Michel Chion

  • Year of composition: 1973
  • Duration: 16:14
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: Ina-GRM


As with classical Requiems, the text of the Requiem is that of the Funeral Mass, to which are added an Épître (Epistle) (3), an Évangile (Gospel) (6) and the Our Father, the Pater Noster-Agnus Dei (8). It is presented in its original language (Latin or Greek), on rare occasions in French.

The Requiem was composed whilst thinking about the troubled minority of the living, rather than the silent majority of the dead. To the listener, it takes the form of an uneven dramatic course, the turnings and defections telling of a fundamental uncertainty in the face of life, death and faith.

At the level of form, the piece is based on a system of echoes and correspondence that is organized in a symmetrical fashion around an axis found in the middle of the work: movement 10 incorporates elements already heard in movement 1, movement 9 has elements from movement 2, etc, with variants and dissymmetries in the detail. The axis for this construction is to be found in the 6th movement (Évangile), where a symbolic rupture of the tape occurs, a breaking of the piece itself, that opens a gap of eternity in the flow of time, allowing a glimpse of ‘something else.’

With the Requiem, my intention was not to deliver a message or a manifesto, whether pro- or anti-religious. Rather, the piece is a personal testimony, in which I invite the listener to project himself, if he should like to dwell in this music of his experience and sensibility.


Requiem was realized in the studios of the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM) in Paris (France) and premiered on March 19, 1973 at the Théâtre Récamier in Paris, in a concert given by the GRM. The piece was commissioned by the Ina-GRM. Released in 1973 on the Ina-GRM label (AM68905), Requiem was awarded the Grand prix du disque of the Académie du disque français in 1978. With the voices of: André Allag (6), Michèle Bokanowski (2), Caroline Bruas (3-7), Laure and Pierre Bruas (7), Robert Cahen (10), Michel Chion (1-3-4-5-7-8-9-10), Catherine Colas (8), Jean-Pierre Colas (3-7), Catherine Guérin (9), Bernard Guillochon (4), Geneviève Julien-Labruyère (1-10) and the vocal ensemble Le Madrigal de Paris (directed by Rachid Safir) (1-4-10). Many thanks to all those who have contributed to the production of this work, specially my friend Robert Cahen for his support and encouragement.



  • March 19, 1973, Concert, Théâtre Récamier, Paris (France)