Nigg, Serge, prominent French composer and teacher; b. Paris, June 6, 1924. He entered the Paris Cons, at age 17, where he studied harmony with Messiaen and then counterpoint and fugue with Plé-Caussade (until 1945). He subsequently studied dodecaphonic composition with Liebowitz. His Variations for Piano and 10 Instruments (1946) was the first strictly dodecaphonic score to be composed in France. In 1956 he was made a member of the music committee of Radiodiffusion Française. From 1967 to 1982 he was inspector of the French lyrical theaters for the Ministry of Culture. He served as prof. of composition (1978–82) and of instrumentation and orchestration (1982–89) at the Paris Cons. From 1982 to 1989 he was president of the Société National de Musique. Among his honors are 6 grands Prix du Disque (1957–89), the Italia Prize (1958), the Musical Grand Prix of the City of Paris (1974), 3 grands Prix de l’Académie des Beaux Arts (1976; Prix Florence Gould, 1983; Prix René Dumesnil, 1987), and the Grand Prix of the SACEM (1978). In 1989 he was elected a member of the Institut de France (Académie des Beaux-Arts), becoming president in 1995. After composing orthodox serial pieces, Nigg opted for a synthesis of nondoctrinal serial writing and accessible French refinement.
dramatic: ballet:Billard (1950). ORCH.: Timour, symphonic poem (Paris, Feb. 1944); Pour un poète captif, symphonic poem (1950; Prague, May 1951); 2 piano concertos: No. 1 (1954) and No. 2 (Strasbourg, June 10, 1971); Violin Concerto (1957; Paris, May 27, 1960); Musique funèbre for Strings (1959); Jérôme Bosch Symphonie (1959; Strasbourg, June 21, 1960); Concerto for Flute and Strings (Vichy, July 26, 1961); Visages d’Axël (1965–67; Besançon, Sept. 4, 1967); Fulgur (Paris, Oct. 7, 1969); Fantes de l’Imaginaire (Paris, June 1974); Scènes concertantes for Piano and Strings (1975; French Radio, Paris, March 26, 1976); Mirrors for William Blake, sym. for Orch. and Piano (1978; French Radio, Paris, Oct. 25, 1979); Millions d’oiseaux d’or (1980–81; Boston, March 20, 1981); Viola Concerto (1988); Poème (1989; Quebec, Feb. 12, 1990). chamber:Variations for Piano and 10 Instruments (1946; Paris, Jan. 29, 1947); Suite for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Harp (1952); Sonata for Solo Violin (N.Y., Nov. 10, 1965); Pièce for Trumpet and Piano (1972); Pièce for Flute and Piano (1976); String Quartet (1982; Radio France, Paris, April 11, 1983); Duo élégiaque for Cello and Piano (1985); Arioso for Violin and Piano (1987); Violin Sonata (1994). piano: 3 sonatas (1943, 1964, 1984); Deux pièces (1947); Deux images de nuit (1997); Tumultes (1998). vocal:Quatre mélodies sur des poèmes de Paul Eluard for Soprano and Piano (1948); Prière pour le Premier Jour de l’Eté for Baritone, Reciter, Chorus, Children’s Chorus, and Orch. (1956); L’Etrange Aventure de Gulliver a Lilliput for Reciter, Children’s Chorus, and Instrumental Ensemble (1958); La Croisade des Enfants for Chorus, Children’s Chorus, and Instrumental Ensemble (1959); Histoire d’Oeuf for 2 Reciters, 6 Percussion, Piano, and Celesta (1961; Strasbourg, Jan. 17, 1962; choreographed version, 1977); Le Chant du dépossédé for Baritone, Reciter, and Orch. (Strasbourg, June 25, 1964); Du clair au sombre for Soprano and Chamber Orch. (1986; French Radio, Paris, March 7, 1987).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire