Henri Dutillleux was born in Angers (France) on 22 January 1916. As early as his school days, he began to study piano, harmony and counterpoint with Victor Gallois at the Douai Conservatoire. From 1933-1938 he attended the Paris Conservatoire, studying harmony and counterpoint with Jean and Noël Gallon, composition with Henri Paul Busser and music history with Maurice Emmanuel. After his brief military service, Dutilleux returned to Paris in 1940 where he earned a living as a pianist, arranger and teacher before becoming choral director at the Paris Opera in 1942. From 1945 to 1963 he held the post of director of music productions with the French radio company ORTF. From 1961 to 1970 he taught composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris until he returned to the Paris Conservatoire for two years as guest professor.
Among the numerous honours and prizes awarded to Henri Dutilleux are the Grand Prix de Rome (1938), the French Grand Prix National de la Musique (1967), the Praemium Imperiale (1994) in recognition of his oeuvre, the Cannes Classical Award for his orchestral work The Shadows of Time (1999) and the Grand Prix 1999 de la Presse Musicale Internationale. In 2005 Dutilleux received the Ernst von Siemens Music Award, two years later the MIDEM Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2011 the Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic. In addition, Henri Dutilleux has been an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1981 and of the Académie Royale de Belgique.
Henri Dutilleux died on 22 May 2013 in Paris.