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Bernard Parmegiani

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France (1927 – 2013)

Bernard Parmegiani (1927 - 2013) was a French composer of who trained (1959) under Pierre Schaeffer.

Raised amidst two pianos, Bernard Parmegiani grew up under the Sign of Sound, listening to the everyday scales practised by his mother, a teacher, and to the virtuoso repertoire of his step-father.

He was taken on as a sound man first on the radio and later on TV, which is where he conducted his first experiments with “bit twiddling” on tape. During this time he was also studying mime with Marcel Decroux and later at Jacques Lecoq’s theatre school, which gave him an awareness of the plasticity of space, a lesson that he would draw on in his later compositions and in the architecture of his sound universe.

Then he met Pierre Schaeffer, who encouraged him to attend a training course in electro-acoustic music (1959) and shortly after he joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (1960), of which he was to remain a full member right up until 1992.

Schaeffer put Bernard Parmegiani in charge of the Music/Image unit of the ORTF’s Research Departement, where he went on the compose the music for both full-length and short films made by the likes of Robert Lapoujade, Peter Foldés, Piotr Kamler, Valerian Borowczyck, Pierre Kast, Jacques Baratier and Peter Kassovitz, amongst others. This proved to be a first class training ground for learning how to deal with the problems of musical form as these relate to time, and how to overcome the constraints imposed by the medium of the cinema.

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