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Henri Dutilleux's Symphony No. 2 Le Double is an orchestral work completed in 1959, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation for the 75th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Symphony No. 2
Le Double
by Henri Dutilleux
Composed1959 (1959)

It is written for an orchestra and a second group comprising an oboe, a clarinet, a bassoon, a trumpet, a trombone, two violins, a viola, a cello, a harpsichord, a celesta, and kettledrums.[1]


The work consists of back and forth between the two instrumental groups, like that of a concerto grosso although the approach is different: in this piece, the smaller ensemble acts as a mirror or ghost of the larger one, sometimes playing similar or complementary lines, sometimes contrasting ones.[2]

In Dutilleux's own words:

My work incorporates a rather singular formation. Division into two groups: in the first, 12 musicians chosen amongst the first desk players, disposed in a semi-circle around the conductor; in the second, the entire orchestra. This arrangement can hardly help evoking the traditional concerto grosso, although my ideal in fact has been to escape from this form whose pre-fabricated dimension seems incompatible with contemporary language. I thus endeavoured to avoid the stumbling block of the somewhat archaic form; the twelve musicians of the smaller orchestra considered separately do not constantly play the role of soloists; it is the mass they form that constitutes the solo element. This mass does not merely confront and dialogue with the larger formation, but at times fuses with, or superimposes itself upon the latter, leaving ample opportunity for polyrhyhthmics and polytonality.[3]


The symphony has three movements, a performance taking around a half-hour.

  1. Animato, ma misterioso
  2. Andantino sostenuto
  3. Allegro fuocoso — Calmato


  1. ^ "Symphonie N° 2 "Le Double", Henri Dutilleux". Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  2. ^ Liner notes from the CD by Simon Marin: Erato 0630-14068-2
  3. ^ Seen and Heard International: Glyn Pursglove, "Concert Review: Dutilleux, Bartok", accessed 26 May 2013