilgrims and tourists are lined up, waiting to enter the Holy Land. Among them is Johannes, a Kabbalist and the author of a textbook on Hebrew. Watching the border agents check the travellers’ documents, he wonders about his identity: he is living with a transplanted heart, an “intruder.” When it is his turn to speak to an agent, his behaviour appears suspicious. He is held for interrogation.

Situation 2: The police station. A police officer is interrogating a woman. Johannes, who gives his name as Reuchlin, continues to behave strangely, claiming he was born for the second time about twenty years ago. Evoking the unity of all living beings, he tells a Kabbalistic parable of a potter who shatters his pots to reveal their hidden faults as the officer searches the internet and learns that Reuchlin is long dead. He refuses to allow Johannes or the woman to enter the country.

Situation 3: A fast-food restaurant. The police officer and two other officers wait on pilgrims and tourists. Johannes tells another parable, this time of a man living alone in the mountains who knows the essence of the wheat from which all breads in the city are made. He learns the name of the woman, Maria, and dies of a heart attack. The police officer turns into an archangel.

Situation 4: Johannes has left his body. From a distance, he watches the crowds on their search for God and meditates on resurrection, language, love… He feels that he is an intruder, in the world and in himself. Maria grieves for Johannes. He wants to speak to her, but she asks not to be touched. The loudspeakers call for Johannes in the departure hall.

The libretto, co-authored by Andre and Patrick Hahn (dramaturge with the Stuttgart Staatsoper), is in German, Hebrew, and more exceptionally, in the basic English of travellers. It borrows from the Bible, from the treatises of Johannes Reuchlin (Augenspiegel/ Eyeglass, De verbo mirifico / The wonder-working word, De arte cabbalistica / The Kabbalistic Art) and from two works by Jean-Luc Nancy (L’Intrus/The Intruder and Noli me tangere). The libretto also cites Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, as well as Bazon Brock, Paul Celan, Peter Nadas (La Mort seul à seul), Jean Paul, Gershom Scholem, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In it, religious dimensions, genres, and themes are easily perceived: angelology, the parable, which, as Jean-Luc Nancy wrote, “speaks only to those who have already understood it,” the spiritual dimensions of numbers, letters and names; resurrection, absence (Abwesenheit) as an other form of presence, to name just a few, as well as the allusion to the Book of John (20:17) in Maria’s version of the Noli me tangere of Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she discovers the empty tomb, through which the touch of the body of the Risen is expressly withdrawn. These traces of the sacred are also musical, as Mark Andre composes with the concrete sounds of a religious landscape: while traveling in Israel on a “metaphysical road trip” in 2011, the composer recorded not only the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, whose dominant note, a D, flows through one of the situations of the work, but also the Western Wall, the Capernaum Synagogue, as well as the natural sounds of Lake Tiberius, the Dead Sea, and the desert.


At first listen, the work of Mark Andre seems to draw on Helmut Lachenmann’s notion of “instrumental musique concrète.” Uncommon extended techniques abound. In …zu…, for example, on the strings, he asks the musicians to play behind the bridge, on the bridge, on the neck, all the way up to the scroll, as well as directly on the bridge between the strings and the body, with differing degrees of pressure (Druck: D) in the left hand (scale of 5/5 D to 1/5 D) and differing degrees of bow pressure (Bogendruck: BD) (from +5BD to -5BD, with “normal” pressure in the middle); Bartók pizzicato on an open string and with dampened strings; with the bow stick on muted strings; toward the tip and toward the frog on the length of the string with no determined pitch; with the fingernails, fingertips; downbow with jeté stroke; a scale of sound perforation, from no sound to a sound emerging (on a five-degree scale). Or, with the wind instruments: diatonic cluster, pseudo-flutter-tonguing, tongue ram, pseudo-slap, slap with more or less sound (three-degree scale), glissando with or without breath, graduated scale from breath and sound (four-degree scale), pure breathing, 3-, 7-, or 10- centimetre distance between the player’s mouth and the mouthpiece, multiphonics, micro-interval oscillation, percussion on the mouthpiece, harmonic perforation (three-degree scale), alternating inhalation and exhalation…

Let us take, for example, a solo piece, …in…, for bass clarinet, in which the score has the performer turn their back to the audience toward an open piano with the sustain pedal down. The instrument is amplified, and, if it is not, is located at approximately one meter from a tam-tam that reverberates and dilates the timbres. Mark Andre gives precise breathing notes for the clarinettist (inhale, exhale) as well as for breath placement (in the mouthpiece, away from the mouthpiece, on a 5-degree scale), the unstable equilibrium between sound and breath (5-degree scale), as well as breath alone, multiphonics, percussive sounds (with the palm of the hand, key sounds, mixed or exclusive) teeth on the reed, simulation of an asthma attack… but also the tessitura of a sung vowel or the head resonance of an unsung vowel. Here again, this instrumental work contains that same verse from Revelations we find in Musiktheater-Passion, but with only a few hints remaining. Overall, the vocabulary seems to be shared with Helmut Lachenmann (even though, according to conductor Sylvain Cambreling, a favorite interpreter of the two composers, the “spiritualization of the material” of Lachenmann is distinct from the “materialization of the spiritual” found with Mark Andre, which aims more at the transmission of ideas from soul to soul).

This is not at all the case for grammar. Certainly, the work of Mark Andre plumbs the absolute, the abyss; Ein Abgrund, which is not about union with God (who would thus be an object), but about being one with God (unum et non unitum, as Meister Eckhart taught). But his music also, and to the same degree, incorporates the teachings of science, which stands with uncertainty at the threshold beyond which we as yet know nothing – since Gaston Bachelard and Karl Popper, epistemological uncertainty flows beneath the foundations of all scientific knowledge. Mark Andre nevertheless follows it in its recent advances. Thus, most obviously, Modell (1999-2000), for large orchestra in five groups, was born of exchanges with CERN researchers and of graphic representations of particle collisions, whose mass and location determine the density, duration, and proportions of sound events. However, let us return to Andre’s early theoretical writings and their recusal of classicism’s linear causality, which is also at work in serial structuralism:

“The most significant point of convergence between musical and scientific utopia seems to me to be the emergence of complex causality. The principle of causal determinism, which commanded both science and music in earlier periods, has continued its supple transformation into statistical probabilistic causality; the very idea of causality remained rigid, linear, stable, closed, imperative: everywhere, always under the same conditions, the same causes producing the same effects, there could be no question of an effect disobeying the cause or the metacause; there could be no question of a retroactive effect affecting the cause and, without ceasing to be an effect, becoming causal, its cause becoming its effect while remaining the cause. By this token, retroaction links up to the idea of the loop; that is, of organizational autonomy. Organizational autonomy determines causal autonomy; that is, a sort of endocausality that cannot be reduced to a relationship of cause and effect. There therefore exists a causality that engenders itself in and through the very process of production. The character of exocausality and endocausality – at once disjointed and associated, complementary and antagonistic – implies a complex of interrelated mutual causality. Introducing internal uncertainty (or the principle of uncertainty in quantum mechanics) into causality remains the major event in music as in science (physics, astrophysics), redefining and reactualizing the concept of complexity, of organizational activity.”

This passage draws on the thinking of Edgar Morin in Volume 1 of Method, adopting its vocabulary and even paraphrasing it. Logically, in his compositions, Mark Andre updates complex contexts where retroaction and recursiveness shatter linear causality and open up a kind of constantly transforming circular causality, where effect influences cause, and where generally improbable states become locally and temporarily probable. It is doubtless this temptation of the “compossible” that Andre perceived in the work of Jean Barraqué, where the series is not itself, but is always becoming, formed and forming.

According to the composer, this kind of causality gives rise to the crisis of three aesthetic trends: the acoustic model, which would be only an update of Ramist theory, including in the realm of spectral music; the parametric, serial model, whose decomposition of sound into parameters and parts would henceforth be impossible, precisely because of mutual causality; and the experimental model of musical objects, which is insufficient – even though Andre uses “concrete” sounds, as in wunderzaichen or with the hiss of train wheels stopping and starting in …22:13…. In an article titled “The Question of Architecture in Composition,” Andre proposes two other models: deconstructive and dialogical. The first is built on a first quadriparti:

Deconstruction Fragmentation

Construction Defragmentation

Following the thesis of the astronomer Edwin Hubble, which states that the cosmos is organized around disintegration – a cosmological model that is complex and polymorphous and renounces the precision of totalizing knowledge – Mark Andre has put forward the deconstructive model of music without closing it within principles of composition alone. “It is an ongoing search for metaphysical states, experiences, and at the same time a quest for the foundations.” Fragmentation and defragmentation are internal causal operations (consequently, an endocausality), that do not call into question structural planes and the hierarchy of constituent elements, contrary to deconstruction and construction, which are exocausal operations.

As for the dialogical model, it presupposes the presence of a recursive organization (called morphostasis) and of ongoing reorganization. It is built on a second quadriparti:

Order Organisation

Non-order Interaction

For Mark Andre, musical works, between deconstruction and dialogic, but also dialectic, describe a dense arc, subtle, complex, all tensions, all resolutions.

Three types of sound are at work here, three categories, three groups, easily audible as such, in their archetypical form, but also, and above all, interpolated and interlaced:

  1. “habitual” harmonic sound, with rigorously constructed parameters (the pitch of traditional sounds, where micro-intervals also flood in, and rhythm), and which come from computer algorithms. Thus, at the beginning of …auf… II, the material is used with various random functions and various sorting, with two pianos. Little by little, through fragmentation, the algorithmic work reveals itself to be contingent. If the algorithm serves to create a polarity, and then to define a dialectic, Andre immediately feels in his ars combinatoria the dangers of a neo-positivist attitude, from which he intends to distance himself.
  2. inharmonic sound, such as with a bell, for example, when the performers in S1 (2009-2012), for two pianos, play the strings of their instruments such that micro-intervallic colors can be heard. This is a sound-texture, or a time-texture, introducing an internal morphological disquiet with its own breathing, that can no longer be part of, and thus is no longer inscribed in the temporal arrangements set by proportions. Here, from this perspective, organicity takes over.
  3. finally, the noises or the noise subtypes where listening to fragile states culminates.

The first type of sound implies one last look at the theoretical writings of Mark Andre. One of them examines fourteenth-century Ars Subtilior using the concept of the “compossible” exposed by the “subtle doctor” John Duns Scotus in § 78 of the Tractatus de Primo Principio. “The (com-)possible is much more than the faculty of choice in a statistical set (the totality of states of fact, past, present, and future), but a window opened on the compositionally unthinkable.” If God gives Godself in God’s infinity, produces finite essences, and combines the two into compossibles, each finite organization is linked to an open, infinite organization of eternity. In the thirteenth century, Franco of Cologne, in his Ars Cantus Mensurabilis, abandoned the rhythmic modes that still governed the metric organisation of the Ars Antiqua motets, and had already devised notation dividing the longa in perfect mode (three breves) and imperfect mode (two breves), designated by the same symbol – the breve was recta or altera, while the semibreve (whole note) was either major or minor, and then divided further, down to the brevity of the dragma and fusa. Musical time was thus compossible, divided between the finite (the base unit) and the infinite (its principle of division), which radicalizes the complex “placements into time” of Mark Andre. The finite and the infinite, as they are explained by John Duns Scotus, and as they are used in the musical structures and the notation of the fourteenth century masters, run through his cycle Un-fini (1993-1996), for example, which is made up of four works of chamber music.

As for the two latter types of sound, they call into question the construction, the algorithm, and the mensural system, and the structures fly to pieces. To the detriment of a dialogical model, a dialectic comes into place, which tenses states and corrodes them, making “a graveyard of structuring markers.” The passage from one type of sound to another gives the work an organic way of being, traversed by births, growths, and deaths, renaissances, other growths, new losses of energy, all the way to the ultimate shattering. The force of Mark Andre’s work can be found in what it builds for itself as a whole as it unfolds, from beginning to end, alpha and omega. It does not presuppose any plan, any form, that would precede the material, and that the material ought to follow, inexorably, but unceasingly creates its own universe, a cosmology that is expanding and disintegrating. This is why the idea of the threshold, Schwelle, whose first letter gives its title to S1, affects the dimensions of musical discourse so much. Touch and ways of playing, which we evoked earlier on, are a large part of this, in that they make it possible to cross the threshold of types of sound with morphologically distinct qualities and identities. More generally, the idea of the threshold can be found in his search for sounds that are neither purely instrumental or exclusively electronic, but intermediary, as in …auf III…, where, in the interstices between two acoustic spaces, one virtual, taking recordings of sacred places and modelling them, and the actual architecture of the concert hall, where this virtual space plays out – as in …üg… (2008), for ensemble and electronics.

A final step remains, of withdrawal, which live electronics operate gladly, according to a process called convolution, a morphological and sonic phenomenon – Faltung can also be translated as folding or puckering, which, it may be recalled, evokes a combination of these two functions. The acoustic characteristics of the decay transient are applied to the attack transient, to its beginnings. “All of these transformations, calculated in real time, put to work different sonic forms of the orchestra (impulses) and “fold” them through other responding sound forms.” Impulse arrives in another place. This folding, of course – and for the last time – is existential: it tells of convolution as opening to others; as well as metaphysical… the alpha arrives at the omega; in an instant, time is abolished, a brief mirror of eternity.

  1. Biblical citations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Oxford Annotated Version, Oxford University Press, 1991).
  2. See, for example, Pierre Prigent, L’Apocalypse de saint Jean, Genève, Labor et Fides, 2000.
  3. Composer’s notes for …auf III… (unpublished).
  4. Interview with the author, 8 June 2009.
  5. Jean-Luc Nancy, Noli me tangere [2003], Paris, Bayard, 2013, p. 13.
  6. Sylvain Cambreling, “Materialisierung des Spirituellen. Sylvain Cambreling über die Musik von Mark Andre,” Program for performances of wunderzaichen, Stuttgart, Staatsoper, 2014, p. 8-12.
  7. Ein Abgrund (An abyss) is the title of a work written in 2000 for viola, cello, and baryton, not in this mystical perspective, although it does not exclude this, but based on a fragment from Wozzeck (Act II, Scene 3) by Alban Berg: “Man is an abyss, your head spins when you look outside… my head is spinning…” See also two other titles Mise en abîme I and Mise en abîme II (1991 et 1992), for ensemble.
  8. Cahiers de l’Ircam, 4 (1993), Utopies, p. 104-105.
  9. See Edgar Morin, La Méthode. I. La nature de la nature, Paris, Seuil, 1977, p. 257 sq.
  10. See Mark Andre, “Das Werk Jean Barraqués,” Musik und Ästhetik, 9 (1999), p. 109-113.
  11. Mark Andre, “Die Frage nach der Architektur des Komponierens,” Musik und Ästhetik, 13 (2000), p. 62-67.
  12. Mark Andre, Interview with Jean-Luc Menet (2009) in Ensemble Alternance. Mark Andre CD, STR33837.
  13. Mark Andre, “Du compossible musical dans l’Ars subtilior,” L’Harmonie (conducted by Christophe Carraud), Orléans / Meaux, Institut des arts visuels / Conférence, 2000, p. 327-328.
  14. See Mark Andre, “Die Klang-Zeitfamilien und kompositorischen Zwischenräume in …üg… für Ensemble und Elektronik,” Musik-Konzepte, 167 (2015), Mark Andre, p. 40-60.
  15. Composer’s notes for …auf III… (unpublished).

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2016

  • Solo music (except voice)
    • un-fini I for harp (1995), 11 mn, Carus verlag
    • un-fini II for harpsichord (1994-1995), 12 mn, Durand
    • un-fini III for piano (1993-1995), 17 mn, Durand
    • Contrapunctus for piano (1998-1999), 11 mn, Durand
    • elec …hoc… for cello and live electronics (2005-2006), 17 mn, Peters
    • iv 2 for solo cello (2007), 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 3 for solo clarinet (2006-2007), 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 7 for solo double bass clarinet (2008-2009), 8 mn, Peters
    • iv 1 for solo piano (2010), 19 mn, Peters
    • iv 6a for solo trumpet (2009-2010), 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 6b for solo trumpet (2010), 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 11a for solo piano (2011), 4 mn, Peters
    • iv 11b for solo piano (2011), 4 mn, Peters
    • e for solo cello (2012), 13 mn, Peters
    • iv 5 for solo oboe (2012), 8 mn, Peters
    • iv 12 for soprano saxophone (2013), 14 mn, Peters
    • iv 11c for solo piano (2015), Peters
    • S2 for percussion (2015), 23 mn, Peters
    • elec S3 for piano and electronics (2015), 21 mn, Peters
    • Atemwind for clarinet (2017), 12 mn, Peters
    • iv 15 Himmelfahrt for organ (2018), 21 mn, Peters
    • elec selig sind... for clarinet and electronics (2018), 26 mn, Peters
  • Chamber music
    • Pièces noires for harp, trombone, bass clarinet and cello (1992), 10 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • un-fini for set (1995-1996), 15 mn, Carus verlag
    • ab I for ensemble (1996-1997), 15 mn, Peters
    • elec ab II for ensemble and live electronics (1996-1997), 31 mn, Peters
    • Tempus perfectum for six percussionists (1998), 17 mn, Durand
    • Kenosis for wind trio (1999), 20 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • kanon for double bass clarinet, double bass and piano (2000), 15 mn, Peters
    • …als… I for bass clarinet, cello and piano (2000-2001), 18 mn, Peters
    • elec …als… II for bass clarinet, cello, piano and live electronics (2000-2001), 21 mn, Ricordi
    • asche for five instruments (2004), 15 mn, Ricordi
    • ...in... for bass clarinet and piano (2003-2005), Durand
    • durch for soprano saxophone, percussion and piano (2004-2005), 17 mn, Peters
    • …zu… for string trio (2003-2005), 12 mn, Peters
    • iv 4 for flute, oboe, clarinet and tuba (2009), 6 mn, Peters
    • iv 8 for string trio (2009-2010), 17 mn, Peters
    • iv 9 for wood trio (2010), 3 mn, Peters
    • S1 for two pianos (2012), 26 mn, Peters
    • e 2 for cello and double bass (2013), 12 mn, Peters
    • iv 13a miniature for string quartet (2014), 2 mn, Peters
    • iv 14 for two guitars (2014), 11 mn, Peters
    • iv 13 miniature for string quartet (2014-2017), 21 mn, Peters
  • Ensemble music
    • Mise en abîme I for large group (1991), 8 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Mise en abîme II (1992), 20 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Fatal for ensemble (1994-1995), 26 mn, Durand
    • le loin et le profond for set (1994-1995), 15 mn, Carus verlag
    • Modell for five orchestral groups (69 musicians) (1999-2000), 45 mn, Durand
    • Zum Staub sollst du zurückkehren for seven instruments (2005), 17 mn, Ricordi
    • ni for set (2006), 17 mn, Peters
    • …auf… 1 for large orchestra (2005-2006), 12 mn, Peters
    • …auf… triptych for large orchestra (2005-2007), 50 mn, Peters
    • …auf… 2 for large orchestra (2006-2007), 16 mn, Peters
    • elec …auf… 3 for orchestra and electronics (2007), 22 mn, Peters
    • elec üg for ensemble and electronics (2008), 21 mn, Peters
    • …es… for set (2008), 21 mn, Peters
    • kar for strings (2008-2009), 14 mn, Peters
    • …hij… 1 for orchestra (2010), 23 mn, Peters
    • da for ensemble (2001-2011), 17 mn, Peters
    • Zwischenraum for set (2012), 30 mn, Peters
    • Az for ensemble (2013), 18 mn, Peters
    • riss 3 for set (2014), 21 mn, Peters
    • Echographie for orchestra (2016), 6 mn, Peters
    • riss 3 for set (2016), 26 mn, Peters
    • riss 1 for set (2016-2017), 16 mn, Peters
    • woher...wohin for orchestra (2015-2017), 21 mn, Peters
    • Drei Stücke for ensemble (2018), 14 mn, Peters
    • elec rwh 1 for ensemble and electronics (2019), 28 mn, Peters
  • Concert music
    • elec Le trou noir univers for orchestra, soloists and electronics (1992-1993), 33 mn, Peters
    • an for violin and orchestra (2014-2015), 23 mn, Peters
    • elec über for clarinet and orchestra and live electronics (2015), 37 mn, Peters
    • ...hin... for harp and orchestra (2018), 21 mn, Peters
    • ...hin... for harp and ensemble (2020), 21 mn, Peters
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • ein abgrund for viola, cello and baritone (1992), 16 mn, Peters
    • kontra-etüde for voice, cello or double bass and bassoon (2001), 16 mn, Peters
    • elec stage …22,13… Musiktheater-Passion in three parts, for seven singers, four instrumental groups and electronics (1999-2004), Durand
    • elec wunderzaichen opera (2013), 2 h, Peters
  • A cappella vocal music
    • elec …hij… 2 for twenty-four voices and electronics (2012), 37 mn, Peters
    • ensof for mixed choir (2014), 41 mn, Peters
    • 3 for six voices (2015), 23 mn, Peters
  • 2020
    • ...hin... for harp and ensemble, 21 mn, Peters
  • 2019
    • elec rwh 1 for ensemble and electronics, 28 mn, Peters
  • 2018
  • 2017
    • Atemwind for clarinet, 12 mn, Peters
    • iv 13 miniature for string quartet, 21 mn, Peters
    • riss 1 for set, 16 mn, Peters
    • woher...wohin for orchestra, 21 mn, Peters
  • 2016
  • 2015
    • 3 for six voices, 23 mn, Peters
    • S2 for percussion, 23 mn, Peters
    • elec S3 for piano and electronics, 21 mn, Peters
    • an for violin and orchestra, 23 mn, Peters
    • iv 11c for solo piano, Peters
    • elec über for clarinet and orchestra and live electronics, 37 mn, Peters
  • 2014
    • ensof for mixed choir, 41 mn, Peters
    • iv 13a miniature for string quartet, 2 mn, Peters
    • iv 14 for two guitars, 11 mn, Peters
    • riss 3 for set, 21 mn, Peters
  • 2013
    • Az for ensemble, 18 mn, Peters
    • e 2 for cello and double bass, 12 mn, Peters
    • iv 12 for soprano saxophone, 14 mn, Peters
    • elec wunderzaichen opera, 2 h, Peters
  • 2012
    • S1 for two pianos, 26 mn, Peters
    • Zwischenraum for set, 30 mn, Peters
    • e for solo cello, 13 mn, Peters
    • iv 5 for solo oboe, 8 mn, Peters
    • elec …hij… 2 for twenty-four voices and electronics, 37 mn, Peters
  • 2011
    • da for ensemble, 17 mn, Peters
    • iv 11a for solo piano, 4 mn, Peters
    • iv 11b for solo piano, 4 mn, Peters
  • 2010
    • iv 1 for solo piano, 19 mn, Peters
    • iv 6a for solo trumpet, 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 6b for solo trumpet, 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 8 for string trio, 17 mn, Peters
    • iv 9 for wood trio, 3 mn, Peters
    • …hij… 1 for orchestra, 23 mn, Peters
  • 2009
    • iv 4 for flute, oboe, clarinet and tuba, 6 mn, Peters
    • iv 7 for solo double bass clarinet, 8 mn, Peters
    • kar for strings, 14 mn, Peters
  • 2008
    • elec üg for ensemble and electronics, 21 mn, Peters
    • …es… for set, 21 mn, Peters
  • 2007
    • iv 2 for solo cello, 10 mn, Peters
    • iv 3 for solo clarinet, 10 mn, Peters
    • …auf… triptych for large orchestra, 50 mn, Peters
    • …auf… 2 for large orchestra, 16 mn, Peters
    • elec …auf… 3 for orchestra and electronics, 22 mn, Peters
  • 2006
    • ni for set, 17 mn, Peters
    • …auf… 1 for large orchestra, 12 mn, Peters
    • elec …hoc… for cello and live electronics, 17 mn, Peters
  • 2005
  • 2004
    • asche for five instruments, 15 mn, Ricordi
    • elec stage …22,13… Musiktheater-Passion in three parts, for seven singers, four instrumental groups and electronics, Durand
  • 2001
    • kontra-etüde for voice, cello or double bass and bassoon, 16 mn, Peters
    • …als… I for bass clarinet, cello and piano, 18 mn, Peters
    • elec …als… II for bass clarinet, cello, piano and live electronics, 21 mn, Ricordi
  • 2000
    • Modell for five orchestral groups (69 musicians), 45 mn, Durand
    • kanon for double bass clarinet, double bass and piano, 15 mn, Peters
  • 1999
    • Contrapunctus for piano, 11 mn, Durand
    • Kenosis for wind trio, 20 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
  • 1998
  • 1997
    • ab I for ensemble, 15 mn, Peters
    • elec ab II for ensemble and live electronics, 31 mn, Peters
  • 1996
    • un-fini for set, 15 mn, Carus verlag
  • 1995
  • 1993
  • 1992
    • Mise en abîme II, 20 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Pièces noires for harp, trombone, bass clarinet and cello, 10 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • ein abgrund for viola, cello and baritone, 16 mn, Peters
  • 1991

Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en août 2020).


  • Mark ANDRE, « Un coup de dés » dans Cahiers du CIREM, Claude Ballif, Rouen, 1993.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Utopies » dans Cahiers de l’Ircam nº 4, Paris, 1993.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Dialogie compositionnelle » dans Revue de l’Université et du Centre Interdisciplinaire de l’Université de Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 1994.
  • Mark ANDRE, Du paradigme de complexité dans “l’Ars subtilior”, mémoire de DEA à l’ENS, Paris, 1994.
  • Mark ANDRE, « L’œuvre théorique de Johannes Ciconia » dans Revue liégeoise de musicologie, 1996.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Harmonie et compossible musical » dans Revue Conférence, Orléans-Meaux, 1997.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Das Werk Jean Barraqué » dans Musik & Ästhetik, Heft 9, 1998, p. 109-113.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Die Frage nach der Architektur des Komponierens » dans Musik & Ästhetik, Heft 13, 1999, p. 62-67.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Computer-assisted musical composition and creation of a compositional model » dans The Foundations of Contemporary Composing, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (Hrsg.), Hofheim, Wolke Verlag, coll. « New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century, Bd.3 », 2004, p. 159-164.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Concerning the morphology of the constituent materials of “… IN …”, for amplified clarinet » dans Musical Morphology, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Frank Cox, Wolfram Schurig, (Hrsg.), Hofheim, Wolke Verlag, coll. « New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century, Bd.2 », 2004, p. 22-33.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Kasparows Passion. Der Komponist Mark Andre im Gespräch über sein Musiktheater-Werk “… 22,13 …”, dans Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, n° 165, 2004, p. 42-45.
  • Mark ANDRE, « von Osten und von Western, von Norden und von Süden… (für Helmut zum 70. Geburtstag) » dans auf (-) und zuhören. 14 essayistische Reflexionen über die Musik und die Person Helmut Lachenmanns, Hans-Peter Jahn (Hrsg.), Hofheim, Wolke Verlag, 2005, p. 195-209.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Die Schwelle als möglisches Gestaltungsmittel beim Komponieren » dans Sinnbildungen. Spirituelle Dimensionen in der Musik heute, Jörn Peter Hiekel (Hrsg.), Mainz, Schott Music, 2008, p. 107-123.
  • Mark ANDRE, « Einige Anmerkungen zum Begriff kompositorischer Zwischenraum » dans Musik-Kulturen. Texte der 43. Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik 2006, Jörn Peter Hiekel (Hrsg.), coll. « Darmstädter Dikurse, Bd. 2 », 2006, p. 157-160.
  • Luca CONTI, « (De)konstruktion und (De)fragmentation in AB II von Mark Andre », Musik & Ästhetik, Heft 13, 2000, p. 67-79*.*
  • Laurent FENEYROU, « Seuils : autour du triptyque …auf… de Mark Andre », Circuit, vol. 21, no 1, 2011, p. 23-35.
  • Frank HILBERG, « Musikcricri: zum wunderlichen Reden über Mark Andre “wunderzaichen” », dans Musik-Texte, Heft 141, 2014, p. 25-28.
  • Helmut LACHENMANN, « Präzision und Utopie. Die Musik des Komponisten Mark Andre lässt das Zuhören zum hören werden » dans Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 169, 2008 p. 14-16
  • Denis LABORDE, « Mark Andre, lumières d’hiver » Accents Online, 2014 (lien vérifié en août 2020).
  • Kai Johannes POLZHOFER, « Die Vermittlung von Expressivität und Introversion : Mark Andre iv 2 für Violoncello solo », Musik & Ästhetik, Heft 69, 2014, p. 34-51.
  • Lou MADJAR, « Le temps déchiré. Entretien avec Mark Andre », Accents Online, 25 septembre 2019 (lien vérifié en août 2020).
  • Michael REBHAHN, « Präzision und Utopie : der Komponiste Mark Andre », Dissonance/Dissonanz, 2010, n° 109, p. 26-28.
  • Martine SEEBER, « Reisen nach innen … : Zur Musik des französischen Komponisten Mark Andre », Positionen, 75, 2008, p. 46-49.
  • Ulrich TADDAY (éd.), « Mark Andre », Musik-Konzepte, Heft 167, 2015.
  • Jean-Noël VON DER WEID, « Speigelschach. Prétexte inactuel autour de Mark André », Dissonance, n° 74, avril 2002.
  • Jean-Noël VON DER WEID, « Mark André. Portrait d’un compositeur en habit de silence », Musica Falsa, n° 19, automne 2003, p. 58-63.
  • Jean-Noël VON DER WEID, « L’infini dans la plénitude de sa fin » dans La musique du XXe siècle, Hachette littérature, 2010, p. 668-673.


  • Mark ANDRE, Hij 1 ; Hij 2, dans « Hij », 1 CD Wergo, 2019, WER73792.
  • Mark ANDRE, … auf …: triptych for large orchestra, Experimentalstudio des SWR, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Sylvain Cambreling, direction, 1 cd Wergo, 2014, WER 7322.
  • Mark ANDRE, Piano Music: S1 ; un-fini III; iv 11a ; iv 11b ; contrapunctus ; iv 1, Tomoko Hemmi, Yukiko Sugawara : piano, 1 cd Wergo, 2013, WER 3783.
  • Mark ANDRE, …22,13..., Vocalconsort Berlin, ensemble work in progress, Berlin, direction : Gerhardt Müller-Goldboom, Expermimentalstudio des SWR, 2 cds NEOS, 2012, 11067-68.
  • Mark ANDRE, iv 4 ; Contrapunctus ; Zum staub sollst du zurückkehren ; iv 3 ; iv 2, Ensemble alternance, 1 cd Stradivarius, 2010, STR 33837.
  • Mark ANDRE, durch …zu… ; …in ; …als ; …II, Trio Accanto, ensemble recherche, Shizuyo Oka : clarinette basse, 1 cd Kairos, 2008, 0012732KAI.
  • Mark ANDRE, Un-Fini I ; Asche ; Ein Abgrund ; …in…, ensemble Alternance, 1 cd 3D Classics, 2005.
  • Mark ANDRE, Ein Abgrund, Ensemble SurPlus, 1 cd Solitude, 70.
  • Mark ANDRE, Un-Fini, Jürg Wyttenbach, Ensemble Modern, coffret « Donaueschinger Musiktage 1996 » Col Legno, WWE 20008.
  • Mark ANDRE, Ab II, ensemble recherche, 3 cds Col Legno : « 25 Years Experimentalstudio Freiburg », WWE 20025, 1998.
  • Mark ANDRE, Un-Fini IIIA, Eric Huebner, piano, 2 cds « Darmstadt 1998 » Col Legno, WWE 20055.
  • Mark ANDRE, Modell, Lothar Zagrosek, SWR-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, « Donaueschinger Musiktage 2000 » cd Col Legno, WWE 2020.