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Rodolphe Mathieu: Biography

Rodolphe Mathieu
1890 - 1962
Region: Québec

Rodolphe Mathieu

RODOLPHE MATHIEU was born in Grondines near Québec City on July 10, 1890. Like several of his colleagues in those days, he became involved in many aspects of musical life, be it in composition, teaching, harmony or performance (pianist). He left his rural home at the age of 16 moving to Montréal where he would learn his musical fundamentals. It was thanks to Alfred Laliberté that he discovered the theories and compositions of the Russian composer Scriabin whose influence can be heard in two works: Chevauchée and Sonate.

Starting in 1907, Mathieu became organist at the church of Saint-Jean Berchmans, giving lessons in piano, solfeggio, harmony and counterpoint to future winners of the Prix d'Europe, Wilfrid Pelletier and Auguste Descarries. It was while studying with Alexis Contant that Mathieu decided to become a composer. Thanks to a scholarship established by his friends, he left for Paris in 1920. He studied composition and orchestration with Vincent d'Indy and Louis Aubert. His song Un peu d'ombre (1913) was performed at the Concerts Lamourex in Paris in 1926 and in London by Sara Fischer.

One of the first recipients of a grant from the Québec Government, he prolonged his stay in France until 1927. Back in Montréal, he returned to teaching and writing but above all dedicated himself to the career of his son, André (pianist).

Without being informed by serialism, for he vigorously denounced this writing technique, his music nevertheless "tries to escape tonality and avoid repetitions". Strongly interested in rigorous constructions and organized microstructures, Mathieu was also attracted to post-romantic expression.

One can easily see that Mathieu's music belongs to the tradition of new Canadian music. He died in Montréal on June 29, 1962, and his name was given to a street in north-east Montréal in 1965.



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