Vercors – A Tribute to Henri Tomasi (1986)



In response to the Oppression that Music has been the victim of for nearly a half-century, at least one rebel, one fierce opponent, has made his stand, and that daring fellow is none other than Henri Tomasi. One needed – one still needs – to be spiritually bold – even socially so – to maintain, despite overwhelming mass pressure, musical art in the beauteous ‘sweet to the ear’ tones of its original definition, in the authenticity of its earliest dignity, when even the word ‘harmony’ is the stuff of jest and excommunication. And that is why, in addition to my consideration for Henri Tomasi’s talent, I will always have a particularly great esteem and gratitude towards the man of conviction and courage that I knew him to be.


Let it not be thought that the aforementioned sentiments and the appreciative consideration that I have for his music come from the fact that he wrote the score for my text, Le Silence de la Mer. On the contrary: if I gave him the authorization to transform my writing into that lovely cantata, it was because I was already familiar with his immense talent, and because the effect it had on me was that I wanted to meet the musician himself. This pleasure was only granted me towards the end of his life. From the first time we met, a deep understanding was forged between us. In nearly every branch of art and philosophy (I use ‘nearly’ as a mere formality), we were in perfect agreement. And through the image he had of his art, I recognized that he was guiding me in mine: the same taste for clarity and measure, the same dedication to finesse. I am not a musicologist – simply a modest concert goer. It is therefore impossible for me – without being pretentious – to undertake an analytical study of Henri Tomasi’s music, no more than I would care to wax poetic about his symphonic and instrumental techniques. I can only bear witness to the great pleasure that his music gives me. After his death, it was overlooked for a time – the destiny of many a creator and his art. It is now being rediscovered and this delights me for several reasons: first and foremost because this renaissance is an acknowledgment of the great value of this moving, worthy collection; and because the music-loving public will now get a chance to hear it again; and finally, because, to take up again where I left off in the beginning, it is proof that ‘acoustics’ have not succeeded in killing off, in contemporary music, every last piece written with a respect for harmony. And for this reason, above all others, anyone who remains attached to this form of art will surely agree that Henri Tomasi was well worthy of Music.