Christophe Olivier Maudot was born in 1961 in Lyons. He received a traditional musical education, both instrumental (piano) and theoretical (analysis, harmony) at the Lyons Regional Conservatory, where all his earliest works were first performed. He then continued his studies at the Paris Conservatory with Pierre Schaefer, Guy Reibel, Laurent Cuniot, Yves Gérard, Betsy Jolas and Alain Bernaud. Though particularly sensitive to the music of Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky and Luciano Berio, it was in discovering Déserts by Edgar Varèse that he decided to become a composer.
In 1982 he became programme adviser for the Orchestre National de France with its music director Lorin Maazel. For ten years he was thus able to indulge his passion for the symphony orchestra, frequenting and working with leading conductors.
Interesting himself in the musical potential of natural or urban sound environments, of new instruments and of the electroacoustic and digital transformations of sound, he worked in several studios, notably with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) of Ina, making arrangements, transcriptions and orchestrations.
His earliest compositional projects were based on these experiences with sound together with an exploration of microtonality. In the Sextuor for clarinet, horn, percussion, synthesiser, violin and cello (1987), he uses microtonal harmony, playing on the dynamic and energetic range of the ensemble considered as a small orchestra. With the Quintette for flute, clarinet, horn, violin and cello (commissioned by the festival Aujourd’hui Musiques, 1994), microtonality seems more than before to entail vertical writing and leaves plenty of scope for at times virtuosic instrumental writing, where care is taken to ensure the cohesion of each separate part, also affording each player the opportunity of developing a pause, a contour, a musical line.
Microtonality is sometimes sidelined, as in Sommeil d’embrun for flute, percussion and harp (1993), in which writing in semitones leads the composer to develop the musical phrases with a more narrational profile.
Christophe Maudot embraces the sounds of nature. In Les cendres du signe for example (commissioned by Radio France, 1994), he conjures up winds and clouds; similarly in Ciel Ether (commissioned by the Orchestre National de Lille, 1995), he makes reference to ancient Greece and the movement of cloudy masses through rhythm and counterpoint with often light orchestration, far from traditional massed orchestral effects. Les rives de Sélènes for orchestra (commissioned by the French State for the Orchestre Poitou-Charentes, 1998) presents marine and maritime sounds, the dream-like sounds of a port or a coming embarcation.
Christophe Maudot invented an enlarged sound world, notably in Sillages for orchestre and samplers (commissioned by the Orchestre National de Lille, 1999), where he mixes the sound of a symphony orchestra with sounds taken from a maritime environment. Thanks to the technological expertise of the group Art Zoyd and the virtuosity of the musicians of the Orchestre National de Lille, the play of the mixes, fusions, exchanges quite upsets the classical notion of a concerto or a confrontation. The juxtaposition of the concrete sounds and and their instrumental transcription is a driving element of the composition of Sillages, as in many of the composer’s scores.
In 1999 he was awarded the Prix Claude Arrieu, then in 2002 the Prix Sacem for the best pedagogical work for his method, written in collaboration with Philippe Berrod, of quarter tones for clarinets in B flat and A.
Christophe Maudot has collaborated with ensembles dedicated to twentieth-century music such as Apertus, Tm+, F, as well as with the Orchestre de l’Île-de-France, the Orchestre des Pays de la Loire and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. By associating the results of his research into sound with classical instruments, he has also provided music for the theatre, ballet and cinema.
In 2007, at the request of the Théâtre du Châtelet, he undertook some musical archaeology by preparing arrangements of and composing missing numbers for an operetta by Germaine Tillion, Le Verfügbar aux Enfers (1944). The complete work was premiered that same year by the Orchestre de Chambre Pelléas and the Maîtrise de Paris.
Christophe Maudot teaches instrumental composition at the Lyons Regional Conservatory.