Munch and Dutilleux in 1960
“Dutilleux is one of the most important composers of our time. It is self-evident. I discovered his music thanks to Charles Munch during a concert at Tanglewood where I was playing Brahms’ Second Concerto. Munch conducted Dutilleux’ Métaboles in the first half. I feel a special attraction for his music, which is so deeply French and so true to Debussy’s esthetics, even if it is obviously much more modern and very personal. It is music which has nothing in common with the Germanic mind. For me, Dutilleux is the flowering and the essence of French music. There is a complexity of writing, a density, an instrumental texture, and a depth of expression which deeply moves me. I consider his Piano Sonata to be a masterpiece worthy of the greatest piano works of the 20th century.
Dedication to Eugene Istomin by Henri Dutilleux
As for the man, I equally love and admire him. He has a very strong personality, but is also modest and humble, with a sense of exquisite courtesy, respect, and thoughtfulness to others which one rarely sees these days. I am very proud that he accepted my request to compose a piece for the Kapell Competition, organized by the University of Maryland, which I was chairing at that time. He had not written for the piano for more than fifteen years! He subsequently composed his third prelude, entitled Jeu de contrastes, which was premiered at the 1988 Kapell Competition. I am delighted that he dedicated it to me, and I had the great satisfaction of performing it in 1996 at the Salle Gaveau in Paris in his presence. It was so moving and successful that I played it again as an encore!”
Interview with Bernard Meillat in 1997
At the very end of his life, Dutilleux spoke briefly about the composers, writers and works that made the greatest impression on him.