updated 7 October 2014
© Jacqueline Salmon

Gilbert Amy

French composer and conductor born 29 August 1936 in Paris.

Although Gilbert Amy finished his secondary education at the top of his class and with highest distinction in philosophy, he opted for a career in music and entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where he studied with Simone Plé-Caussade, Henriette Puig-Roget, Darius Milhaud, and Olivier Messiaen.

A few years later, he met Pierre Boulez, who commissioned him to write Mouvements, to be performed in Darmstadt by the Domaine Musical in 1958. After that, his music was performed in the world’s most revered musical venues, including Donaueschingen, Darmstadt, Venic, Royan, Berlin, and Warsaw…

In 1967, he succeeded Pierre Boulez as the director of the Domaine Musical until it disbanded in 1974.

At the same time, Gilbert Amy pursued a career as a conductor in France and abroad, with an extensive repertoire. Among others, he conducted the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

In 1976, Amy founded the Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France, serving as its first conductor and artistic director until 1981, conducting nearly one hundred concerts and recordings with them, as well as multiple tours in France and abroad.

His teaching activities include the Acanthes conducting workshop in 1979 with György Ligeti. In 1982, he taught composition and musical analysis at Yale, and served as the director of the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique de Lyon from 1984 to 2000.

His prolific career as a performer, artistic director, and teacher did not keep Amy from composing continuously starting in the mid-1950s. His catalogue includes instrumental as well as chamber and ensemble music, but voice and text were always a strong focus in his work, starting with Œil de fumée in 1956, all the way to an opera, Le Premier Cercle, which premiered forty years later at the Opéra national de Lyon and was praised by critics as one of the most significant operatic works of its time in France. He also composed extensively for orchestra, with works that explored the organization of sound and space, which fascinated him throughout his career. Orchestrahl (1985-1989) is one of the most ambitious illustrations of this facet of his work.

In 1979, Gilbert Amy was awarded the Grand Prix National de la Musique. In 1983, he won the Grand Prix de la SACEM, in 1986 the Grand Prix musical de la Ville de Paris, in 1987 the Prix du disque de l’Academie Charles Cros, and in 1988 the Prix de la Critique dramatique et musicale for his Missa cum jubilo. In 2004, he was also awarded the Prix Cino del Duca for his entire oeuvre.


Gilbert Amy.

By Alain Poirier

As a composer, conductor (of the Nouvel orchestre philharmonique of Radio-France), director (of the Conservatoire de Lyon), teacher, and author of works about the music of our time, Gilbert Amy belongs to the generation that followed hard on the heels of Pierre Boulez — arriving on the scene just ten years later. Having studied with Olivier Messiaen, Amy succeeded Boulez at the Domaine musical. One could leap to the conclusion that in that admittedly difficult position, he simply followed in his elder’s footsteps, adopting a model that he settled for continuing. Yet the comparison, which has drawn far too much attention, stops there. Amy actually succeeded at creating a highly personal discourse while also going through the same stages as many other composers from the 1950s: serialism, writing “open-form” works, and seeking an original form for each of his new works, which he conceived and designed spatially.

Amy was impressed by Messiaen’s teaching and, after making a few attempts at serialism that still bore the hallmarks of neo-Romanticism and twentieth-century French music (he identified his 1956 piece Œil de fumée [Smoke Eye] as his “opus 1”), he finally succeeded with Movements, written for Domaine musical in 1958 at Boulez’s request. Written two years later, his Piano Sonata was strongly influenced by Boulez, and specifically Boulez’s Third Sonata: Amy’s second movement, “Mutations,” was printed on large panels with six colors/pathways from which each pianist must choose and build their own interpretation. Open-form work held sway in his Epigrammes for piano and his two Inventions (1961), in the arrangement of Cycle for six percussionists (1966), in the six sections of Relais (Relay, brass quintet, 1967), and even up until the two pianos’ first cadence in D’un espace déployé (From an Unfolded Space, 1971-1972). A piece that is both key and pivotal, it also marked the end of the first period. The second one opened with … D’un Désastre obscur (Of an Obscure Disaster), a score that accompanied Amy for nearly a decade, until his Shin’anim sha’ananim, Une saison en enfer (A Season in Hell), and Missa cum jubilo (1981-1983). The 1980s and 1990s, years that were dominated by Orchestrahl, correspond to a third period. That period is defined by Amy’s coming to terms with writing for string quartet (1992, 1995, 2009), which he had carefully avoided until then — and above all, by writing the opera Le Premier Cercle (In the First Circle), which kept him busy from 1996 to 1999. During the 2000s, he came to terms with the concerto genre (piano, cello). Those years were dominated by his virtuoso orchestral piece L’espace du souffle (The Space of Breath), the Third String Quartet, and Cors et cris (literally “Horns and Cries,” figuratively “Hue and Cry”) for ensemble and electronics (2012), all works that were more obviously accessible.

Amy uses tapes and electronics only episodically, even though he visited GRM Studio and IRCAM several times. He expressed reluctance about using a medium that would inevitably become technologically dated, if not out-and-out obsolete. All the more so in that the technology remained somewhat elusive. He was profoundly attached to the idea of technical mastery — and fiercely opposed to John Cage’s composition by chance. “I can’t imagine using a material that I’m not technically fluent in … I think that the reluctance I have toward ‘concrete’ material stems from the fact that I am unable to codify it.”1 He nevertheless integrated that approach — efficiently, at that — in his Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner (This Star Teaches Bowing) and Une saison en enfer.

Favored Directions

Amy’s production favors two media: the orchestra and voice. Between them, they fill nearly half of his catalogue. Chamber music is not left out, but unlike the two previous categories, for the most part, it only appears from the 1980s and later.

Orchestra music — nearly two dozen scores — has a strong presence in Amy’s oeuvre. His preference is for writing works lasting thirty minutes on average and for large ensembles, often with large numbers of musicians — from about a hundred (Strophe, Chant, Orchestrahl), up to 118 for D’un espace déployé. Following the advice of Messiaen, who urged his students to explore Claude Debussy’s orchestration, Amy took advantage of “the functional aspect of the sound-instrument relationship.” In an article published in 1960, “Orchestre et espace sonore” (Orchestra and Sound Space), he defined his idea of the orchestra of the future, which would be put into effect in the scores he composed from 1962 to 1972, from Diaphonies to D’un espace déployé:

Far from introducing a dispersion of the groups, the enormity that post-Romantic orchestras have gradually acquired paralyzes the arrangement even more, and, even in the hands of deft orchestrators (Mahler, Strauss), renders it muddy and inappropriate. A breaking up [of the orchestra] needs to take place.

In Debussy’s orchestration and Arnold Schoenberg’s Klangfarbenmelodie (in Pieces, op. 16, for example), he spotted the signs of a “functional aspect of the sound-instrument (melody-instrument) relationship and, through it, a ‘spatialized’ treatment of the orchestral mass.” (His dual reference relegates to the background Anton Webern’s orchestration, which Amy sees as “transitory.”) Starting from Diaphonies (1962), Amy endeavored to consider instruments in terms of their proximity: “Although similitude (as in traditional orchestras) has disappeared, there is a proximity based on structural relationship.” Chant for orchestra (1967-1968/1980) would put to use that division into groups by timbre (two groups in the first part, and twice two in the second).

The color of an Amy orchestra is lush with harmonics and various types of keyboards (vibraphone, xylorimba, glockenspiel, celesta, piano) spread over the entire register (aside from Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner, which focuses on the sonorities of the lower register through men’s voices, three trombones, three cellos, three double basses, and tape. The work’s title, borrowed from Paul Klee, refers to a painting in an intense midnight-blue hue). The usual instrumentation calls for a number of complementary instruments (piccolos, bass clarinets, and contrabassoons), paired with well-stocked percussion sections (up to six performers in Strophe and Orchestrahl), which teem with glittering sonorities distantly inspired by Debussy or Messiaen. The orchestral writing is virtuosic, all the more so in the scores for large numbers of musicians, where the ensemble is spread out across the space.

In his equally abundant vocal works, Amy draws from the Surrealist poets (René Char in Strophe, René Daumal in Recitative: Theme and Variation), Stéphane Mallarmé (… D’un Désastre obscur), Arthur Rimbaud (Une saison en enfer), or, less frequently, from texts in foreign languages (e.g., Hebrew in Shin’anim sha’ananim). The chosen texts, usually short or in sampled fragments (Dante in Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner), are broken apart and broken down phonetically. For this reason, they are rarely intelligible, except when recited, as in Écrits sur toiles (Texts Written on Canvases) or sung in a calm manner, as in strophes 1 to 3 of Strophe, or, a fortiori, in his opera, Le Premier Cercle. Most often the text is a montage of short texts, as in Strophe, in which, in Amy’s own words, a poem in five verses by Char “splatters the whole composition” for over twenty minutes.2 The same can be said of the three verses from Dante’s Inferno in Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner, of an alexandrine taken from Mallarmé’s Tombeau d’Edgar Poe in …D’un Désastre obscur, and of the fragments of Rimbaud in Une saison en enfer. This last text, which is labyrinthine in and of itself, is woven in between the spoken and sung voices and the tape that plays back a distorted echo of them. Less “accompanied” by the instrumental ensemble than fused with or even integrated into it (as in Pian’e forte Sonata), Amy’s vocal composing is exploded and fragmented, even if he often grants it expressivity through feminine voices. The fusion of voice and instrument becomes particularly well-expressed starting with Recitative: Theme and Variation for twelve male and female a cappella voices (1970). The text, a poem by Daumal, compares speech and breath, an idea that is common to a number of Amy’s vocal works:

The Word frees — Breath gives life to and moves the words — the cohorts of language … The substance of the word is therefore the respiratory energy, the meaning of the word is imposed on it by the imagined word and, farther than the word, by the idea grasped on the occasion of the word.

The impact of the signifying voice and the instrument moved by breath are particularly striking in … D’un Désastre obscur for mezzo-soprano and clarinet, “like the two sides of a ‘breathed’ sound” (Amy). The combination of the voice and instrument, which take turns echoing or commenting on each other in this compact work (less than four minutes), becomes even more explicit in Shin’anim sha’ananim, an essential piece in his oeuvre, for alto voice, principal clarinet, principal cello, and an ensemble of eighteen musicians (1979).

We must not fail to mention his use of “anonymous” texts, like the one from the ordinary of the Mass (Missa cum jubilo) or the blend of Latin and French in Litanies pour Ronchamp, based on Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prayers, and fragments from the Bible.

Although Amy avoids even the slightest tendency toward illustration or programmatic content, elements of dramaturgy nonetheless exist in the construction of the writing. He is attracted to antagonism, staging, and the implicit or explicit presence of the sacred. Each is a recurrent theme in his oeuvre.

Dramaturgical Writing I: Antagonism

From his first significant works, Amy endeavored to create an opposition between highly distinct soundscapes, as in “Propositions” (Proposals), “Commentaires” (Commentary), and “Variations” from Cahiers d’épigrammes (Notebooks of Epigrams). The idea of basing a work on an antagonism soon led to a new conception of space through the musicians’ placement and groupings. Although writing for a typical ensemble inherited from a traditional orchestra might seem incongruous for the generation of composers from the 1960s, Amy chose to do so but added an unusual spatial reality. As early as Diaphonies (1962) with its ensemble of twelve instruments divided into two groups placed facing each other, Antiphonies (1964, withdrawn by Amy) for a divided orchestra with two conductors, and Strophe with, in the first version (1965-1966), an orchestra in two parts with a female singer in the middle, Amy implements and refines his conception of antiphony. The concept reaches its apex in D’un espace déployé (1971-1972), which has two unequal orchestras facing off: 101 “tutti” musicians and 44 “soloist” musicians, each group with its own conductor. In the first part (“Sonata”) and even more so the third (“Antiphony”), the score is based on Amy’s

predominant determination to compose based on different and coordinated pulsation data, or, more precisely, on moving from homogenous and parallel pulsations to different ones and vice versa (opening and closing like a fan). In addition, the two types of rhythmic writing — pulsated time and smooth time — are often combined (third part).3

Amy’s process is to devise a discourse that puts extremes into play in order to generate harmonic, rhythmic, and orchestral relief and contrasts. Based on a dialectic between opposition and complementarity, his process generates a dramaturgy that is implicit, even though in this case it is powerfully staged.

The interplay between opposition and complementarity is brilliantly put to work in Shin’anim sha’ananim: “the conjunction of the voice, the clarinet, and the cello, which supposes a sort of antagonism, yet at the same time, a sort of connivance between the two instruments and the voice.”4 The text, “With a strong and trembling voice — Contemplating the apparition,” strongly implies that the vocal part is solemn and sententious. The two solo instruments receive virtuosic treatment, with a range of cadences, both separate and together, until the final one, which corresponds to the disappearance after the climax: “They are jubilant and sanctify God: Come Lord, Son of God, and glorify him!” As for the ensemble’s “brilliant, even blinding” sonorities, they echo the text: “Like myriad sparks / They burst into flame / Their blazing vestments glimmering / Like copper.” The tutti sections sometimes reach peaks of violent jubilation. Amy treats the text like a dignified, fervent ceremonial: the sense of holiness magnified by the three soloists, a deliberate allusion to the Trinity, facing the instrumental ensemble.

With more modest works in terms of the number of performers, Amy would continue to follow that approach, particularly in renewing the opposition or complementarity of a ripieno with a concertino in Pian’e forte Sonata (soprano, mezzo-soprano, and twelve instruments divided into three groups, 1974) and again in Seven Sites (1975). The notion of antiphony, present in Pian’e forte Sonata, reveals itself even more clearly on the surface of Echos XIII (1976). The seven male voices in Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner, which are increased threefold in number, are confronted with their own image, transformed by the tape being projected on either side of the stage, producing a presence versus absence effect and creating depth concentrated in the low register.

Amy’s orchestral writing would definitively reconnect with a traditional orchestral layout starting with Adagio et stretto (1978-1979). That did not, however, prevent his earlier experiments from having lasting repercussions in his later work. Their influence can be seen in oppositions between groups or elements, although these oppositions become integrated and smoothed into a more unified writing.

Dramaturgical Writing II: The Stage

Thanks to the many pieces of music he wrote for the theater between 1957 and 1966 (for plays by Eugène Ionesco, Pedro Calderón, Sophocles, and Fernando Arrabal) and the few for films — he was quite close to Henri-Georges Clouzot — Amy became aware early on of the functional constraints of theatrical music. Images du monde visionnaire (Images of the Visionary World, 1963) is a silent film directed by Éric Duvivier with an introduction by Henri Michaux — whom Amy met through Pyotr Suvchinsky. In writing the music for it, he had to “follow the rhythm of the images and compose for a foundational text … about mescaline.” The outcome is a sixteen-minute instrumental score for a small ensemble that he would later rework for orchestra in Triade (1965).

While the conception of the orchestral space described above indisputably concerns a dimension of staging, it is still important to stop and look at the particular case of Trois scènes (Three Scenes) for orchestra (1994-1995). Amy initially wrote the piece as an autonomous form in three parts, but later adapted it into Le Premier Cercle.

When the writing was completed, and after hearing the work performed (debuted in January 1996), I realized that it could provide me with efficient and appropriate material for getting started on the opera. Once that musical material was “deconstructed” and stripped of its status as a “symphonic work,” it would be able to act as a reservoir of sound objects and evolutions, and to lend itself to multiple transformations of all sorts. Its nature spurred me to that end powerfully. That is how the musical project of an opera finally took shape: the orchestra would be at the center, and the different characters would appropriate the material to a greater or lesser degree, moving closer to or further away from it, depending on the lyrical and theatrical requirements. Leitmotifs were brewing!5

The score’s “potential for a theatrical world” offered a shift from the implicit dramaturgy, albeit conscious only after the fact, of Trois scenes, to the explicit dramaturgy of Le Premier Cercle. In retrospect, the orchestral work was three preparatory studies for the opera.

Based on the novel by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Le Premier Cercle fits into the tradition of literary operas, with its unity of place (the world of the gulags), of time (the whole plot covers just four days), and of action (which is focused on the character Nerzhin). The opera’s political aspect is obviously important, set as it is in the context of the Cold War. Yet Amy’s stance draws more attention to the individual fates of these men and women, victims of a repressive state, confronted with their own hell. “I deliberately chose to ignore the character of Stalin, although Solzhenitsyn portrayed him magnificently, in order to avoid the ‘historical document’ aspect.”6

To highlight the text’s drama, Amy used extended vocal techniques, not unlike the ones Berg used in Wozzeck (from speaking to singing, via Sprechgesang). He also integrated ellipses in the shape of filmed scenes (prologue, II/6, interludes at the end of acts II and III), including close-ups which he compares to the espionage and pressure the authorities used against the prisoners. He takes up many of the sound elements present in Solzhenitsyn’s text (radios, alarms, etc.) and uses them to intensify the future deportees’ individual crises. For example, as the story follows a Russian police investigation of a diplomat who had corresponded with the United States, Amy incorporates a vocoder, the machine with “voiceprint” identification that the police use to unmask the traitor. Russian is used only in the filmed prologue (the “traitor’s” phone call) and by the prisoners’ choruses at the end of act IV, referencing Alexander Pushkin and following in the footsteps of the prisoners’ choruses in Fidelio and Boris Godunov.

The opera was clearly conceived as a symphonic opera — consider the importance of Trois scenes in the genesis of the work — confirming yet again Amy’s interest in montage and assembly, noticeable in many of his earlier works.

Referencing and Reinterpretations

References to history are frequent in Amy’s oeuvre. They are generally obvious and relate to the spirit of the work (e.g., Giovanni Gabrieli’s instrumental antiphonies in Pian’e forte Sonata) or to its instrumentation (the lack of high strings in Missa cum jubilo as a nod to Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms). Another level of referencing shows up in textual references. The “Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode,” from Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, op. 132, is at the heart of the modal score of the Litanies pour Ronchamp. And musical references (to Beethoven, Liszt, a boogie-woogie, etc.) are mentioned in the libretto for Premier Cercle and reprised in the opera’s music. And finally, a third level concerns material that is borrowed and reworked, and therefore isn’t identifiable as such, like the highly reduced content drawn from Webern’s Pieces op. 10, in Orchestrahl, which Amy wrote in 1985 for the fortieth anniversary of Webern’s death, intertwined with a tribute to the “eternal power of Bach.”

Amy also reinterprets his own work, creating extensions. One work springs from another one and develops in a new way, like a sort of offshoot that may even completely absorb the original work. There is obvious filiation between Epigrammes and Cahiers d’épigrammes, and the word “Après…” (based on) has a recurrent presence in his titles: Après… D’un désastre obscur, D’après… Écrits sur toiles, “Après Chant” (the third part of Orchestrahl), the two successive versions of Après Ein…Es Praeludium, and even Mémoire, whose subtitle is d’après Shin’anim sha’ananim. These examples clearly situate the works in a relation of more or less distant resonance and reveal a shared mindset.

Other, more subterranean relationships connect scores where Amy reused material. Music from the film Traveling (1962) crops up again in Diaphonies the same year, elements from Michaux’s Images du monde visionnaire reappear in Triade, and parts of Antiphonies are injected into both Chant and … D’un Désastre obscur. We can also recognize a distorted and developed echo of Antiphonies in the central “Lied” from D’un espace déployé, as well as a kinship with elements from the Missa cum jubilo in Litanies pour Ronchamp.

Dramaturgical Writing III: The Presence of the Sacred

The manifestations of dramaturgy in Amy’s use of antiphony and staging are present to such an extent that the third manifestation — an internalized presence of the sacred — might become background. It is apparently a minority in terms of the number of works it concerns directly. Extending from Daumal’s desire for absolutism from breath to speech, the most obvious occurrences draw a line from … D’un Désastre obscur to Shin’anim sha’ananim and all the way to Missa cum jubilo: from the expression of irreversible death in Mallarmé’s “Tombeau,” the shimmering of the divine apparition in the Hebrew prayer, and the profession of faith at the heart of the Mass.

These obvious examples are followed by signs of a second level of attachment to sacred themes. These reveal a network of internal relations, especially through recurrent iterations of hell. The primary is Dante’s, in Cette étoile enseigne à s’incliner — with the reverential bow that Klee’s painting conveys — with the triple inscription on the Gates of Hell at the beginning of Canto III of The Inferno: “Through me you pass into the City of Woe / Through me you pass into eternal pain / Through me among the people lost, for aye.” It is indeed the same source when Dante descends with Virgil into the “first circle” of the Inferno (Canto IV), which connects with Solzhenitsyn’s sharashkas in acts I and II of the opera. As for Rimbaud’s hell, a cross between the human and the divine, it contributes, in its own way, to a “religious service” (Amy) at a time when Amy was expressing his interest in biblical texts.

And finally, one must refer to antiphony, as it has been applied to the works since the 1960s, with Amy feeding off of his experience as a conductor in a double stance that was as much a Mallarmé-style “operator” as an officiant.

Christian Rosset, in his excellent conversations with the composer, which have been quoted from several times above, does in fact refer to the idea of a hierarchy between mankind and the cosmos. But Amy also has a need to explore and comment on the presence of death: “from the black flights of Blasphemy scattered in the future” of the “désastre obscur” (obscure disaster), which will soon be followed by “l’éspace déployé” (unfolded space), then the brilliance in Orchestrahl (“Strahl” means brilliance in German) achieving serenity.

A large part of Amy’s oeuvre straddles that margin between the temptation of the sacred and an expression of personal engagement. As Daumal’s poem says, “Et l’Idée repose dans la Parole…” (“And the Idea rests in the Word…”).

Translated from the French by Regan Kramer

1. Interview with François-Bernard MÂCHE, “Les Mal Entendus: Compositeurs des années 70,” La Revue Musicale, 314-315, Paris, éditions Richard-Masse, 1978: p. 32-35. 
2. Quoted in Christian ROSSET, Amy… un espace déployé, ed. Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002, p. 171. 
3. Gilbert AMY, “Sur certains aspects du langage musical d’aujourd’hui” (1976), in ROSSET, Amy… un espace déployé
4. Quoted in Christian ROSSET, Amy… un espace déployé, p. 93. 
5. Gilbert AMY, “La tentation de l’opéra,” in the program booklet for Le Premier Cercle at the Opéra national de Lyon, 1999-2000 season, reprinted in ROSSET, Amy… un espace déployé
6. Ibid. 

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2014

Liens Internet


  • Gilbert AMY, Concerto pour violoncelle, dans « 21st century Cello concertos », Jean-Guihen Queyras : violoncelle, Orchestre de Paris, direction : Gilbert Amy, avec des œuvres de Bruno Mantovani et Philippe Schoeller, 1 cd Harmonia Mundi, 2009.
  • Gilbert AMY, La variation ajoutée ; Écrits sur toiles ; …d’un désastre obscur ; Après “…d’un désastre obscur”; Échos XIII ; Variations, Ensemble orchestral contemporain, direction : Daniel Kawka, Dominique Reymond : récitante, Jeanne-Marie Lévy : mezzo-soprano, Serge Desautels : cor, Arnaud Mandoche : trombone, Emmanuelle Jolly : harpe, Roland Meillier : piano, 1 cd Lira d’Arco, 2006 (première édition : MFA - coll. 2e2m, 1998, 1015).
  • Gilbert AMY, Une saison en enfer, Fusako Kondo : soprano, Edwige Parat : soliste de la Maîtrise de Radio France, Carlos Roque Alsina : piano, Jean-Pierre Drouet : percussion, Daniel Teruggi et Gilbert Amy : électroacoustique, 1 cd MFA Ina - GRM, 1992, 2004.
  • Gilbert AMY, Le Premier Cercle, Christophe Bernard, Philippe Georges, Lionel Peintre, Pierre-Yves Pruvot et Alain Varnhes : barytons, Karine Deshayes et Marie-Belle Sandis : mezzo-sopranos, Philippe Do, Alain Gabriel et Thomas Morris : ténors, Laurent Manzoni : comédien, Sophie Marin-Degor et Ingrid Perruche : sopranos, Jérôme Varnier : basse, Orchestre et Chœur de l’Opéra de Lyon, Alain Woodbridge : chef de chœur, Michel Plasson : direction, 3 cds MFA - Radio France, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, Trois Inventions pour orgue, François Espinasse, orgue, avec des œuvres de Xavier Darasse et Olivier Messiaen, éditions Hortus, Toulouse, coll. « les orgues », 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, Symphonies pour cinq cuivres, Ensemble Odyssée, 1 cd Chamade, 1997, CHCD 5642.
  • Gilbert AMY, 5/16, Cedric Jullion, flûte, ensemble Transparences, 1 cd Pour Mémoire, 1997, PM 001.
  • Gilbert AMY, Orchestrahl ; Quatuor à cordes n° 1, Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, direction : Gilbert Amy, Quatuor Parisii, 1 cd, MFA - Radio France, 1996, 216011.
  • Gilbert AMY, Missa cum jubilo, Mary Shearer : soprano, Benedetta Pecchioli : mezzo-soprano, Peter Lindroos : ténor, Gregory Reinhardt : basse, Maîtrise de Hauts de Seine, BBC Singers, Orchestre de Paris, direction : Peter Eotvös, 1 cd Erato - Radio-France, 1990, 245 020-2.
  • Gilbert AMY, En trio, Alain Damiens, Maryvonne Le Dizès, Pierre Laurent Aimard, 1 cd Adda, 1989, 581142.
  • Gilbert AMY, Shin ‘anim Sha’ananim ; D’un désastre obscur ; Récitatif, Air et Variations ; Relais, 1 cd Erato, n° 75265.

Bibliographie sélective


  • Gilbert AMY, « Orchestre et espace sonore », dans Esprit n°1, janvier 1960, repris dans dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Musique pour Misérable Miracle », dans Tel Quel, printemps 1964, n°17 ; repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Redéfinir l’écoute », dans la revue Preuves n° 177, novembre 1965, repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Die Avant-garde in Frankreich heute », dans Musica, Allemagne, mai-juin 1965.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Il y a ce qu’on appelle musique », dans Cahiers de L’Herne n°8, 1966, repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Formes et liberté », dans Lettres françaises, n° 1189, du 28 juin au 4 juillet 1967, repris dans Martine CADIEU, À l’écoute des compositeurs, Paris, Minerve, 1992, repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Jean Barraqué 1973… », texte d’hommage pour Le Courrier Musical, 20 septembre 1973. Gilbert AMY, « Sur certains aspects du langage musical d’aujourd’hui » (1976), repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Arnold Schönberg : Le style et l’idée », Les nouvelles littéraires, mars 1977.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Orchestre et oreille symphonique chez Iannis Xenakis », dans Regards sur Iannis Xenakis, Paris, Stock, 1981.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Sur quelques aspects de la musique religieuse d’Igor Stravinsky », Symposium International Stravinsky, San Diego, septembre 1982, publié en anglais sous le titre « Aspects of the religious Music of Igor Stravinsky », dans Confronting Stravinsky, Jan Pasler, San Diego 1982.
  • Gilbert AMY, « La régie de l’intervalle dans la musique française d’après Debussy », dans : Jean-Pierre Derrien, XXème siècle - Images de la musique française, Paris, éd. Sacem & Papiers, 1986.
  • Gilbert AMY, « L’étincelle marginale », dans : Claude SAMUEL, Eclats. Boulez, Paris, éditions du Centre Pompidou, 1986, réédité en 2002 par Mémoire du Livre, repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « L’audibilité et la musique », dans Conséquences n° 7-8, 1985-1986, p. 19. Gilbert AMY, « Invention technique ou technique de l’invention ? », conférence (1989), reprise dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « La transgression et la règle », dans Inharmoniques n° 6, éditions Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 1990, p. 219-225.
  • Gilbert AMY, « Dans la ligne des grandes messes symphoniques », conférence (1991), reprise dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gilbert AMY, « La tentation de l’opéra », dans le programme de l’Opéra national de Lyon, saison 1999-2000, création de l’opéra Le Premier Cercle, repris dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Gibert AMY, « Messiaen, un héritage assumé ? », dans Anik LESURE et Claude SAMUEL, Olivier Messiaen, le livre du centenaire, Perpetuum mobile – Symétrie – France-musique, 2008.


  • Gilbert AMY, Maurice FAURE, entretien, dans Lettres nouvelles n° 11, 1961, p. 165.
  • Gilbert AMY, Dominique JAMEUX, entretien, dans Musique en jeu n° 3, 1971.
  • Gilbert AMY, Alain DUREL, entretien : « Diriger Carré », dans Musique en Jeu n° 15, 1974, p. 27.
  • Gilbert AMY, Edith WALTER, « Gilbert Amy et le NOP », entretien, dans Harmonie n° 103, janvier 1975, p. 24.
  • Gilbert AMY, François-Bernard MÂCHE, « Les Mal Entendus - Compositeurs des années 70 », entretien, dans La Revue Musicale, double numéro 314-315, Paris, éditions Richard-Masse, 1978 p. 32-35.
  • Gilbert AMY, Patrick SZERSNOVICZ, « La solitude des inventeurs de son », entretien, dans Le Monde de la Musique, n° 147, septembre 1991, p. 48.
  • Gilbert AMY, Christian ROSSET, Grands entretiens, France Culture, 26-30 août 1996 (transcrits en majeure partie dans Amy… un espace déployé, textes réunis et présentés par Pierre Michel, Millénaire III, 2002.)
  • Gilbert AMY, Thierry BEAUVERT, entretien à propos de la Missa cum Jubilo, dans Diapason n° 338, mai 1998, p. 24.
  • Gilbert AMY, Alain GALLIARI, entretien, programme de l’Opéra national de Lyon, saison 1999-2000, création de l’opéra Le Premier Cercle.


  • « Gilbert AMY », Cahiers de la DOC n° 33, Services de documentation, documentation des émissions musicales, INA-Radio France.
  • Jésus AGUILA, « Gilbert Amy et l’héritage boulézien », Le Domaine Musical, Paris, Fayard, 1992, Livre III.
  • Maurice FLEURET, « D’un espace déployé… », dans Chroniques pour la musique d’aujourd’hui, éditions Bernard Coutaz, Arles, 1992.
  • Pierre MICHEL (textes et essais de Gilbert Amy sur sa musique réunis et présentés par), Le temps du souffle, livre incluant un DVD, éditions Symétrie, 2015.
  • Pierre MICHEL (textes réunis et présentés par), Amy… un espace déployé, éditions Millénaire III, 2002.
  • Pierre MICHEL, « Quelques aspects de la forme chez Gilbert Amy » dans « Les années 60 et 70 », Il saggiatore musicale, n°1-2, 2011.
  • Pierre MICHEL, « Gilbert Amy », dans Encyclopédie Komponisten der Gegenwart, TEXT+KRITIK, Munich, 2006.
  • Jeremy THURLOW, « Gilbert Amy » dans The New Grove Dictionary, 2007.