Born: February 18, 1929; Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: June 2, 1968; Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canadian pianist and composer André Mathieu (or René André Rodolphe Mathieu, as he was christened in Montreal on February 18, 1929) is a modern example of the ill-fated child prodigy; for, like Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert before him, he was destined to die in his thirties. Mathieu was the son of noted Canadian composer and educator Rodolphe Mathieu, and as such received top-notch musical training during early childhood. His enviable skillsRead more were quick to manifest themselves, and his of three Études for piano when he was only four years old! (It seems that his father touched them up very little, which could not be said of Mozart's earliest pieces.) Mathieu made a recital debut in Montreal in 1935, a few days after his sixth birthday, and quickly became a national sensation. The government of Quebec provided funding for Mathieu to study piano in Paris for a few years; from 1940 on, he led the life of a touring pianist, while studying in composition with Harold Morris in New York City. In 1946, Mathieu returned to Paris for further study with composer Arthur Honegger and pianist Jules Gentil. Two years later, he returned to Canada for good, working as performer and teacher. It was a huge loss for Canada's musical world when Mathieu died in 1968.
Mathieu, who wrote principally for his own instrument, kept his distance from the musical language and style of the twentieth century, preferring a lush Romantic idiom. There are some piano concertos, including the aptly-named Concerto Romantique (also known as the Concerto de Québec), several chamber pieces (including a Piano Trio and a Piano Quartet), and a handful of solo piano pieces. Mathieu's music was featured prominently at the closing ceremonies of the Montreal Olympics of 1976. Read less
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