Born in Athens, Greece in May 1978, Nicolas Tzortzis has been living in Paris, France, since 2002.
He studied instrumental and electronic composition with Philippe Leroux at the CRD de Blanc Mesnil, musical theatre composition with Georges Aperghis at the Hochschule der Kunste in Bern, Switzerland and Computer Aided Composition at the University of Paris 8 under the direction of Horacio Vaggione and José Manuel Lopez-Lopez. In 2009-2010 he attended the CURSUS 1 of composition and computer music at the IRCAM and he has been selected to do the CURSUS 2 for the years 2010-2012, where he presented a large-scale work for silent piano and live electronics. In April 2013 he completed his PhD at the University of Montreal, under the supervision of Philippe Leroux and Denis Gougeon, with the highest possible grade and the compliments of the jury.
He has taken part in master classes with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer and François Paris, as well as computer music seminars at the IRCAM. In 2010, he was selected for the 6th New Composers Forum of the Ensemble Aleph.
His music has been performed in France, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, Argentina, Peru, South Korea and Australia, and has been selected and awarded in competitions worldwide (USA, South Korea, Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Argentina).
For full recordings, visit http://soundcloud.com/nicolastzortzis
38, rue Ordener
Nicolas is delighted to announce that his latest piece "(Running a) Business, Hommage à Tony Soprano", for solo double bass, has been awarded a commission by the French Ministry of Culture.
The piece will be premiered November 3rd, during the festival Musiques Démesurées, in Clermond-Ferrand, by Aleksander Gabrys.
Tâtonnement, by Ulrich Isfort, Emily Wittbrodt and Matthieu Acar Herrenhaus, Edenkoben, May 29th 2016
Tâtonnement, by Ulrich Isfort, Emily Wittbrodt and Matthieu Acar, Villa Musica, Mainz, May 28th 2016
Tâtonnement, by Ulrich Isfort, Emily Wittbrodt and Matthieu Acar, Club Ebene Eins, Schifferstadt, May 27th 2016
L’assemblage du menteur, by Hayk Melikyan, Greek Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia, May 23rd 2016
Ossia, by Quentin Darricau, CRR de Boulogne-Billancourt, May 12th 2016
Gabriel reflété, by the ensemble Pianorizons, Athens, Goethe Institut, April 21st 2016
Incompatible(s) VIII, by the ensemble Artéfacts, Athens, Onassis Cultural Center, April 13th 2016
"...de ce qui est en lutte...", by das Neue Ensemble, Theaterhaus, Stuttgart, Sommer in Stuttgart Festival, June 14th 2015
Emak Bakia, by Earplay,Castro Theatre, San Francisco, San Francisco Silent Film Festival, May 31st 2015
Emak Bakia, by Earplay, ODC Theatre San Francisco, May 18th 2015
Dehors, by the Ensemble Artéfacts, Goethe Institut, Athens, March 30th 2015
What the wave meant, by Das Neue Ensemble, NDR, Hannovre, March 5th 2015
“…de ce qui est en lutte…” is inspired by a fragment by Heraclitus on harmony, where the philosopher claims that the best consonance comes from elements that are in discord with each other. The piece can be listened to as a theatrical game, where three actors take turns performing two roles, leaving always one on the side, charged with the task to act out the décor. As each role passes from one actor to the other, it is adapted to the actor’s voice, physique and personality, while, at the same time, it keeps evolving as a character, regardless of who the actor is. Based on a recent very intense personal experience, the piece is written for and dedicated to Stephan Meier and the Neue Ensemble Hannover.
Based on the 1926 Man Ray film of the same name, the work tries to recreate the surrealist environment of the images. The music is at certain moments accompanied by a text, and also by some on-stage actions, without an apparent relation between the various elements. Commissioned by the ensemble Earplay, for its 30th anniversary.
Watch on youtube
A couple that has trouble communicating, an internal conflict that eventually comes out in the open. Started in August 2013 but mainly written between August and September 2014, the piece is dedicated to two friends that I’ve met thanks to the guitar, Andreas Karakatsanis and Nikos Avramopoulos.
Written between October 2013 and January 2014, it is the last of the “Incompatible(s)” and “transcribes” to the orchestra some ideas found throughout the whole cycle, while adding some new ones, especially as far as orchestration and construction of timbre are concerned. Homage to Nikos Mamangakis, a personality that has influenced me in a profound way, both artistically and personally. The piece was written, for its most part, during my residency at the Herrenhaus in Edenkoben, and is dedicated to Konrad Stahl and Peter Eötvös who offered me this remarkable opportunity.
A teacher, a student and the evolution of their relationship is the heart of the piece. Other “characters” appear along the way, most of them just passing by, as if on was watching several television shows at the same time, but without losing the thread of the basic storyline.
“Bande Annonce” is a miniature written for the ensemble Aleph to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The piece, which must be played at the beginning of the concert, gives the audience a summary of what will follow, in fast forward mode.
Short piano piece, based on ideas to be found in "Court métrage" and version 2 of "Incompatible(s) V"
Inspired by the techniques of film editing and the speed at which the shots follow each other, the piece is a rapid succession of contradictory, complementary, premonitory or explicatory images, like a story unfolding, but not from beginning to end.
Based on the following citation from the German poet Jean Paul:
“If the past and the future of the heart now run together in the tones, and the present, which separates the two, is missing, then they are the earthly echo
of eternity, and we hear nothing outside of ourselves, but only our own inner and eternal selves.”
Dissociating action from result, image from sound. New approach to polyphonic complex writing. An instrument whose sound changes constantly. An open form decided by the computer. Parasite sounds revealed thanks to technology. Orchestration by microphony. Machine looking to devour man.
Recording of version 1.1.
Duration: 16 - 40 min.
A woman. She sings her absolute love for an absent, distant and unavailable man. Written between January and April 2011, the piece is based on the female part from the “Song of Songs”, in a French, Italian and English translation. Commissioned by the Divertimento Ensemble. Published by Editions Suvini Zerboni.
Duration: ca. 13 min.
A magician waves a hand in front of his audience, doing a conjuring trick with his other hand. The work, written between May and October 2010, seeks to create illusions by disguising some actions and surprising the audience with their outcome, or by drawing attention to red herrings that mislead and dazzle.
Commissioned by the French government for the ensemble Proxima Centauri.
Published by Editions Suvini Zerboni.
Duration: ca. 11 min.
Written between January and February 2009, and then between August and October 2010, the work is inspired by the speed at which the human mind thinks, especially when one is in an alarming state.
Published by Editions Suvini Zerboni.
Based on "Femme-tête-corps-temps" for violin and cello, and on "Trio à cordes".
Duration: ca. 9 min.
Composed between January and March 2010, the piece is the forth part of a series of pieces that deal with the question of incompatibility. How to make things that are not supposed to belong together, coexist, how does one make playable, things that are a priori contradictory, how does one create links between independent textures, all that as part of a polyphonic discourse, that allows every voice to be heard?
Duration: ca. 7:30 min.
A woman. Her boyfriend hasn’t called for several days. Now she talks to her best friend and wonders why.
Based on a text proposition by actress Kelly Partsounidou, who I thank deeply.
Commissioned by the Ensemble Phorminx
No recording available
Duration: ca. 12 min.
Written in December 2009, the piece is a collection of three miniatures of very contrasting character, that mostly focus on the issue of articulation, with or without the help of the pedals.Especially in the 2nd miniature, the fingers act as a pedal, helping the instrument’s resonance evolve in time, at specific rhythms, so that the resonance has a phrasing of its own. In addition, and in order to achieve the legatissimo required without the use of the pedal, silent finger changes are necessary at several points. Attention is also drawn to the way keys are released, thus making the end of the sound an important element of the music. Commissioned by the Val Tidone Music Competitions. Published by Berben.
Duration: ca. 5 min.
Written between March and April 2009, the work is a musical theatre piece around one female flutist, tortured by something in her head that she needs to reveal, since she can no longer hold it in.
The whole work is based on the idea of “going towards something else”, coming back each time, leaving again, and so on, before reaching the moment of the revelation, getting rid of the “load” she’s been carrying, but thus entering another vicious circle.
Duration: ca. 11 min.
Incompatible(s) II is the second part of a musical theatre performance that deals with things that are not supposed to be together, but that find (?) their way to coexist, despite their differences.
The instrumental playing, the spoken text, the body movements and the entering and leaving of the musicians search for an explanation in a constant back-and-forth between linear narration, heterogeneous juxtapositions and contradictory actions. Promises are not always kept, answers are not always precise, and we don’t know whether the end is definite or whether the work could go on.
Duration: ca. 10 min.
Written in 2008 for a dance project, Quintette is a sort of study of textures and ways to connect different elements together, vertically or horizontally. The rhythmical writing sets the character for each section, moving from dense cluster-like polyphonies to multi layered gestural patterns that run through the whole ensemble.
Commissioned by the stART festival of Salzburg.
Duration: ca. 11min.
(flute/bass flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello and piano)
Written between March and May 2008, the work is inspired by the notion of short-term memory and tries to put some of its characteristics into music.
A large amount of small musical objects succeed one another rapidly, without having the time to fully establish themselves. These objects come back eventually, always changed, like distorted and uncertain memories.
Published by Editions Suvini Zerboni.
Duration: ca. 7:30min.
Written between December 2007 and March 2008, the work is a musical theatre piece inspired by press conferences of a famous American politician.
A harpist, placed in the middle of the stage, and a clarinet player, standing right behind her, form a two-headed instrument, of often contradictory natures, and work on their complementary aspects, as well as their points of disagreement.
The voices and the sounds are mixed, the music changes gradually, while the harpist, freed from her instrument, invites us to stay and watch a much larger show. Or maybe not…
Dedicated to Megumi Tabuchi and Eloïse Labaume
Duration: ca. 10 min.
(fl/Gfl, Cl, BarSax, Perc, Vlc)
Written between January and February 2008, based on a text by Elpis Tzortzi, the piece deals with a woman that has trouble getting out of an abusive relationship with an alcoholic partner. This incapacity to move forward is the main idea of the music that, even if it sometimes gives the impression of moving towards something different, always comes back to its starting point, although changed every time.
Commissioned by the ZKM, Karlsruhe
Duration: ca. 8 min.
(Fl/GFl/Picc, Cl/BCl, Vln, Vla, Vlc, Pno)
Written between September 2005 and August 2007, after many interruptions, the work is first of all homage to the Canadian composer Andrew Svoboda, who died in 2004, at the age of 27 years old.
The music tries to deal with the subject of death and some of the reactions caused by the loss.
Duration: ca. 15 min.
(Cl/BCl, Bsn, Hrn, Trp, Trb, Prc, Vln, Vla, Vlc, Cb)
Written between May and July 2007, the work is an almost uninterrupted flow of different sound events that follow each other at great speed, like a person that tries to think but is constantly troubled and disturbed by its surroundings and its own anxieties.
Duration: ca. 7 min.
Written between October and December 2006, the work is based on a poem by Kleio Lappa, whose voice we hear on the CD. The music is built upon the organic succession of some physical and instrumental gestures, just like in a text, where words follow one another to form ambiguous phrases. The violinist plays sounds of constant evolution, in a continuous game between the two hands, the fingers and the strings, the man and the machine.
Duration: ca. 5:30 min.
Convictions/ thoughts developed around them/ and then /doubts/one questions himself/pushed by the will to change opinion/ to learn/open to everything/maybe going back to the starting point/but changed/richer/and always open…Commissioned by Densité 93
Work selected for the 6th Forum of the ensemble Aleph
Duration: ca. 11 min.
« L’accordage du menteur » is a series of piano miniatures, a “work in progress” in the form of a journal, where are notated the ideas that interest me at different times. The first three miniatures, written in 2005, are basically a research on rhythm, while the 4th focuses more on harmony and its resonances. The 5th, up to now the last one, is an almost uninterrupted chain of small musical gestures, like promises that are sometimes kept, but sometimes not.
Dedicated to Spyros Thomas
Duration: ca. 8:30 min.
Written between February and May 2005, the work is the uninterrupted succession of five miniatures, all of which vary in character, but derive from one basic idea, that of the gesture of the pianist’s hand moving up or down on the keyboard.
This gesture is the nucleus of the whole piece and takes various forms, giving birth to different musical situations: Dense polyphony, constant fluctuations on repeated notes, chord interpolations that start homorhythmically to gradually move towards a generalized hetero-rhythmic texture, and granular passages on the upper register that become descending arpeggios covering the whole range of the piano. The use of noise is also a part of the work, especially in the fourth miniature, where the main gesture takes a completely abstract form and becomes a series of breathings by the brass players.
The title refers to the rapid succession of ideas that takes place during the piece. No idea has the time to “settle down”, the work constantly moving towards new directions. Everything seems “passing by”, like things that we see everyday, but don’t get the opportunity to spend more time with, and finally forget.
Duration: ca. 6:30 min.
Written in August and September 2004, the work is inspired by the lyrics of Eddie Vedder in the song “Indifference”, and closely related to my previous work, « Fictif », for cello and piano. “I will swallow poison, until I grow immune” sings Vedder, and the piece takes this image to create extreme situations using noise, highly dense passages, but also moments of absolute immobility, like a body that is no longer affected by its surroundings, or even by its prior suffering.
My thanks to Séverine Ballon, for her help during the composition of this work.
Duration: ca. 10min.
Written between February and April 2004, the work finds its inspiration in the way some film directors tell their stories, true or fictional.
Four sections, all of which use a common “theme”, succeed one another and try to create completely different situations, by always transforming this “theme”. In each section one hears elements that foretell the music that follows, like in a movie where independent stories meet for a few seconds and then go on their way.
Duration: circa 8:30 min.
Written in October 2003, “Sama” (alone, in polish) could be considered a « theme with variations », the first two systems being the theme. Based on its elements, we later hear different sequences that try to bring out the flute’s vast possibilities.
Emphasis is given on the opposition between noise and pure sound, on the confrontation of registers and dynamics and on the gradual transition from one state to the other
Duration: ca. 6 min.
Written in 2002, the work is divided into three parts, the first and the last being aggressive, percussive and full of movement, while the middle one is static, calm and almost suspended.
During the whole piece the instruments either collide, contradicting one another, or form alliances, by using the same musical material, giving birth to homogenous sections.
Commissioned by the Athens Megaron
Duration: circa 9 min.
Written between November 2001 and January 2002, after a suggestion by Theodor Antoniou, these four songs, written for an uncommon duo, bring together two melodic “instruments” that try to create musical situations directly related to the used texts.
The strong imagery in Sylvia Plath’s poems forms the basis for the material of the viola. The voice plays the role of the narrator that tells the stories, while the viola player incarnates the depicted personas. Anxiety, loss of memory, disappointment, tranquillity, insomnia, acquiescence and loss of balance are some of the emotional states that the instrumentalist goes through, while the singer remains often inconsiderate towards his suffering. The interpreters operate independently; the viola rarely accompanies the song, thus creating great contrasts that finally bring out the few moments of unity.
Duration: ca. 17 min.