Le Tao de Pierrot

Program note

Written between July and October 2019, “Le Tao de Pierrot”, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, was commissioned by Ensemble Paramirabo with funding from the Centre d’Expérimentation Musicale.

The piece could be described as an imaginary pantomime, inspired by the character of Pierrot, a buffoonish valet from Commedia dell-arte, a form of popular Italian theatre.

Each of the ten tableaux explores and illustrates the relationship between this imaginary Pierrot and a poetic element of a fictional biography:

Referring to both Taoist tradition and the character of Pierrot, the title of the piece could evoke:

A. The Tao, the principle the generates all that exists, the fundamental force that flows in everything in the universe and, in the context of the piece, the idea of a musical microcosm that suggests a cosmological vision at the centre of which can be found... our friend Pierrot.

B. The concept of Yin and Yang, a binary system of classification. The first five tableaux can be associated with the Yin, darkness, and the moon, while the five last ones are more the expression of the Yang, light, and the sun. This leads to conceptual, formal, and aesthetic balance.

C. The idea of an initiation story in which Pierrot, according to an internal alchemic process, transforms his initial (and traditional) sorrowful temperament and experiences a kind of awakening.

D. Lastly, there is a wink and a humble nod to Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (Opus 21), an absolute musical masterpiece of the twentieth century whose profound originality is most notably the origin of the popular instrumental grouping of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (and in this case, percussion), an ensemble known as a “Pierrot” ensemble and the core group for Ensemble Paramirabo.

The piece is loosely inspired by the Tarot de Marseille’s symbolism and numerology, while the programmatic “action” takes place in an imaginary and mystical Europe, in the late Middle Ages to early Renaissance period.


I. Pierrot’s Lunar Origin
II. Pierrot’s Dark Side
III. Pierrot’s Inner Forest
IV. Pierrot’s War Period
V. Pierrot’s Final Campaign
VI. Pierrot’s Pardon
VII. Pierrot’s Charriot
VIII. Pierrot’s Knightly Etudes
IV. Pierrot’s Dream of the Second Attention 
X. Pierrot’s Lucky Star



Year of composition
Commissioned by Paramirabo
Funded by
Centre d’Expérimentation Musicale
Piccolo /
C flute /
B-flat clarinet /
B-flat bass clarinet /
Violin /
Cello /
Piano /
Vibraphone /
Crotales /
Gong - C2 /
Gong - G2 /
Tubular bells /
Bass drum (orchestral) /
Snare drum /

Last performances