updated 27 May 2021

Raphaël Cendo

French composer born 26 February 1975 in Nice.

Raphaël Cendo was born in Nice, France, in 1975. He studied piano and composition at the École normale de musique in Paris, graduating in 2000. He enrolled in the composition class at the Conservatoire de Paris (CNSMDP) in 2003, then participated in Cursus (the IRCAM’s computer music and composition course), which he completed in 2006. He studied with Allain Gaussin, Brian Ferneyhough, Fausto Romitelli, and Philippe Manoury.

Working with other composers such as Franck Bedrossian, Cendo developed the concept of instrumental saturation, which he describes as “the result of excess in a limited space” and as “a quest for animality as a rejection of domestication, as a desire to form new territories.” He also sketched out the concept of irradiance, which he developed to describe his aesthetic. Cendo sees his writing style as a bridge to the act of the concert as “ritual.” He describes his third string quartet, Delocazione, as “a ritual, an apprenticeship of dust and grief.”

He has written works for renowned ensembles such as L’Itinéraire, the Orchestre national d’Ile de France, the Diotima Quartet, the Ensemble intercontemporain, Ictus, Cairn, musikFabrik, the Alternance ensemble, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and the Munich Radio Orchestra. His pieces have been performed and conducted by Miquel Bernat, Alain Billard, Daniel Kawka, Jean Deroyer, Pascal Rophé, Guillaume Bourgogne, Peter Rundel, Georges-Élie Octors, and Lorraine Vaillancourt. Several of his compositions have been performed at major events such as Lille, Capitale européenne de la culture at the Opéra de Lille, the Tremplin Concerts at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Mito festival in Milan, the Venice Biennale, Radio France in Montpellier, Voix Nouvelles at Royaumont, Présences de Radio France, the Musica Festival in Strasbourg, Ars Musica in Brussels, Why Note in Dijon, and in Germany at the Darmstadt and Donaueschingen festivals.

In 2007, Cendo was awarded the Prix Espoir by the Fondation Francis et Mica Salabert, at the International Composition Competition of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. In 2008, he taught composition at the Conservatoire de Nanterre. He holds degrees in composition, analysis, and orchestration from the Conservatoire de Paris (CNSMDP). From 2009 to 2011, he was a resident of the Villa Médicis in Rome. In 2012, he was a guest professor at the Darmstadt Summer Course and at Voix nouvelles at Royaumont Composition Seminars. In 2009, he was awarded the Prix Pierre Cardin of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and in 2011 he won the SACEM’s Prix Hervé Dugardin. He was awarded a Silver Lion at the 2020 Venice Biennale.

His Graphein (2014), for ensemble is, in his words, “the synthesis of ten years of research into complex sound,” the term he uses to describe multiphonic sounds, which, to Cendo, give “color”, rather than just being simple series of notes. In June 2021, his new piece Double Cheese Passions was premiered during the IRCAM’s ManiFeste festival.

Raphaël Cendo directs the University of Altitude. He currently lives and works in Berlin.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2020


Raphaël Cendo.

  • Solo (excluding voice)
  • Chamber music
    • elec Refontes for six percussions and electronics (2008), 12 mn, Billaudot [program note]
    • Furia for piano and cello (2009-2010), 11 mn 16 s
    • Faction for piano, percussion and electric guitar (2011), 8 mn, Maison ONA
    • In Vivo for string quartet (2008-2011), 17 mn 40 s, Billaudot [program note]
    • Rokh for flute, piano, violin and cello (2011-2012), 33 mn
    • Substance string quartet n°2 (2013)
    • Aura for seven musicians (2015), 11 mn, Verlag Neue Musik
    • Direct Action for two pianos and two percussionists (2015), 21 mn, Verlag Neue Musik
    • elec Crypt (2017), 12 mn, Maison ONA
    • Neu Eter for horn and violin (2017), 8 mn, Maison ONA
    • Ars Satura for flute, saxophone, percussion and piano (2019), 8 mn 30 s, Maison ONA
  • Instrumental ensemble music
  • Concertant music
    • Action Directe for bass clarinet and ensemble of thirteen musicians (2007), 14 mn [program note]
    • Corps for piano and orchestra (2015), 26 mn, Verlag Neue Musik
    • Denkklänge for orchestra (2016-2017), 25 mn about , Maison ONA
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • elec ircam Introduction aux ténèbres for bass voice, solo double bass, 13 musicians and electronics (2009), 45 mn, Billaudot [program note]
    • elec ircam Registre des lumières for 30 singers, 16 instruments and live electronics (2013), 45 mn, Verlag Neue Musik
    • Delocazione quartet no.3, for vocal quartet and string quartet (2016-2017), 1 h 10 mn, Maison ONA
    • elec Individua for organ and augmented choir (2018), 12 mn, Maison ONA
    • elec stage Oracles opera for voice, bass flute, horn, percussion, cello, double bass and electronics (2018), 40 mn, Maison ONA
    • elec Double Cheese Passions for mezzo-soprano, electronics and ensemble (2019-2020), 25 mn, Maison ONA
  • A cappella vocal music
    • Shadow for six singers (2011), 11 mn
  • Electronic music / fixed media / mechanical musical instruments


Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en mai 2021).


  • Cosmin TOMA, « De trop - l’infini, à l’écoute de Raphaël Cendo avec Jean-Luc Nancy », Voix Plurielles, Vol. 11, No 2 (2014), lire en ligne.
  • Raphaël CENDO, Pedro Ordóñez Eslava, « Por una música saturada », Sul Ponticello, n° 30, janvier 2012, lire en ligne.
  • Raphaël CENDO : « Excès de geste et de matière », Dissonance, novembre/décembre 2011, lire en ligne en anglais.
  • « Fureur et mystère de Raphaël Cendo », entretien avec Laurent Vilarem sur Altamusica, 12 novembre 2009, lire en ligne.
  • Raphaël CENDO, « Les paramètres de la saturation », dans Franck Bedrossian. De l’excès du son, éditions 2e2m, bilingue français-anglais, 2008, coll. « À la ligne », 2008 [voir Documents].

(liens vérifiés en mai 2021).


  • Raphaël CENDO, In Vivo, Quatuor Tana, dans « Shadows », Paraty, 2016.
  • Raphaël CENDO, Rokh, ensemble Alternance, 1 CD Stradivarius, 2012.
  • Raphaël CENDO, « Furia », Charge ; Furia ; Décombres ; In Vivo ; Tract, Ensemble Cairn, direction : Guillaume Bourgogne, 1 cd æon, 2012.
  • Raphaël CENDO, Introduction Aux Ténèbres, ensemble Ictus, dans « Donaueschinger Musiktage 2009 », 1 cd Neos, 2010.