updated 16 June 2021

Georges Aperghis

French composer of Greek descent born 23 December 1945 in Athens, Greece.

Georges Aperghis was born in 1945 in Athens, Greece. Both of his parents were artists - his father a sculptor and his mother a painter - and Aperghis hesitated for a long time between the visual arts and composition. Essentially self-taught, Aperghis discovered music by listening to the radio and through piano lessons with a family friend.

Upon moving Paris in 1963, Aperghis discovered serialism through the Domaine Musical, along with the musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, and the research of Iannis Xenakis, whose work inspired Aperghis’ own early work. By 1970, however, the composer had begun working in his own, much freer language.

La Tragique Histoire du nécromancien Hiéronimo et de son miroir, his first musical theater composition, was written in 1971. The tight link between music, text, and stage that featured in this work is one he has continued exploring in his pursuit of original forms of musical narrative. In 1976, Aperghis founded ATEM (Atelier théâtre et musique), a musical theater company housed first in Bagnolet and then at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre (from 1992 to 1997). He returned to composing, which, as he puts it, must “make music of everything,” while continuing to invent new approaches to his work, which includes musicians and singers alongside actors and visual artists. His works mix vocals, instrumentals, movement, narrative, and scenography in a uniquely expressive environment. His Récitations (1978) for solo soprano explores every human emotion and expression. Musical development and the emergence of a signifying language, captured as they emerge and moving forward as one through the repetition of snippets of text and sound and arranged as a game of construction, play with expectations and with the senses. Many of his musical theater pieces follow this path, including the opera Je vous dis que je suis mort (1978), the sextet L’Origine des espèces (1992), and Machinations (2000).

For Aperghis, opera is the culmination and the coming-together of his experimental work, in which the text is the unifying and determining element and voice the main vector of expression. He has composed a total of eight lyric works, including Avis de Tempête (2004), which premiered at the Opéra de Lille and received the Grand Prix de la Critique in 2005.

He has also composed numerous instrumental, chamber, vocal, and orchestral pieces. Even his instrumental music incorporates theatrical and verbal elements, a feature echoed in some titles, such as Quatre Récitations for cello (1980).

His catalogue includes over a hundred works. He premiered two pieces in 2000, which were heard across Europe: Die Hamletmaschine-Oratorio, based on a text by Heiner Müller, and Machinations, a musical performance commissioned by the IRCAM, for which the SACEM awarded him the prize of “Best Premiere of the Year.”

In 2004, in addition to the opera Avis de Tempête, he composed Dark side, based on Aeschylus’ Oresteia. His Wölfli Kantata premiered in the summer of 2006, based on texts by Adolf Wölfi, as well as Contretemps. Le petit poucet, based on the Charles Perrault tale and composed in collaboration with videographer and sculptor Hans Op de Beeck premiered in December 2007. In May 2010, the Opéra comique de Paris premiered Les Boulingrin, an opéra-bouffe directed by Jérôme Deschamps, based on a libretto by Georges Courteline. June 2011 saw the premiere of Luna Park, commissioned by the IRCAM/Pompidou Center and the Warsaw Autumn Festival, based on a text by François Regnault, a drama that portrayed the conflict betwen two worlds, one real and the other virtual. In 2012 and 2014, he wrote a series of Six Études for large orchestra (commissioned by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk and the Musica Festival Strasbourg), and in 2016, his Concerto pour accordéon premiered at Musica Viva, performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Emilio Pomarico.

Georges Aperghis was awarded the Mauricio Kagel Music Prize 2011, a Venice Biennale Golden Lion in 2015, and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Contemporary Music in 2016.

In 2018, he was a featured guest at the IRCAM ManiFeste festival for the premiere of his work Thinking Things and for the French premiere of Obstinate, for solo double base.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2021


Site de Georges Aperghis, Antoine Gindt.

By Jean-François Trubert

“A. I imply B.”1

Georges Aperghis has built up an extensive body of work across multiple genres. Stage music, musical theater, operas, and instrumental pieces — the last still commonly described as “pure” music, demarcating it from the rest — are just some of the genres he has produced. Aperghis is a dramatist, a composer, and, at times, a pedagogue. His works are informed by a deep sense of questioning and are devoid of any message, advice, or definitive statement on a potential truth. Their questions often translate into a flurry of activity, in which each fragment interrogates a new aspect of the problem.

Aperghis explains that his piece Commentaires (1996) is a “kind of circuit, a machine spinning like a carousel and revealing the facets of a body made up of all those events.”2 His reference to a machine provides the framework for another of his compositions, Machinations (2000). Yet, Aperghis’s work exhibits his meticulous struggle against mechanization and reflexes of any kind, which he calls “clichés”: “Above all, most of my work is about avoiding clichés and stereotypes […]. The first stage of development is this process of fighting against clichés.”3

He both obliterates his subjects and makes them present at the same time, as evident in his constant engagement with language and play with phonemes. In Récitations, for example, he plays with fragmenting language in order to better grasp its substance. Indeed, one of the most prominent aspects of Aperghis’s output may well be that with whatever subject matter he works, he breaks it down into all its components so as to engage with extreme presence. He has grasped the ability of language to act as a structure, as well as the ability of verbal intention — that is, words, interjections, and the combination of word and gesture — to be a primary element of theatrical performance. Borrowing from writing, he uses the devices of splintering, fragmentation, permutation, and repetition, as laid out by musicologist Daniel Durney4 and as they appear in Aperghis’s collected texts Zig-Bang.5 Verbal intention conveys an outlook on the world, even when the meaning of the sounds is stripped away: “Gouinzabbeviliennaguë vémabordail.”6 In abolishing the rules of syntax and dissolving meaning, Aperghis revives a quality of uttering as described by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of Perception:

The phonetic gesture structures the experience and modulates the existence of the speaking subject and those who listen, just like a behavior of my body invests for me and for others the objects that surround me with a certain meaning.7

Accordingly, as in Cinq Couplets (1988) for soprano and double bass clarinet, to speak is to structure, to animate the body is to state. Merging sound and movement is certainly paramount in musical theater. Aperghis writes:

Through all these dynamic pulverizations, we are witnessing a possible polyphony consisting of multiple micro-languages that can bring on physical or emotive energy by causing violent collisions between the meaning of an image or sound and a purely formal meaning.8

“His muscles provide a gesture, a clear gesture”9

Aperghis is a man of situations. He has a way of bringing a situation into the present, giving his work a scenic quality that he has explored ever since his early works presented at the Avignon Festival. Whether it is musical, theatrical, or visual, this situation is meant to bring the audience into observation and discovery. The situation is posed as an entity in itself, as it brings into play protagonists or symbols. Example situations include male dominance in Fidélité (1982), mobile music in Musical Box (1970), the death of a composer in Oraison funèbre (1971), baroque oratorio according to Handel in Vesper (1971), Bach cantatas in BWV (1973), harassment and power in Rire physiologique (1982), behavioral disfunction in Les Sept crimes de l’amour (1979), and a story tinged with Freudian symbolism in Histoire de loups (1976). The Atelier Théâtre et Musique (ATEM), which Aperghis founded in 1976,10 is a situation in multiple senses. It is first of all a geographical situation: the ATEM is located in one of the housing project high-rises in Bagnolet, France, where it is a space for collective creativity and interaction among the residents. The collective’s theatrical and musical work is based on group exercises and improvisations that center around the micro-dramas of everyday life and the stories imagined by the children who live there.11

Many of Aperghis’s situations do not force a preestablished script onto the work. They reject linear narrative and are rather absorbed by dramaturgy and setting. “I’d rather follow pieces of stories,” Aperghis says about Commentaires.12 He is an aggregator. He layers scenic and musical resources, and superimposes video and music, just as he works with multiple actors for the same character.

Each event occurring onstage is layered and connected. Each sequence can then be defined by its valence, or its ability to swap one or many constituents with the next sequence or another scene. The higher the valence, the more cohesive are all the parts, even when their arrangement may seem disarrayed. Indeed, the high-valence sequences facilitate remembering, an important concern for Aperghis: “How can I find the energy and make things recognizable so that the audience can play with memory?”13 Commenting on La Tragique histoire du nécromancien Hiéronimo et de son miroir (1971), Durney shows that this attitude traces back to Aperghis’s early works: “The composer has a very personal style of observation that is both surprising and roundabout. But its disconcerting quality is offset by the unique charm of distant connections.”14 As in the editing of a film, a medium to which Aperghis repeatedly refers, layering scenes that are logically or chronologically disconnected creates an assemblage that bears new or hidden meaning. Evan Rothstein refers to this as “indirect speech,” borrowing the concept from Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes: “juxtaposition that […] establishes unexpected lines of connection.”15 This tool also brings to mind a principle set out by Sergei Eisenstein in Montage 1938: “Two random fragments, spliced together, inevitably combine into something new that emerges from this juxtaposition.”16

In La Tragique histoire du nécromancien Hiéronimo et de son miroir, the stage elements are action, dialogue, and commentary. Each operates independently of the others and occurs at the same time. The fact of multiplying the possible readings of an event elevates the commentary to poetry. It also transposes to the theater what was noted above about language: to break up the stage action is to assert it. To arrange actions on several simultaneous levels is to link gestures that structure our experience across an even wider register and create a connection between oneself and the world.

About Die Hamletmaschine-oratorio, Aperghis writes,

The text doesn’t require any music. It only requires a state to tell it. A bodily state of a dancer who will locate it, as well as a written state, written by me: range, speed, breath, spoken, or not spoken…17

From Pandæmonium (1973) to Dans le mur (2007), Aperghis writes out these states and steps. It is within this writing process that the structuring of experience takes shape.

“B. I imply C”18

Aperghis does not assume total control during the creative act. He is willing to give the work a degree of autonomy, almost as if it had a will of its own: “It all depends on the piece,” he writes.19 He provides the starting material but does not impose a course of direction, building up the composition piecemeal: “I’ve often written pieces with no beginning or end, meaning I would come in for rehearsal with about a hundred little scenes, but I didn’t know which one came first, which one was second.”20 There are various ways of arranging a piece, whether working from a libretto or script, or working with the actors, singers, or instrumentalists. Sextuor (1992) was developed in rehearsal, as was Commentaires. Aperghis describes the rehearsals this way: “They improvise … I tell them stories, what I wish would happen basically, and then they start working within those parameters and propose things.” In these settings, “the music hinges upon the other elements, whether it is the text, the lighting, the acting, or the positions of the actors on stage.”21

But it is important to maintain, even on a subconscious or symbolic level, some overall consistency within the ensemble: “The mosaic needs to live, and this implies a chemistry that moves through the scenes.” That chemistry originates from the compositional procedures that proliferate an idea or break apart the initial situation(s). It would be inaccurate to consider fragmentation as antithetical to composing. Fragmentation indicates an action external to the object, which negatively constructs. In Aperghis’s work, this negative construction occurs through a series of compositional techniques that allow units of time to be broken up and randomly rearranged. Performers can also permute various elements, as in 280 mesures pour clarinette (1979), and generalize certain structural principles, as in major works such as Récitations, Vesper, and Je vous dis que je suis mort (1978).

In Récitations, Je vous dis que je suis mort, and Machinations, multiple operations on the text and the music happen concurrently, bringing the text’s musicality into focus. The erosion of a sentence, the verbigeration, or the numerous operations performed on the text or libretto bring text into the realm of music, with erosion or accumulation of melodic phrases, breaks, rhythmic effects, and symmetries. Rhythmic symmetry is used in Je vous dis que je suis mort, and symmetries of the basic musical material in Vesper.22 These operations allow musical ideas to regenerate. As Pascal Decroupet notes about Karlheinz Stockhausen, permutation is the consequence of a “general aesthetic intention to show an unchanging universe in ever changing lights.”23 In this respect, Aperghis ultimately achieves a result not far removed from serialism:

What I was most interested in was how the [serial] system produced random events that didn’t make it possible to immediately control the entirety of the work. But soon enough, I realized I could get the same result with my own resources.24

“Jingle, rustle, creak, static”25

Over the whole of Aperghis’s output, his path took a series of clear turns. His later compositions move toward twenty-first-century aesthetics. While earlier pieces, such as La Tragique histoire du nécromancien Hiéronimo et de son miroir (1971), feature melodic and rhythmic associations and disassociations, the later pieces are built on complex materials and layers or blocks of very different kinds of sound. Acoustics may supersede arrangement, and movement, sound, space, and image are aggregated into sound hyperobjects — an augmented expérience concrète.26

Aperghis, who claims to share a lineage with John Cage and Mauricio Kagel, has successfully assimilated the “musical body” within the act of composing. The musical body acts within the gap left between the writing and its application onstage. In Avis de tempête (2004), the body of the dancer-actress develops gesture, voice, and image. In Machinations, the hands of the diseuses are projected on a large screen as they manipulate elements, while their voices are filtered through processors. “Instead of resulting from will or the manipulation of structures,” Aperghis says, “composition results from a struggle between those structures and the behavior of the performer in the production. And the premier performer is me, because I refuse to wear the straitjacket of the system. I fight it.”27 Such an attitude is certainly clear in his work, in his undetermined arrangements in which sections can be swapped around and new sequences are created by accumulation or erosion (Conversations, 1985).

In his late productions, from Machinations to Dans le mur by way of Avis de tempête, Aperghis pursues a new challenge, creating additional layers in the performance through the body using real-time electronics and video. In Luna Park (2011), sensors and accelerometer gloves enable the performer to modify language in real time through gesture. Hand movements, for example, bring about changes in the instrumentalists’ live vocalizations. Aperghis works with electronics as if they are actual matter, as in Dans le mur, where he sees electronic equipment as something to grapple with. “I don’t like the idea of the device being an extension of the singer or the instrumentalist,” he said in an interview. “To me it’s more like something that creates conflict.”28 Thus, interactions between the indicated sounds and the performer’s body create a gestural quality in the music, as in Dark Side (2003). In these pieces, bodies move the sound, connecting within the music and suggesting another issue.

In time-bound art forms such as music and performance, a basic question lies in knowing whether the core elements of the form, including the text or narrative, are preestablished and arranged from outside, or are structured intrinsically by rules of composition derived, perhaps, from their starting materials. The composer can arrange sequences of music around a particular text. Or the composer can observe as a composition forms — similar to how a living organism comes into being or a school of fish gathers — as sounds, gestures, and actions, as in post-dramatic theater, result from forces in the moment. In one case, the form preexists and dictates its constraints. In the other, the form results from forces and constraints triggered at the event’s beginning. This is the shift in Aperghis’s work in recent years. The sonic and gestural results he produces have increasingly influenced structure and foundation, because they are either aleatoric or complex. Aperghis, a musical body, consistently pursues a premise he formulated several years ago: “No libretto, but a score.”29

1. Excerpt from the libretto of Machinations (2000) by Georges APERGHIS, in Peter SZENDY, ed., Machinations de Georges Aperghis, Paris, Ircam-L’Harmattan, 2001, p. 117.
2. Georges APERGHIS, a 1996 interview for the film Sans commentaires by Jean-Paul MATTHIEU. [Translator’s note: The interview used to be available at http://www.aperghis.com/images/video2.html, but seems to have since been taken down].
3. Georges APERGHIS, interviewed by Nicolas DONIN and Jean-François TRUBERT, “Noyaux, matrices, oignons (… et corbeille),” Genesis 31, p. 67.
4. Daniel DURNEY has dedicated much of his research to the work of Aperghis. His thesis, Les compositions scéniques de Georges Aperghis, une écriture dramatique de la musique (Professorial thesis, EHESS, 1996), can be downloaded from Aperghis’s website: http://www.aperghis.com/lire/durney-aperghis.zip.
5. Georges APERGHIS, Zig-Bang, Paris, P.O.L, 2004.
6. Ibid., p. 58.
7. Maurice MERLEAU-PONTY, Phénoménologie de la perception, Paris, Gallimard, 1945, p. 235.
8. Georges APERGHIS, “Quelques réflexions sur le théâtre musical,” in Antoine GINDT, ed., Georges Aperghis, le corps musical, Arles, Actes Sud, 1990, p. 63.
9. Excerpt from Conversations (1985) in APERGHIS, Zig-Bang.
10. Read his biography on the brahms.ircam.fr database, as well as the biographical note by Antoine GINDT on Aperghis’s website: https://www.aperghis.com/biographies.html.
11. Georges APERGHIS, “Georges Aperghis et l’ATEM: Interview by Michel Rostain,” Musique en jeu, vol. 30, 1978, p. 86.
12. APERGHIS, interview by MATTHIEU.
13. APERGHIS, “Noyaux, matrices, oignons (… et corbeille),” p. 69.
14. DURNEY, Les compositions scéniques de Georges Aperghis, p. 61.
15. Evan ROTHSTEIN, “Le théâtre musical d’Aperghis: un sommaire provisoire,” in Laurent FENEYROU, ed., Musique et dramaturgie, esthétique de la représentation au XXe siècle, Paris, Presses de la Sorbonne, 2003, p. 482.
16. Sergueï EISENSTEIN, “Montage 1938,” (translated by Bernadette DUCREST) in Steven BERNAS, ed., Montage créatif et processus esthétique d’Eisenstein, coll. Champs visuels, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2008, p. 188.
17. Georges Aperghis, “Parallèles (2): Hamletmaschine,” in Peter Szendy, ed., Machinations de Georges Aperghis, p. 104.
18. Excerpt from Machinations (2000), p. 117.
19. Georges APERGHIS, paper given on 24 March 2011, at the Centre de documentation de la musique contemporaine. Visit http://www.cdmc.asso.fr.
20. APERGHIS, “Noyaux, matrices, oignons (… et corbeille),” p. 69.
21. Ibid.
22. Daniel DURNEY, “La règle du jeu,” in Georges Aperghis, le corps musical, p. 215.
23. Pascal DECROUPET, “Varèse, la série et la métaphore acoustique,” in Max PADDISON and Irène DELIEGE, eds, Musique contemporaine, Mardaga, 2001, p. 172.
24. Georges APERGHIS, “Entretien avec Georges Aperghis, par Philippe Albéra,” in Philippe ALBERA, ed., Musiques en création, Geneva, Contrechamps, 1997, p. 17.
25. APERGHIS, “Énumération (1): notes sur la diction dans Machinations (1999)” in Machinations de Georges Aperghis, p. 43.
26. Aperghis is alluding to Pierre Schaeffer’s musique concrète and idea of the sound object set out in his writings.
27. APERGHIS, “Entretien avec Georges Aperghis, par Philippe Albéra,” p. 19.
28. APERGHIS, “Noyaux, matrices, oignons (… et corbeille),” p. 73.
29. APERGHIS, “Quelques réflexions sur le théâtre musical,” p. 63.

Translation by Jean-Charles Ladurelle

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2011

  • Solo (excluding voice)
  • Chamber music
    • Kryptogramma for six percussionists (1970), 20 mn, Durand
    • Pièce pour deux violoncelles (1970), 12 mn, Salabert
    • Mouvement pour quintette for five instrumentalists (1975), 13 mn, Salabert
    • Études d'harmoniques for two violins and cello (1976), 4 mn, Durand
    • Signaux for quartet of instruments of the same timbre and the same range (1978), 11 mn, Salabert
    • Musiques et variantes de la « Pièce perdue » trio for recorder, clarinet, percussions and various materials (1979), 13 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • stage Les jeteurs de sorts musical theater for two instruments of your choice (1980), 30 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • stage Les Guetteurs de sons musical theater for three percussionists (1981), 17 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • stage Compagnie - Tryptique n° 2 for harp and percussion (1982), 20 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Dix pièces pour quatuor à cordes (1986), 33 mn, Salabert
    • À bout de bras for clarinet and oboe (1989), 5 mn, Salabert
    • Triangle carré for string quartet and percussion trio (1989), 20 mn, Salabert [program note]
    • Cinq Pièces for espérou and cello (1994), 10 mn, Durand
    • Faux Mouvement for string trio (1995), 12 mn, Durand
    • Quatre Pièces fébriles for marimba and piano (1995), 17 mn, Durand
    • Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (1996), 15 mn, Durand
    • Crosswind for viola and saxophone quartet (1997), 15 mn, Durand
    • Façade-trio for two bass clarinets and percussion (1998), 15 mn, Durand
    • Profils for cello and zarb (1998), 12 mn, Durand
    • Requiem furtif for violin and claves (1998), 7 mn, Durand
    • Rasch version I, for violin and viola (1997-2001), 6 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur [program note]
    • Rasch version II, for saxophone and alto (1997-2001), 6 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur [program note]
    • Alter-Face for two pianos (2004), 14 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur [program note]
    • Fuzzy trio for violin, piano and percussion (2008), 10 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • L'Iliade, l'Odyssée two miniatures for clarinet and violin (2008), 6 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Quartet Movement for string quartet (2008), 7 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Jeu à quatre educational piece for alto saxophone quartet (2009), 4 mn 45 s, Alphonse Leduc
    • Triple for flute, clarinet and trumpet (2010), 6 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Trio for piano, violin and cello (2012), 13 mn, édition du compositeur
    • Retrouvailles for two actor percussionists (2013)
    • Trio Funanbule for piano, saxophone and percussion (2014), 14 mn, édition du compositeur
    • Wind Waves for wind quintet (2015), 30 mn, édition du compositeur
  • Instrumental ensemble music
  • Concertant music
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • elec stage La Tragique Histoire du nécromancien Hiéronimo et de son miroir musical theater for puppets, actress, mezzo-soprano, lute, cello and tape (1971), 30 mn, Durand
    • stage Oraison funèbre musical theater for singers, actor and ensemble (1971), 30 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Vesper Oratorio by George Frederik Händel, for seven voices and ensemble (1971), 30 mn, Durand
    • elec Concerto grosso for three singers, actress, ensemble and tape (1971-1972), 50 mn, Durand
    • B.W.V for six singers and ensemble (1973), 17 mn, Salabert
    • stage Pandaemonium opera for voice, four actors and seven instrumentalists (1973), 1 h 35 mn, Salabert
    • elec stage De la Nature de l'eau musical theater for six singers, two actors, percussion and piano (1974), 17 mn, Salabert
    • stage Jacques le Fataliste opera in three acts, for eight solo voices, mixed choir and large ensemble (1974), 2 h 10 mn, Salabert
    • elec Sports et rebondissements for six singers, actors, instrumental ensemble and magnetic tape (1974), 25 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Il gigante golia for soprano and orchestra (1990, 1975), 10 mn, Salabert
    • Les Lauriers sont coupés for two voices and five instrumentalists (1975), 20 mn, Salabert
    • Quatuor for violin, viola, cello, bass voice or horn (1975), 12 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Récitatif de concours for five performers (1975), 9 mn, Salabert
    • Exercices, Variantes educational exercises around the music of La Bouteille à la mer (1976), 1 h 40 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • stage Histoire de loups opera (1976), 2 h 15 mn, Salabert
    • La Bouteille à la mer workbooks for soprano, six actors and four instrumentalists (1976), 1 h 40 mn, pas d'éditeur
    • stage Fragments Journal d'un Opéra, musical theater (1977), 30 mn, Salabert
    • stage Quai n° 1 musical theater (1978), 19 mn, Salabert
    • stage Je vous dis que je suis mort opera, for seven solo voices and ensemble (1978-1979), 46 mn, Salabert
    • stage Les Sept crimes de l'amour musical theater for a film by Michel Fano, for soprano, clarinet and percussion (1979), 12 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • stage De la Nature de la gravité musical show after Leonardo da Vinci, for seven singers, two actors, trumpet and percussion (1979-1980), 30 mn, Salabert
    • Un Musée de l'homme for voice, choir and orchestra (1982), Inédit
    • Le Rire physiologique for baritone and pianist (1983), 8 mn, Salabert
    • stage L'Écharpe rouge opera, for five main singers, sixteen secondary singers, three percussions and two pianos (1984), 2 h 40 mn, Salabert
    • Rock-Roll extract from Bal de la Contemporaine, for voice and ensemble (1984), 8 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • stage Conversations musical theater (1985), 48 mn, Inédit
    • stage Faust et Rangda Franco-Balinese musical theater for voices, percussion trio and gamelan (1987)
    • Liebestod oratorio for two actors, eleven singers and nine instrumentalists (1981-1987), 2 h 25 mn, Salabert
    • Cinq Couplets for soprano and contrabass clarinet (1988), 20 mn, Salabert
    • stage Enumérations musical theater for six musicians-actors (1988)
    • Déclamations for baritone, contrabass clarinet and orchestra (1990), 17 mn, Durand
    • stage Jojo musical theater (1990), 1 h 10 mn, pas d'éditeur
    • La Fable des continents music for the eponymous film by Hugo Santiago and Georges Aperghis, for bass voice and large orchestra (1990), pas d'éditeur
    • Tingel Tangel for soprano, cymbalum and accordion (1990), 35 mn, Durand
    • Simulacre I for soprano, double bass clarinet and percussion (1991), 10 mn, Durand
    • Ritournelles for two baritones and nine instruments (1992), 12 mn, Durand
    • stage Sextuor - L'Origine des espèces musical theater for five female voices and cello (1992), 60 mn, Durand
    • L'Adieu for contralto and large orchestra (1992-1993), 12 mn, Durand
    • Simulacre II for soprano, bass clarinet, percussion and marimba (1994), 15 mn, Durand
    • Simulacre III for soprano, two clarinets and marimba (1994), 15 mn, Durand
    • stage Tristes Tropiques opera in four acts (1990-1995), 1 h 30 mn, Durand
    • stage Commentaires musical theater for two actors, baritone, cello, piano and viola (1996), 1 h 15 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • stage Entre chien et loup musical theater for soprano, actor and five instrumentalists (1999), 60 mn, Durand
    • stage Zwielicht musical theater for soprano, actor and five instrumentalists (1999), 60 mn, Durand
    • Die Hamletmaschine-oratorio for choir, ensemble, soprano, baritones, percussion and viola (1999-2000), 60 mn, Durand [program note]
    • La Nuit en tête for soprano and instrumental sextet (2000), 14 mn, Durand
    • Rasch version III, for voice and viola (1997-2001), 6 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur [program note]
    • stage Paysage sous surveillance musical theater (2002), 1 h 10 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Dark Side for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (2003), 30 mn, Durand
    • elec ircam stage Avis de Tempête opera, for ensemble, three singers, one actress and electronics (2004), 1 h 10 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Contretemps for soprano and ensemble (2006), 30 mn, Salabert [program note]
    • stage Zeugen for bass clarinet, alto saxophone, cymbalum, piano, accordion, soprano and actor (2007), 55 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Happiness Daily for soprano, mezzo-soprano and ensemble (2009), 30 mn, Durand
    • elec stage Les Boulingrin opera-bouffe for ensemble and four singers (2010), 1 h 10 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • elec ircam Luna Park musical theater (2011), Didascalia [program note]
    • Shot in the Dark for soprano and ensemble (2012), 17 mn, Durand
    • Le Soldat inconnu for baritone and ensemble (2013), 27 mn, Durand
    • Wild Romance for soprano and ensemble (2013), 16 mn, Durand
    • Migrants for two female voices, piano, three percussions and string orchestra (2016-2017), 25 mn, Durand
  • A cappella vocal music
    • stage Récitations for solo voice (1978), 38 mn, Salabert
    • stage Solo for an actress (1983), Inédit
    • Six Tourbillons for female voice (1989), 12 mn, Salabert
    • Monomanies seven melodies on 16th century French poems, for solo voice (1991), 10 mn, Durand
    • Cinq Calme-plats for female voice (1992), 10 mn, Durand
    • Rondo for soprano and mezzo-soprano (1994), 8 mn, Durand
    • elec ircam stage Machinations musical show for four women and computer (2000), 60 mn, Durand [program note]
    • Pub 1 & Pub 2 spoken and sung phonemes for solo soprano (2000), 3 mn, partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
    • Petrrohl for six solo voices (2001), 12 mn, Durand
    • Quatorze jactations for baritone (2001), 30 mn, Durand
    • Wölfli-Kantata oratorio in five movements, for mixed choir and vocal ensemble of six soloists (2005), 60 mn, Salabert [program note]
    • Passwords for six voices (2016), 10 mn, Durand
    • elec ircam stage Thinking Things a show for four performers, robotic extensions, video, light and electronics (2017-2018), between 55 mn and 60 mn about [program note]
  • Unspecified instrumentation
    • stage Self musical theater for five actors and musical machines (1981), 25 mn, partition retirée du catalogue
    • Strasbourg instantanés 39 educational pieces for various ensembles (1998-1999), Durand


Textes et extraits de livret

  • Georges Aperghis, Zig-Bang, Paris, P.O.L., 2004
  • Peter Szendy (éd.), Machinations de Georges Aperghis, Paris, Ircam-L’Harmattan, 2001.


  • Georges APERGHIS, « Noyaux, matrices, oignons (… et corbeille) », (entretien avec Nicolas Donin et Jean-François Trubert), Genesis, n° 31, 2011, p. 65-76.
  • La voix, le texte et les phonèmes dans l’œuvre de Georges Aperghis, séminaire du 24 mars 2011 au Centre de documentation de la musique contemporaine, coordination Laurent Feneyrou et Frédéric Durieux http://www.cdmc.asso.fr/
  • Georges APERGHIS, cinq dialogues publics sur la musique avec Abd Al Malik, Françoise Kubler, Alain Bashung, Joachim Montessuis, et le maître de chant du monastère Drepung Gomang (Tibet), dans Voix croisées, Actes du colloque au Conservatoire de Strasbourg le 29 novembre 2004, éditions du Conservatoire de Strasbourg, La Laiterie/Artefact Prl, 2007.
  • Georges APERGHIS, « Entretien avec Georges Aperghis, par Philippe Albéra », Musiques en création, (éd. P. Albéra), Genève, Contrechamps, 1997, p. 17.
  • Georges APERGHIS, « Georges Aperghis et l’ATEM », (entretien avec M. Rostain), Musique en jeu, n° 30, mars 1978, p. 82-90.


  • « Georges Aperghis, Avis de tempête » dans L’Inouï, revue de l’Ircam #1, Ircam - Centre Pompidou, édition Léo Scheer, 2005, contient un DVD-rom guide d’écoute multimédia de l’opéra.
  • Georges APERGHIS (dir.), ATEM, théâtre & musique [journal de l’ATEM, théâtre et musique au théâtre des Amandiers].
  • Georges APERGHIS, Peter SZENDY, Wonderland : La musique, recto verso, Bayard, coll. « Le rayon des curiosités », Paris, 2004.
  • Les cahiers du CIREM : Théâtre et musique, n° 4-5, 1987.
  • Daniel DURNEY, Les compositions scéniques de Georges Aperghis, Thèse de l’Habilitation à diriger des recherches, EHESS, 1996.
  • Antoine GINDT (éd.), Georges Aperghis, le corps musical, Arles, Actes Sud, 1990.
  • Antoine GINDT, « Sur les chemins d’Aperghis et de Kagel : introduction à l’analyse du théâtre musical », Analyse musicale n° 46, 2e trimestre 1992, p. 62.
  • Célia HOUDART, Georges Aperghis, Avis de tempête, journal d’une œuvre, Paris, Intervalles, 2007.
  • François REGNAULT, Aperghis littéral, article en ligne sur le site de George Aperghis (lien vérifié en juin 2011).
  • Evan ROTHSTEIN, « Le théâtre musical d’Aperghis : un sommaire provisoire », dans Laurent Feneyrou (éd.), Musique et dramaturgie, esthétique de la représentation au XXe siècle, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2003, p. 465-486, document pdf téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur

Discographie sélective

  • Georges APERGHIS, Les Secrets Élémentaires ; Conversations X ; Dans le Mur ; Pièce pour jeunes pianistes, Lenio Liatsou, piano, dans « Piano Music », 1 vinyle God Records, 2019, GOD46.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Concerto pour accordéon ;Études I-VI, Teodoro Anzellotti, accordéon, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, EmilioPomárico, direction, dans « Musica Viva 28 », 1 cd Neos, 2017, 11728.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Situations, Klangforum Wien, EmilioPomárico, direction, dans « Donaueschinger Musiktage 2013 », 4 cd Neos, 2014, 11411-14.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Wölfli-Kantata, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart ; SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart ; Marcus Creed, direction, 1 cd Cyprès, 2013, CYP5625.
  • Georges APERGHIS, « Teeter-totter » : Contrempts ; SEESAW ; Parlando ; Teeter-totter, Donatienne Michel-Dansac : soprano, Uli Fussenegger : contrebasse, Klangforum Wien, direction : Emilio Pomárico et Sylvain Cambreling, 1 cd Kairos, 2012, 0013222KAI.
  • Georges APERGHIS, « À Portée de Voix » : Calme plat ; Dialogue amoureux ; Simulacre 2 ; Rire physiologique ; Monomanies ; Fidélité ; Pub 1 et 2, Valérie Philippin, Ensemble Kiosk, 2 cd, Ameson, 2011.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Crosswind ; Alter ego ; Rasch ; Volte-face ; Signaux, ensemble de saxophones modulables XASAX : Serge Bertocchi, Jean-Michel Goury, Pierre-Stéphane Meugé, Marcus Weiss, alto : Geneviève Strosser, 1 cd Kairos, WDR 3, 2009, n° 0012342KAI.
  • Georges APERGHIS, « Works for piano », À Tombeau Ouvert ; Les Secrets Élémentaires ; Printmusic ; Pièce pour jeunes pianistes ; Simata, Nicolas Hodges : piano, 1 cd Neos, 2009, n° 10912.
  • Georges APERGHIS, 14 récitations pour voix seule, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, 1 cd col legno, 2007.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Récitations pour voix seule, Martine Viard, 1 cd Montaigne Auvidis, 1995, n° 782 007.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Triangle Carré, Arditti Quartet, Trio Le Cercle, arditti quartet edition, n° 10, 1 Cd Montaigne Auvidis n° 782 002.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Sextuor - L’origine des espèces, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, soprano, Françoise Degeorges, soprano, Valéry Joly, Mezzo-Soprano, Frédérique Wolf-Michaux, contralto, Elena Andreyev, violoncelliste, 1cd MFA 216004.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Simulacres ; Il gigante golia ; 280 mesures pour clarinette ; Sept Crimes de l’amour ; Cinq Couplets : À about de bras, Simulacres, Quatre pièces fébriles, Trio, Monomanies, Sept mélodies sur des poèmes français du XVI siècle, Ensemble Accroche Note, Françoise Kubler : soprano, Armand Angster : clarinettes, Emmanuel Séjourné : percussion, Michèle Renoul et Brigitte Foccroulle : piano, Christophe Beau : violoncelle, Denis Tempô et Oliver Vivarès : clarinette, Double Cd Accord n° ACRD4761635.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Petrrohl dans le Cd collectif : Alles Theater! New music for vocal soloists, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Stradivarius - STR33680.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Musique(s) de Chambre, Cinq pièces pour espérou et violoncelle ; Faux-mouvement ; Les secrets élémentaires ; Requiem furtif ; La nuit en tête, ensemble S:ic, Françoise Rivalland, dir., Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 020501.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Die Hamletmaschine-Oratorio, Georges Aperghis, Heiner Müller, ensemble Ictus, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, Georges-Elie Octors, dir., Françoise Kubler, Lionel Peintre, Romain Bischoff, Geneviève Strosser, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Cyprès, 2006, CYP560.
  • Georges APERGHIS, Avis de Tempête, Georges Aperghis, Peter Szendy, ensemble Ictus, Georges-Elie Octors, dir., Donatienne Michel-Dansac, Lionel Peintre, Romain Bischoff, Johanne Saunier, Sébastien Roux, Cyprès, 2006, CYP 5621.
  • Georges APERGHIS et François REGNAULT, Machinations, Olivier Pasquet, Sylvie Levesque, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, Geneviève. Strosser, Sylvie Sacoun, 1 cd Ircam - Centre Pompidou, Una Corda, Accord, 2003, n° 472916.


  • Catherine MAXIMOFF, Jean-Baptiste MATHIEU, Georges Aperghis, « Tempête sous un crâne » et « Le Petit Chaperon rouge », 1 DVD coproduction Ideale Audience et Les films du présent, 102 minutes, 2006.

Sites Internet

(liens vérifiés en juillet 2020)