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Vingt-quatre préludes à la vie

Michel Chion, Christiane Sacco Zagaroli

Programme notes

“He cried out in a loud voice: Lazarus, come out! And the dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a shroud.”

— John, 11, 43-44

The 24 préludes à la vie (24 Preludes to Life) conceived, along with Dix études de musique concrète, 1988, Variations, 1990, and the Sonate, 1990, as part of a series of works of a technical character, formal and demonstrative, its purpose being to illustrate the resources of musique concrète and especially to explore the possibilities of concision appropriate to this means of expression, to fight against its distinct tendencyand mineto become stagnant. More colourful and diversified than the Dix études de musique concrète, which tend to be graphic draughts, the 24 préludes à la vie once again take up abstract and pictorial inspiration while at the same time being inspired in their form by the homonymous collection of Frédéric Chopin: a unified group of short pieces of very varying dimensions, from the sketch of several notes to more developed excursions.

In keeping with the above requirements, the work revealed itself during the course of composition to be for me a sort of echo of the Requiem and other preceding works and assumed a particular meaning that I could summarize by these four words: “Despite all, the Joy.” A religious meaning — provided that one understands this word outside of religious institutions.

The evangelical episode of the resurrection of Lazarus, already evoked in the Requiem, inspired certain pieces, notably the first and last, and the fifth prelude Éveil (Awakening) makes reference to the trembling which John mentions that Jesus experienced before the tomb of his friend.

“It is about life. About being alive, in flesh and in spirit.”

Christiane Sacco Zagaroli

24 préludes à la vie was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris) and realized in its studios. The text of the 24th prelude is by Christiane Sacco Zagaroli and is spoken by Cécile Sacco. The work premiered in a preliminary version of 20 movements on April 10, 1989 during a concert of the Cycle acousmatique series (produced by the GRM in Paris), and in its complete version on May 31, 1990, during the Semaine festival organized by the Groupe de musiques vivantes de Lyon (GMVL) at Villa Gillet. 24 préludes à la vie is in 2 books. First book: Linceul [Shroud]; Libera me; Aux morts [To the Dead]; La Piazza; Éveil [Awakening]; Dans la nurserie [In the Nursery]; Chant simple [Simple Song]; La source [The Spring]; Oubli [Forgotten]; Matines [Matins]; Danse de l’Ombre [Dance of the Shadow]; Qu’est-ce que? [What is?]. Second book: Ronde de nuit [Song In The Night]; En songe [In a Dream]; Sursauts [Startled]; Les pleurs [Tears]; Des hauts et des bas [Highs and Lows]; Terre et ciel [Earth and Heaven]; À Pierre Schaeffer [To Pierre Schaeffer]; Tumulte [Uproar]; Le couple [The Couple]; Rêve de valse [Waltz Dream]; Annonce [Declaration]; Nous sommes vivants [We are Alive].


  • April 10, 1989, Cycle acousmatique 1989: Concert, Grand Auditorium — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)



  • Duration: 0:59
  • ISRC: CAD509511300

Libera me

  • Duration: 1:39
  • ISRC: CAD509511310

Aux morts

  • Duration: 0:37
  • ISRC: CAD509511320

La Piazza

  • Duration: 0:35
  • ISRC: CAD509511330


  • Duration: 0:54
  • ISRC: CAD509511340

Dans la nurserie

  • Duration: 1:16
  • ISRC: CAD509511350

Chant simple

  • Duration: 0:40
  • ISRC: CAD509511360

La source

  • Duration: 1:20
  • ISRC: CAD509511370


  • Duration: 0:22
  • ISRC: CAD509511380


  • Duration: 1:29
  • ISRC: CAD509511390

Danse de l’Ombre

  • Duration: 2:57
  • ISRC: CAD509511400

Qu’est-ce que?

  • Duration: 0:48
  • ISRC: CAD509511410

Ronde de nuit

  • Duration: 2:51
  • ISRC: CAD509511420

En songe

  • Duration: 1:16
  • ISRC: CAD509511430


  • Duration: 2:13
  • ISRC: CAD509511440

Les pleurs

  • Duration: 0:50
  • ISRC: CAD509511450

Des hauts et des bas

  • Duration: 0:53
  • ISRC: CAD509511460

Terre et ciel

  • Duration: 0:53
  • ISRC: CAD509511470

À Pierre Schaeffer

  • Duration: 1:29
  • ISRC: CAD509511480


  • Duration: 1:56
  • ISRC: CAD509511490

Le couple

  • Duration: 1:19
  • ISRC: CAD509511500

Rêve de valse

  • Duration: 3:24
  • ISRC: CAD509511520


  • Duration: 1:03
  • ISRC: CAD509511510

Nous sommes vivants

  • Duration: 9:12
  • ISRC: CAD509511530