Bernard Cavanna (France)

Bernard Cavanna was very young when he decided to be a composer and he went on to embark on the career, mostly self-taught. Cavanna, who is an intuitive and clearly original creative artist, received encouragement from Henri Dutilleux, Paul Méfano and Georges Aperghis. Cavanna’s repertoire has some thirty pieces covering most musical genres and featuring three concertos making distinctive use of one of the instruments of the ensemble which could be described as his musical fetish, the trio of violin, cello and accordion.  The composer invariably sees the concerto form as a conflict situation with the soloist struggling against massive, shattering or thundering orchestral forces. This predilection for conflict, confrontation and contrast is even more apparent in Messe, un jour ordinaire (1994). Other striking works in Cavanna’s repertoire are Io (1980/81), one of his early works showing the influence of Xenakis, composed for voice and eleven instruments;  La Confession impudique (1987/1992), an opera based on The Key, a short story by Tanizaki, which has had a number of productions;  the Sept chants cruels for soprano and orchestra, first performed in 2006 by Rayanne Dupuis (soprano) and the Ensemble Intercontemporain (conducted by Jonathan Nott);  and Gennevilliers Symphony (commissioned by the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, which gave the premiere performance, conducted by Daniel Kawka, in 2006.

Cavanna’s works are regularly programmed in France and internationally and often requested by contemporary music ensembles (Ensemble 2e2m, Ars Nova, Ensemble Intercontemporain, TM+, Ensemble Modern, and Nuova Consonanza) and by symphony orchestras. Bernard Cavanna has received a number of distinctions, including the grant for original creative work from the French Ministry of Culture (Bourse annuelle de la creation, 1984), a residency at the Villa Médicis in Rome (1985/1986), the SACEM award for the best original contemporary work (Messe un jour ordinaire, 1998), the winning citation at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (1999), a Victoire de la musique award (Concerto pour violin, 2000) and the SACD Grand Prix for music (2007), Prix International Arthur Honegger/Fondation de France (2013), Grand Prix de la SACEM (2014).