updated 30 November 2020
© Bernard Baudin

Nicolas Frize

French composer born 1 January 1950 in Briançon.

Nicolas Frize was born in France in 1950. He began his musical career studying piano and then studied composition with Pierre Schaeffer at the Conservatoire de Paris; subsequently, he traveled to New York on a Villa Médicis Hors Les Murs fellowship to work as an assistant to John Cage.

In 1975, he founded Les Musiques de la Boulangère, an organization dedicated to musical creation, production, teaching, research, and dissemination. To this end, the organization strives to foster the practice of music by groups and among amateurs, an approach Frize has favored extensively in a catalogue that includes orchestral, instrumental, choral, electroacoustic, and mixed compositions, often for very large ensembles. Frize’s Concert de baisers (1983), for example, was written for a choir of three hundred “kiss instrumentalists,” while Concert de savants (1987) is for a two-hundred-person choir and tape; Rêves de hotte (2002) included twenty performers and an instrumentation of 750 noisemaking children’s toys. Frize’s compositions are built around the participation of non-professional singers and performers, and use a unique participative approach that means they can be re-performed, but never reproduced.

This understanding of composition, which places the performer’s personality at the core of the musical practice, is highly perceptible in Frize’s installations, which are another major feature of his work. The composer frequently holds artistic residencies during which he prefers to start things off from a “place of incompetence,” inhabiting spaces over the long term: his residency at the Manufacture de Sèvres lasted from 2006 to 2009; he spent two years, from 2012-2014, at the PSA Peugeot Citroën factory in Saint-Ouen; and occupied the National Archives in Pierrefitte from 2014 to 2015. He inhabits spaces as a “public earpiece,” finding ways for the people who normally occupy them to hear the sounds of their own presence, their professional practices, and in this way to engage in a kind of reflective listening. Usually, these residencies culminate with an installation that recreates these sound environments, in which Frize focuses on routes and pathways, the idea being that physical mobility is a springboard for intellectual mobility. His recent collaboration with Robin Meier mobilizes these ideas in a sound creation for the University of Amiens, renovated by Renzo Piano, for which Frize was the first composer to receive funding from the 1% artistique program of the French Ministry of culture.

Concern for the common good and for community building are common threads in his catalogue and his approach, perceptible in the attention he gives to work, to care, and to teaching. Notably, Frize has done a significant amount of work in and around prisons, and is head of the Prison Commission for the French Human Rights League; in 2004 he published a book on the subject titled Le sens de la peine: état de l’idéologie carcérale, on the meaning of punishment and the state of carceral ideology.

Nicolas Frize rejects the concept of posterity, preferring to allow his work to disappear when he does; for this reason, his pieces are not recorded and his scores are written so that they can only be performed in his presence.

In June 2021, his Barthes Performance premiered at the Centre Georges Pompidou during IRCAM’s ManiFeste festival.

Sources

Site du compositeur, France Musique.

  • Chamber music
    • elec Concert de Bébés 2ème creation for 6 musicians, instrumentarium composed of a host of original sound objects and magnetic tapes (1985)
  • Instrumental ensemble music
    • Concert de baisers for three hundred singers and instrumentalists of the kiss (1983)
    • Concert par la racine for oboe, bass clarinet, violin, double bass, tape, and 80 instrumentalists of everyday, familiar or original sound objects (1984)
    • À fleur de peau for 13 percussionists and a local professional instrumentarium (1993)
    • Rêves de hotte piece for 20 performers and an instrumentarium of 750 children's sound toys (2002)
    • elec 喜鹊 « Shi Tchué » musical creation for five Chinese whistlers and other traditional instruments (2008)
    • la - concert de porcelaine musical creation in three movements for percussionist ensemble on a porcelain instrumentarium, cello and oboe (porcelain) (2009)
  • Concert music
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • elec Sons d’Essaim for 80 choristers (four duets, four trios, four quartets, two choirs), organ and bands (1980)
    • elec Not ! Silence m'était conté for children's choir, small chamber orchestra, and band (1981)
    • elec Elle est belle opera for 90 children, soloists, choirs and small ensemble (1985)
    • elec Concert de haine two hundred choristers-instrumentalists and tape (1986)
    • Concert de Pierres for 8 percussionists, two child sopranos, and an entirely mineral instrumentarium, composed of more than a thousand lithic samples (stones, rocks, minerals, crystals ...) (1986)
    • elec Concert de Pierres 2ème creation for 5 percussionists, soprano, bass clarinet, violin and tape. Exclusively mineral instrumentation composed of more than 3,000 rocks and minerals, raw or tuned (1989)
    • Que souffle la Tempête (1989)
    • C'est l'heure score written for small choir, objects and sounds from a table, solo voices (sopranos and bass) and percussion (1990)
    • elec Concert de Pierres 3ème resumption of the device of the "Concert de Pierres 2e" and musical rewriting (1990)
    • elec Composition française for large children's choir, large adult choir, vocal octet, four soloists (France, Algeria, Vietnam, Palestine), small harmony, cello, double bass (1991)
    • elec Passion Profane for bass clarinet, percussion, cello, electric instruments, heterogeneous acoustic instrumentarium, soprano and backing vocals, with magnetic tapes (1991)
    • Tout contre for soprano, percussion, harpsichord, trumpet, horn, amateur soloists and large choir (1993)
    • T’entends ce que j’entends ? for nine solo voices, oboe, bassoon, mandolin, percussion and grand choir (1993)
    • Patiemment for soloists, singers, instrumentalists and choir (with the participation of around 100 performers and 12 adolescents from Degeyter College) (1994)
    • Un instant for organ, soprano and choir (1994)
    • Concert de Timbres for three percussion ensembles, three choirs, an important instrumental ensemble of timbres (chimes, bells, ringtones, etc.) and tape (1995)
    • Je t'aime, je meurs score for baritone and piano (1995)
    • elec Du plus profond score with nine segments (1999)
    • elec Auguste s'envole piece in four scores for four different places (2001)
    • Concert de locomotives for nine SNCF motor coaches, 12 singers and a solo soprano, piano, percussions, station master and various sounds, objects and station accessories (2003)
    • elec Concert de timbres (1&2) for three percussion ensembles, three choirs, an important instrumental ensemble of timbres (chimes, bells, ringing tones, etc.) and magnetic tape (2003)
    • L'enfant qui s'envole for child soloists, harp and lute (2004)
    • Êtres for instrumental ensemble and choir (2006)
    • elec Dehors au dedans score for orchestra, voice and projection of images based on interviews with 70 workers from four companies in Ile-de-France (2008)
    • elec Langages d'un jour musical journey in three stages and three spaces for percussion quartet, violin and cello, large choir, with projection of contemporary poems (2010)
    • elec Je ne sais pas score for musical ensemble made up of four singers, eleven professional instrumentalists and an amateur choir of one hundred people, dancers, painters, poetic subtitles and a magnetic tape (2011)
    • elec Peut-être, ca va arriver ! score for spoken or sung voices, instruments, sound objects of all kinds and recorded sounds (2012)
    • elec Intimité musical creation in 3 movements for professional musicians and amateur participants, recorded instruments and sounds, objects and voices (2014)
    • elec Silencieusement Itinerant concert in six movements in 6 different places of the National Archives - Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site (2016)
    • Elle s'écoule piece in eight movements played in eight distinct spaces (2018)
    • Rhizome multiple scores for more than 800 performers, orchestras, harmony groups, adult and children's choirs, musicians in small groups, actors ... (2018)
    • elec ircam Barthes Performance electro-acoustic "vocal" piece, entirely composed from the voice of Roland Barthes, resynthesized (2020)
    • elec Impressions… d’être ambulatory composition in 5 movements given in 5 distinct spaces of the DILA (2020)
  • A cappella vocal music
  • Electronic music / fixed media / mechanical musical instruments
    • elec Krisie electro-acoustic creation on tape (1974)
    • elec Deux peintures de peintres electro-acoustic creation on tape (1977)
    • elec Concert vertical broadcast on an orchestra of loudspeakers located at the windows of the dwellings (1978)
    • elec stage Sans y toucher creation on tape from vocal recordings of around thirty children aged 3 to 5 (1980)
    • Musique en blouse musical pieces for 150 machine tools, performed by 60 students from a technical high school (1982)
    • elec Voix-ci, voix-là individual and recorded vocal work carried out with a hundred children from 3 to 5 years old, resulting in a creation on tape (1986)
    • elec Palimpseste spatialized electro-acoustic creation on a particular version of Acousmonium (with HSS additions) (2017)
  • Unspecified instrumentation
    • Ouvert pour travaux (1984)
    • elec La Voix des Gens produced in parallel with the Voixthèque (1996-1997)
    • Desseins... score for 280 professional and amateur performers, dancers, designers and cooking students… (2004)
    • Soufflé program of 27 creations and 49 short works from the contemporary repertoire for a multitude of performers in a multitude of venues (2011)

Catalog sources and details

Dans la sélection ci-dessus, ont été écartées nombres d’autres réalisations, dont, parmi les toutes premières œuvres du compositeur, trois pièces musicales pour grand chœur de 600 à 800 enfants et bandes magnétiques ; ces représentations ont marqué l'aboutissement d'ateliers menés dans chaque ville pendant plusieurs mois, à l'intention d'enfants de classes primaires :

  • 1975 - Nancy, Théâtre de Frouard (Comédie de Lorraine)
  • 1976 - Sceaux, Jardins de l'Orangerie (CAC Les Gémeaux)
  • 1977 - Saint-Jean-de-Braye, Salle des Fêtes (Mobil Théâtre)
  • 1978 - Orléans, Théâtre Municipal (Maison de la culture)
  • 1979 - Lille, Palais des Sports (DRAC et Atelier régional de musique)
  • 1980 - Créteil, Grande Salle (Maison de la culture)
    • 2020
      • elec ircam Barthes Performance electro-acoustic "vocal" piece, entirely composed from the voice of Roland Barthes, resynthesized
      • elec Impressions… d’être ambulatory composition in 5 movements given in 5 distinct spaces of the DILA
    • 2018
      • Elle s'écoule piece in eight movements played in eight distinct spaces
      • Rhizome multiple scores for more than 800 performers, orchestras, harmony groups, adult and children's choirs, musicians in small groups, actors ...
    • 2017
      • elec Palimpseste spatialized electro-acoustic creation on a particular version of Acousmonium (with HSS additions)
    • 2016
      • elec Silencieusement Itinerant concert in six movements in 6 different places of the National Archives - Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site
    • 2014
      • elec Intimité musical creation in 3 movements for professional musicians and amateur participants, recorded instruments and sounds, objects and voices
    • 2012
    • 2011
      • elec Je ne sais pas score for musical ensemble made up of four singers, eleven professional instrumentalists and an amateur choir of one hundred people, dancers, painters, poetic subtitles and a magnetic tape
      • Soufflé program of 27 creations and 49 short works from the contemporary repertoire for a multitude of performers in a multitude of venues
    • 2010
      • elec Langages d'un jour musical journey in three stages and three spaces for percussion quartet, violin and cello, large choir, with projection of contemporary poems
    • 2009
      • la - concert de porcelaine musical creation in three movements for percussionist ensemble on a porcelain instrumentarium, cello and oboe (porcelain)
    • 2008
      • elec Dehors au dedans score for orchestra, voice and projection of images based on interviews with 70 workers from four companies in Ile-de-France
      • elec 喜鹊 « Shi Tchué » musical creation for five Chinese whistlers and other traditional instruments
    • 2006
      • Êtres for instrumental ensemble and choir
    • 2004
      • Desseins... score for 280 professional and amateur performers, dancers, designers and cooking students…
      • L'enfant qui s'envole for child soloists, harp and lute
    • 2003
      • Concert de locomotives for nine SNCF motor coaches, 12 singers and a solo soprano, piano, percussions, station master and various sounds, objects and station accessories
      • elec Concert de timbres (1&2) for three percussion ensembles, three choirs, an important instrumental ensemble of timbres (chimes, bells, ringing tones, etc.) and magnetic tape
    • 2002
      • Rêves de hotte piece for 20 performers and an instrumentarium of 750 children's sound toys
    • 2001
    • 1999
    • 1997
    • 1995
    • 1994
      • Patiemment for soloists, singers, instrumentalists and choir (with the participation of around 100 performers and 12 adolescents from Degeyter College)
      • Un instant for organ, soprano and choir
    • 1993
    • 1991
      • elec Composition française for large children's choir, large adult choir, vocal octet, four soloists (France, Algeria, Vietnam, Palestine), small harmony, cello, double bass
      • elec Passion Profane for bass clarinet, percussion, cello, electric instruments, heterogeneous acoustic instrumentarium, soprano and backing vocals, with magnetic tapes
    • 1990
      • C'est l'heure score written for small choir, objects and sounds from a table, solo voices (sopranos and bass) and percussion
      • elec Concert de Pierres 3ème resumption of the device of the "Concert de Pierres 2e" and musical rewriting
    • 1989
    • 1987
      • elec Concert de Savants n°1 score for two hundred singers (musicians and scientists or researchers-performers) and magnetic tape
    • 1986
      • Concert de Pierres for 8 percussionists, two child sopranos, and an entirely mineral instrumentarium, composed of more than a thousand lithic samples (stones, rocks, minerals, crystals ...)
      • elec Concert de haine two hundred choristers-instrumentalists and tape
      • elec Voix-ci, voix-là individual and recorded vocal work carried out with a hundred children from 3 to 5 years old, resulting in a creation on tape
    • 1985
      • elec Concert de Bébés 2ème creation for 6 musicians, instrumentarium composed of a host of original sound objects and magnetic tapes
      • elec Elle est belle opera for 90 children, soloists, choirs and small ensemble
    • 1984
    • 1983
    • 1982
    • 1981
    • 1980
      • elec stage Sans y toucher creation on tape from vocal recordings of around thirty children aged 3 to 5
      • elec Sons d’Essaim for 80 choristers (four duets, four trios, four quartets, two choirs), organ and bands
    • 1978
      • elec Concert vertical broadcast on an orchestra of loudspeakers located at the windows of the dwellings
    • 1977
    • 1974
      • elec Krisie electro-acoustic creation on tape

    Catalog source(s)

    Dans la sélection ci-dessus, ont été écartées nombres d’autres réalisations, dont, parmi les toutes premières œuvres du compositeur, trois pièces musicales pour grand chœur de 600 à 800 enfants et bandes magnétiques ; ces représentations ont marqué l'aboutissement d'ateliers menés dans chaque ville pendant plusieurs mois, à l'intention d'enfants de classes primaires :

  • 1975 - Nancy, Théâtre de Frouard (Comédie de Lorraine)
  • 1976 - Sceaux, Jardins de l'Orangerie (CAC Les Gémeaux)
  • 1977 - Saint-Jean-de-Braye, Salle des Fêtes (Mobil Théâtre)
  • 1978 - Orléans, Théâtre Municipal (Maison de la culture)
  • 1979 - Lille, Palais des Sports (DRAC et Atelier régional de musique)
  • 1980 - Créteil, Grande Salle (Maison de la culture)
  • Liens Internet

    (liens vérifiés en mai 2021).

    Bibliographie

    • Nicolas FRIZE, « Écriture et plasticité du son. Entretien entre Gaetane Lamarche-Vadel et Nicolas Frize », Multitudes n° 78, printemps 2020 (lien vérifié en mai 2021).
    • Nicolas FRIZE, Les sources d’elle s’écoule, Paris, Les Musiques de la boulangère, 2019.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, La, concert de porcelaine, Paris, Les Musiques de la boulangère, 2018.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, Patiemment, Paris, Les Musiques de la boulangère, 2016.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, Si, une création musicale aux Archives nationales, Paris, Les Musiques de la boulangère, 2016.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, Intimité Usine PSA, Paris, Les Musiques de la boulangère, 2014.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, « Une histoire de locomotive (au souffle de Pierre Schaeffer) », in Pierre Schaeffer : Portraits polychromes / Daniel Teruggi (dir.), Paris, Ina, 2008, p. 125-132.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, « De la résidence à la permanence », propos recueillis par Julie de Muer, *L’Observatoire,*2007/2, n°32, p. 51-52 (lien vérifié en mai 2021).
    • Nicolas FRIZE, Le sens de la peine : état de l’idéologie carcérale, Paris, Léo Scheer, 2004.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, « Ne pas sortir ou ne pas entrer », Lignes : Les ambassadeurs, Art et pensée en prison, 1996, n° 27, p.78-104.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, « L’écoute au service de la ville : écoute fonctionnelle, écoute culturelle», in Prendre place : espace public et culture dramatique, textes réunis par Isaac Joseph, Recherches, 1995, p. 191-201.
    • Nicolas FRIZE, « La musique : une histoire de cadres », Lien : l’espace du son II, 1991, n° 2, p. 46-49.