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Pierre Schaeffer : mémoire / Ingénieur ou artiste (1)

Jacques Perriault, Michel Huillard
France, 1991
Production : Sodaperaga, FR3



Pierre Schaeffer is unclassifiable. The Larousse Dictionary defines him as a composer of concrete music, a label which he rejects. The film is made in two parts: "Engineer and/or artist?" and "The Research", built from an interview illustrated with photos, film extracts and broadcasts. In the first part, Schaeffer talks about his musical training with his parents, the physics lessons of Abbé Molly, his professional beginnings as a young polytechnic engineer, Faraday's cage and the Youth Movements, the Vichy regime and the Resistance, and his first attempts at working for the French Radio Broadcasting, before and after the Liberation.

Tënk's film review

Engineer, pioneer of French radio, writer, composer, inventor of concrete music, tireless animator of groups and institutions, Pierre Schaeffer was first of all, according to the composer François Bayle, "an immense communicator of energies".

This is the first part of a lengthy interview during which Pierre Schaeffer looks back over his career and the many connections that shaped and curved a life of commitment. Here he testifies to his insatiable curiosity and his taste for the whys and wherefores, and points out his spirit of contradiction. These have undoubtedly enabled him to reconcile engineering skills with the aspirations of an artist, or even a poet.

"It so happened that the engineer wanted to take his revenge as a poet. He was looking for a pretext. Technology provided a pretext: the machines were a pretext for poetry and, as I sensed — and this was my merit — the sources and means of poetry."

Fabien David
Programmer of cinéma Le Bourguet in Forcalquier

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Jacques Perriault

Jacques Perriault was born in 1939 and died in 2019, Jacques Perriault was Doctor of State in Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Paris X. He was one of the first French researchers to study the new information and communication technologies, in particular their uses and appropriation.

Michel Huillard

Michel Huillard is a French film director born in 1934. He’s been assistant director on fiction films and has worked mainly for French television (ORTF, FR3, TF1...) making documentaries, particularly on music.

Other films in the collection: Interviews