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Maurice Dela: Biography

Maurice Dela
1919 - 1978
Region: Québec

Maurice Dela

Maurice Dela (1919-78), composer, arranger, organist and pianist, first studied organ and writing with Raoul Paquet, later attending the Montréal Conservatory (1943-47) where he studied writing and composition with Séverin Moisse and Claude Champagne. During the same period he took lessons in orchestration with Leo Sowerby in Chicago and J. J. Gagnier in Montréal.

Dela's first works are quite tonal. In fact, he was never attracted by avant-garde music and always remained indifferent to the opinions of critics. He was content, to use his own words, "to let his music go on its own happy little way. I have never adhered to any particular doctrine", he added. "As far as composition goes, I have always relied on my intuition."

He won the CAPAC prize (1947) for his Petite suite maritime and Ballade, the Tricentenary Prize of Laval University (1952) for Les fleurs de glais and, in 1960, the CFMTA prize for his Quatuor à cordes #l. His Sonatine for violin and piano has been played frequently in Canada and Europe and his Scherzo was performed in 1970 by the Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, directed by Carlos Vargos. He was an arranger and composer for the CBC (1951-65), in particular for the programmes "L'Heure du concert", "Sérénade pour cordes" and "Les Belles mélodies françaises", and later was director and supervisor of music education at André-Laurendeau Secondary School (1965-78). He also taught orchestration at the University of Québec in Montréal (1973-78). He was the organist at Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs Church in Verdun and wrote several articles for the review Les Carnets viatoriens.

Although the form of his most recent works remains classical, he often employed polytonality and he borrowed elements from serial music. He wrote pedagogical pieces, including several for recorder, some works for organ and piano, and he harmonized quite a number of popular songs and folksongs, in particular those of Gilles Vigneault. In June 1978, André-Laurendeau Secondary School dedicated its Albert-Phaneuf auditorium in his memory.

PROCAN, Canadian League of Composers

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