Mémorial, Thierry Machuel’s music work for VoCE

Born in 1962, Thierry Machuel is a French composer and pianist who devotes most of his work to choral art, on texts by contemporary authors in many languages. His repertoire weaves specific links between poetry, languages and cultures and music. It covers more than 40 countries and territories. His entire work is a vibrant humanist advocacy based on openness to others.

To that extent, Thierry Machuel has long been interested in the first hand accounts, written by resistance fighters or communities with singular life experiences, such as those collected from prisoners between 2008 and 2011 (Clairvaux box set; Or, les murs…, Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros 2010). His work for schoolchildren, L’Europe de mes rêves, written in twenty-seven different languages and created by 800 schoolchildren from all over Europe last May, was elected by the Académie musicale Villecroze and the Fédération Nationale des Chorales Scolaires to be made available to rectorates free of charge for five years. First composer received at the Villa Médicis (Rome, 1996-98) and at the Casa Velázquez (Madrid, 1999-2001) for a project exclusively for a cappella choir, he was awarded the Sacem/Francis and Mica Salabert prize for vocal music in 2008, the grant from the Beaumarchais Foundation in 2009 and a commission from the Ministry of Culture in 2010 for the creation of his opera Les lessiveuses (the washerwomen), as well as the Grand Prix Lycéen des Compositeurs 2011 awarded with a very large majority by students and their teachers from a hundred high schools throughout France. His choral works are sung in Europe, Asia and the Americas.


Mémorial is a profane oratorio in 24 languages for 9 European a cappella choirs in memory of the victims of the Great War.
The piece is structured in 4 parts. Some short texts, haikus of soldiers, punctuate the various parts and recall the context.

1. Flame(s) evokes fire and devastation in the ranks of all parties, from one side as much as the other.

2. Mémoire(s) (memory(ies) talks about death with several pronouns and points of view, from the one who died and sees himself or herself going to the stars to those who mourn the disappearance of a loved one. In the centre is a choir transcription of an organ choir by Johann Sebastian Bach, on which I have placed the Latin texts of the Office of the Dead (Requiem) and Psalm 130 (De Profundis).

3. Vie(s) [Life(ves)] shows the moment when one recognizes in the other a brother, where the inner movement initiates a movement towards him to include him in humanity.

 4. Lumière(s) [light(s)] evokes the values around which life in common, « living together », seems possible to us. Here, of course, this project of values takes on even more meaning through singing.

Nevertheless, it is the hope that I want to transmit here, and the commitment that all must carry to the highest level in order to make possible, despite the threats of today’s world, a living and generous Europe. Thierry Machuel.

See all the texts of the music work (French and English versions): memorial francais english