Death of Nicholas Snowman, former right-hand man of Pierre Boulez at Ircam and director of the Opéra national du Rhin

Death of Nicholas Snowman, former right-hand man of Pierre Boulez at Ircam and director of the Opéra national du Rhin

Nicholas Snowman, in Strasbourg, March 3, 2005.

The daily The Telegraph designated him in 2000 as “one of the most influential figures in British classical music of the last thirty years” :Michael Nicholas Snowman, man of culture and president of the Wartski jewelry house, died in London on March 2 at the age of 78. Only son, born on March 18, 1944, in London, in a large Jewish family of jewelers of Polish origin, Snowman studied at Hall School, then at Highgate School, finally at Magdalene College in Cambridge (from 1963 to 1966 ), where he studied English literature and founded the Cambridge University Opera Society, notably contributing to the writing of articles on music.

Passionate about art – his father, Kenneth Snowman, is a painter who put his career on hold to run the family business – and attracted in particular by the musical field, Nicholas Snowman co-founded the London Sinfonietta with David Atherton, of which he became director general from 1968 to 1972. He organized tours, broadcasts and recordings of the greatest composers, from Luciano Berio to William Walton, via Pierre Boulez, Hans Werner Henze, György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen, while promoting new composers British of the time, in particular Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies or John Tavener. Curious, open-minded, he was also for thirteen years the administrator of a pioneering musical theater ensemble (the Music Theater Ensemble Graphic), which performed at numerous festivals (Brighton, Edinburgh, City of London, Perugia).

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In 1972, called by the future French Secretary of State for Culture Michel Guy, Nicholas Snowman began a career in France (he later acquired the nationality and the language). He became artistic director of Ircam (Institute for research and acoustic/music coordination), a position he held for fourteen years, responsible to Pierre Boulez for programming, researching composers, artists and collaborations, including “Music at the Centre”, musical activities in the exhibitions and spaces of the Center Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. It was only natural that in 1976 he participated in the creation of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, entirely devoted to musical creation, before becoming a member of the music committee at the Venice Biennale from 1979 to 1986 (projects Stravinski, Webern , Boulez).

Six years at the head of the Opéra national du Rhin

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