Henry at his home (January 2008)

Pierre Georges Albert François Henry (French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ ɑ̃ʁi]; 9 December 1927 – 5 July 2017)[1] was a French composer and pioneer of musique concrète.[2]


Henry was born in Paris, France,[3] and began experimenting at the age of 15 with sounds produced by various objects. He became fascinated with the integration of noise into music, now called noise music. He studied with Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen, and Félix Passerone at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1938 to 1948.[4]

Between 1949 and 1958, Henry worked at the Club d'Essai studio at RTF, which had been founded by Pierre Schaeffer in 1942.[4] During this period, he wrote the 1950 piece Symphonie pour un homme seul, in cooperation with Schaeffer. It is an important early example of musique concrète. Henry also composed the first musique concrète track to appear in a commercial film: the 1952 short film Astrologie ou le miroir de la vie by Jean Grémillon. Henry also scored numerous additional films and ballets.

Two years after leaving the RTF, he co-founded, with Jean Baronnet, the first private electronic music studio in France: Studio Apsone-Cabasse.[4]

Among Henry's works is the 1967 ballet Messe pour le temps présent,[4] a collaboration with composer Michel Colombier and choreographer Maurice Béjart that debuted in Avignon.[5][page needed] In 1970, Henry collaborated with British rock band Spooky Tooth on the album Ceremony.[6]

In 1997, a Métamorphose: Messe pour le temps présent compilation recording was released that brought together remixes of various compositions of Henry's by electronic artists Fatboy Slim, Coldcut, Saint Germain, The Mighty Bop and Dimitri From Paris. Composer Christopher Tyng was heavily inspired by Henry's Psyché Rock when writing the theme to the popular animated cartoon show Futurama. The theme is so reminiscent of Psyché Rock that it is considered a variation of the original[7] piece that Henry and Michel Colombier released in 1967. The sound effects off Henry and Colombier's Jericho Jerk from the same album also became a popular sample in hip hop and modern electronic music beginning with D'Angelo's Devil's Pie produced by DJ Premier, later being used by others such as A Tribe Called Quest (Solid Wall Of Sound), James Blake (If the Car Besides You Moves Ahead), Kaytranada (DO IT), and Dreamville's producers (Sacrifices), among numerous others.[8] Additionally, one of his songs from his joint album with Spooky Tooth, Jubilation, was sampled by superduo ¥$ (Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign) on their song Problematic.[9]

Henry died on Wednesday 5 July 2017 at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paris, at the age of 89.[10]


Musique sans titre
Concerto des ambiguities mit Klavier