Martin Matalon

Duration: 15 minutes
Instrumentation: Solo viola and electronics
Commissioned by le Musée du Louvre, La muse en circuit and Ensemble Intercontemporain
Premiered by Odile Auboin on 6 June 2005 at La Maroquinerie, Paris, France
Dedicated to Odile Auboin
Copyright/Publisher Information: Gérard Billaudot Editeur

The composer writes:

Somewhat like a diary, the cycle of Traces—works for solo instrument and real-time electronics—tackles compositional problems that preoccupy me at various moments in their writing, a sort of common theme in my activity as a composer. These ‘compositional diaries’ are just as much the narrative of the journey—in the literal and figurative senses—that allow for transformation in real time: a journey into the interior of sound, inside the instrument, comparable in a way to the introspective journey we take when writing a diary.

This genre, is for me, the ideal synthesis of instrumental music and the multiple, inexhaustible possibilities of electronics: on the one hand, the soloist’s rich palette with his or her presence on stage, virtuosity, richness of sound, experience, charisma; on the other, all the extensions of sound, timbre, space, time and, above all, the possibilities of creating and superimposing several acoustic perspectives.

It is not only the organic aspect of real time that is fascinating, since electronics are merely an extension of the instrumentalist’s playing and sound (even though electronics can acquire full autonomy). It is also fascinating to witness an unparalleled revolution in instrument-making: thanks to real time, the instrument transcends its spatial, temporal, dimensional and ‘timbral’ limits, without having undergone the slightest change in terms of its mechanics or form.

The multiple dimension offered by real time, combined with the flexibility of writing for a solo instrument, makes this genre a sort of magnificent laboratory enabling me to find formal structuring that eludes conventional contrasts; hence, weightlessness and density (Traces V), multiplicity and unicity (Traces II, VI), the idea of construction/deconstruction (Traces VII), or else: beaten time/suspended time (Traces I), or expansive/intimate sound (Traces I, II).

Traces, a cycle to which I am particularly attached, constitutes a primordial main line in my work as a composer.

About the composer:

Born in Buenos Aires in 1958, Martin Matalon received his B.A. in Composition from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1984 and, in 1986, his M.A. from the Juilliard School of Music. In 1989, having initiated himself in conducting with Jacques-Louis Monod, he founded ‘Music Mobile’, a New York-based ensemble devoted to the contemporary repertoire.

Among his awards, Matalon has received a J.S Guggenheim fellowship (2005), le prix de L’Institut de France Académie des Beaux Arts (2005), and the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1986).

In 1993, having settled in Paris, the composer collaborated for the first time with IRCAM and worked on La Rosa profunda, music for an exhibition organized by the Pompidou Centre on The Universe of Borges. IRCAM commissioned a new score for the restored version of Fritz Lang’s silent film, Metropolis. After that considerable work, Martin Matalon turned to the universe of Luis Buñuel, consecutively writing scores for three legendary and surrealistic films by the Spanish director: Las Siete vidas de un gato (1996), for Un Chien andalou (1927), Le Scorpion (2001) for L’Age d’or (1931) and Traces II (la cabra) (2005) for Las Hurdes (terre sans Pain) (1932).

His catalogue includes a large variety of genres including chamber and orchestral works, music-theater pieces, musical tales, music for silent films, opera, hörspiel, and vocal music.

Begun in 1997, the series of Trames, borderline works between solo concerto writing and chamber music, and the series of Traces, conceived for solo instruments and real time processing, constitutes a sort of ‘compositional diary’ for their author, they form as well an important part of his catalogue.

Martin Matalon has written for, among others, the Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France,  Orquesta de Barcelona y Catalunya, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Court-circuit, MusikFabrik, Ensemble Modern and Orchestre Philharmonique.

He also teaches composition regularly. From 2004 until 2008, Matalon was visiting professor at McGill University and he is currently composition teacher at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional d’Aubervilliers/La Courneuve. He also frequently works as a conductor and has conducted, among others, the Ensemble Modern, Musik Fabrik, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Montecarlo and l’ensemble Court-circuit.

For more information about Martin Matalon visit