Born in Tulle in 1952, Philippe Manoury studied the piano (with Pierre Sancan) then, at the École Normale de Musique in Paris, composition (with Gérard Condé and Max Deutsch) as well as harmony and counterpoint. Finally, at the Paris Conservatory, he completed his training with Claude Ballif (musical analysis), and Ivo Malec then Michel Philippot (composition). From the age of 19 he was active in the main centres of contemporary music performance (Royan, La Rochelle, Donaueschingen, London, etc.), the premiere in 1974 of Cryptophonos by Claude Helffer drew him to the attention of audiences. He was resident in Brazil from 1978 to 1981 where he held classes and gave lectures in various universities (Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador).
On his return to France in 1981 Philippe Manoury received an invitation from IRCAM, and since then he has continually worked there as a researcher, a composer and a teacher. In association with the mathematician Miller Puckette, his research has been focussed on the interaction, in real time, of acoustic instruments and new technologies linked to musical IT. From this work came Sonus ex machina, a cycle of interactive pieces for various instruments: Jupiter, Pluton, La Partition du Ciel et de l’Enfer and Neptune.
From 1983 to 1987 he was in charge of pedagogy for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and taught composition and electronic music at the Lyons Conservatory from 1987 to 1997. He has also held many composition seminars in France and abroad (United States, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Canada).
From 1995 to 2001 he was composer in residence with the Orchestre de Paris, and then, from 2001 to 2003, for the National Theatre in Orléans, having, from 1998 to 2000, directed the European Music Academy of the Festival of Aix en Provence.
Since the autumn of 2004 he has been teaching at the University of California in San Diego. Manoury’s music has been performed in many leading cities around the world (Amsterdam, Berlin, Bratislava, Helsinki, Moscow, Oslo, Saint Petersburg, Tokyo, Vienna) and has been admired by leading personalities, such as Pierre Boulez, the dedicatee and first conductor of Sound and Fury at the head of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, and conductor of several of his works; Esa-Pekka Salonen, who, conducting the Orchestre de Paris, gave the first performance of Noon (2003); Kent Nagano, who, as director of the Bayerische Staatsorchester, conducted the world premiere of Abgrund (2007). His ensemble music has been commissioned and premiered by eminent groups such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain (Identités remarquables, in 2005, Paris), Ensemble Modern (Strange ritual, in 2005, Japan) and the Orchestre PoitouCharente (Terra ignota, in 2007, Niort and Paris).
In his recent work Philippe Manoury has shown that the voice is a form of expression he has especially liked to cultivate: as a solo surrounded by instruments (Cruel Spirals, in 2007), within a vocal ensemble (On-Iron in 2006 and Trakl Gedichte in 2007 were the result of a collaboration with Accentus) and in operatic form (60e Parallèle, in 1998 at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris; KÖ, based on Kafka’s The Trial, in 2001 at the Paris Opera; La Frontière, in 2003 at the National Theatre in Orléans).
The SACEM has awarded Philippe Manoury three prizes: Prize for chamber music (1976), Prize for best musical production (for Jupiter, 1988) and Grand Prix for symphonic music (1999). After receiving the Grand Prix for composition from the City of Paris 1998, he was awarded the Grand Prix of the SACD (2001) for his opera KÖ, the Prize of the French musical press (2001), and the ‘Prince Pierre Ier de Monaco’ Prize (2002)