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Jacques Hétu: Biography

Jacques Hétu
1938 - 2010
Region: Québec

Jacques Hétu

Jacques Hétu was born in Trois-Rivières on August 8, 1938. He died in Saint-Hippolyte on February 9, 2010. In 1956 he was accepted into the Montréal Conservatory where he studied composition with Clermont Pépin. In 196l he completed his studies at the Conservatory, winning prizes in harmony, counterpoint and composition. In the same year he won the composition prize of the Festival du Québec, the prestigious Prix d'Europe and a Canada Council award. From 1961 to 1963 he studied with Henri Dutilleux at the École Normale de Musique in Paris and took Olivier Messiaen's class in analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris.

Hétu gave priority to poetry, emotion and to coherent discourse; he was also sensitive to the plastic aspects of sonority and the structural rigour of his contemporaries. Within traditional forms, he arranged elements in a cyclical manner based on the affirmative force of the thematic material, rigorous writing and the requirement for unity. Hétu became preoccupied with simplifying his language by broadening his framework and also developing ever more lyrical expression.

Since 1967 he has written only commissioned pieces. These include compositions for a number of artists and ensembles, including James Campbell, Robert Cram, Yegor Dyachkov, André Laplante, Alvaro Pierri, Joseph Rouleau, Robert Silverman, Alain Trudel, the symphony orchestras of Montréal, Toronto, Quebec city, Edmonton and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, the Vancouver New Music Society, the Jeunesses Musicales of Canada, the Montréal International Competition, the Canadian Music Competitions, and for CBC / Radio-Canada.

The works of Hétu include four symphonies; concertos for piano (1969, 1999), bassoon (1979), clarinet (1983), trumpet (1987), ondes Martenot (1990), flute (1991), guitar (1994), trombone (1995), marimba (1997), horn (1998), organ (2001), oboe and English horn (2004), and a Triple concerto for violin, cello and piano (2002); works for voice and orchestra including Les Abîmes du Rêve (1982) and the Missa pro trecentesimo anno (1985), for the Bach tercentenary; an opera, Le Prix, as well as several chamber pieces.

In 1990, Pinchas Zukerman invited Jacques Hétu to tour with Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra to Germany, Denmark and Great Britain. Zukerman had chosen two of his works: his Third Symphony (1971) and Antinomie (1977). In November, 1990, Images de la Révolution (1988), commissioned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for the bicentenary of the French Revolution, was performed by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Charles Dutoit. In May, 1992, Kurt Mazur and the New York Philharmonic presented the U.S. première of the Trumpet Concerto, with Philip Smith as the soloist. The following year, Le Tombeau de Nelligan (1992) was premiered in Paris by l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France. In 1995, also in Paris, his Concerto for ondes Martenot was premiered by Jean Laurendeau and l'Orchestre National de France conducted by Charles Dutoit. His Concerto for organ was written for the inauguration in September 2002 of the new organ of the Winspear Center for Music in Edmonton and his Triple Concerto was premiered by The Trio Hochelaga and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in July 2003.

Jacques Hétu lived near Montreal where, between 1979 and 2000, he taught at the University of Quebec in Montreal. From 1964 to 1978 he taught at Laval University in Quebec City. Hetu is member of the Royal Society of Canada (1989) and Officer of the Order of Canada (2001).

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