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Tombeau de Clément Ader : for clarinet, electric guitar, percussion, violin, viola, cello, contrabass and electronics.

by Paul Clift (2020)

Tombeau de Clément Ader


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Tombeau de Clément Ader / Paul Clift.

Library shelf no. 785.59418/CLI 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

At the dawn of the Great War, the French army tasked engineer Clément Ader (1841-1925) with the design and construction of a prototype of a warplane that could be mass produced, with the goal of establishing the country's first air force. The result-constructed primarily from wood and leather, and in the shape of an enormous bat with wings that flapped (driven by a stem engine)-was a spectacular failure, achieving altitudes of less that one meter and flight times of less than one minute before shaking itself into pieces. However, long before this professional humiliation, the engineer created something genuinely revolutionary, the importance of which can hardly be overstated. His "théatrophone" (1881), the first stereophonic audio device, made it possible to broadcast left and right audio channels in a location remote from the sound source. It was notably used for live transmissions from the Comédie Française to the Paris Electrical Exhibition (a distance of around two kilometres). Despite its historical significance, Ader received little acknowledgment for his invention, and his name remains associated with failure, at the highest level, in the field of engineering.

This work is a hommage to the perfectly dualistic nature of this remarkable person, Clément Ader.

Work Details

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: Clarinet, electric guitar, percussion, violin, viola, cello, contrabass, electronics.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Ensemble Vortex/Pro Helvetia

Performances of this work

27 Mar 21: Fonderie Kugler, Geneva, Switzerland. Featuring Ensemble Vortex.

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