Luc Ferrari, 1929-2005

Within a day of losing one of its greatest inventors and proponents, Bob Moog, electronic music has now lost one of its greatest compositional voices.

Paris-born composer Luc Ferrari was a pioneer both of electronic and instrumental avant-garde music. He was the founding director of the Groupe de Musique Concrète in 1958 and was, along with Pierre Schaeffer, one of its leading practitioners. As a documentary producer, he profiled composers from Varèse to Cecil Taylor. He continued as an active composer, teacher/lecturer, and “sound hunter” throughout his life.

Ferrari constantly reinvented his own poetic approach to sound and music. His innovations in “sound realism”, “photographing” sounds from around the world as music, have influenced genres from popular to experimental. His work has been performed worldwide, and earned him awards like the Prix Italia, Grand Prix National of the French Ministry of Culture, and the International Record Critics Award. (read more)

Profile at Other Minds (with online music samples — both instrumental and tape)

Profile at

Bio and CD sales at CDeMUSIC [Electronic Music Foundation]

Interview at Paris Transatlantic, 1998

Some excerpts from that interview:

[On his Nagra-recorded tape pieces:] Musique concrète was a kind of abstractisation [sic] of sound-we didn’t want to know its origin, its causality… Whereas here I wanted you to recognise causality-it was traffic noise it wasn’t just to make music with but to say: this is traffic noise!

[On computers:] “I have problems with machines which aren’t gestural. But now we’re returning to the gestural, even with digital machines-I’m quite fascinated by techno, the way those guys work with records, the ease and directness of the gesture… Samplers are very interesting, a way of doing real-time montage.”

As with Bob Moog, if anyone has memories or reflections they’d like to share, please drop me a line.

  • Guest

    I met Luc Ferrari in the late nineties when he visited one of my college musical composition classes. He wore a green flanel suit and red doc martins and blasted Daft Punk on the sound system for 50 minutes. That was his version of a lecture, apparently.

  • Guest

    Luc and his wife Brunhild were my dear friends.

    Luc was not comfortable lecturing
    in English, so I translated for him
    when he spoke University of California,
    Santa Barbara.

    I admired him tremendously.

    Luc was young in spirit, 76, but 18.
    This quality is very rare!

    He was a beautiful person, but he will
    be remembered as a great artist.

    Study his music. It is extremely important.

    Curtis Roads

  • Guest

    Ferrari's "presque rien No.1" (Fast Nichts) was one of my first great experiences in modern music. This piece opened my ears… Ralph Lichtensteiger