Commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, Henri Dutilleux’s quartet Ainsi la Nuit was dedicated to the memory of one of the composer’s friends, Ernest Sussman and written in tribute to Olga Koussevitzky. The Parrenin Quartet gave it its European premiere on January 6, 1977 (Ensemble 2e2m in Paris). The American premiere with the Juilliard String Quartet shortly followed at the Library of Congress in Washington, in the presence of the composer, on April 13, 1978.
Ainsi la Nuit is divided into 7 sections that are bound together mainly by the use of parentheses that are often brief, but have an important organic role assigned to them. Allusions to what will follow—or what came before—are placed within the work as points of reference. As in other works by Henri Dutilleux, the idea of memory and all that is attached to it (foreshadowing, variations, etc.) is brought into play. Moreover, the form of the work implies a particular subdivision of time. Both the general and the various subtitles refer to a specific poetic or spiritual climate, but should in no way be taken as anecdotal.
Henri Dutilleux, Heugel and Cie [English translation: C Flint De Médicis, ii-07]