Jacques Hétu

Biography

Born: August 8, 1938; Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada  
French-Canadian composer Jacques Hétu, for years one of his country's most prominent musicians and a teacher of considerable note, was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, on the eighth day of the eighth month in 1938. He learned piano as a youth and then, in 1955, went to study music for one year at the University of Ottawa. The next five years were spent at the more prestigious Montreal Conservatory, where he took the school's premier prix in Read more composition in 1961 and during which time he also went down for summer study at Tanglewood (then still called the Berkshire Music Center) with American composer Lukas Foss. After graduating from the Conservatory, Hétu was awarded a Canadian government scholarship to study in Paris; he took lessons from Henri Dutilleux and Olivier Messiaen and earned a diploma from the École Normale de Musique in 1963.

Upon his return to Quebec in 1963, Hétu was immediately asked to join the faculty of Laval University; he taught composition there for 14 years (1963 - 1977). He has also taught at Montreal University and, all throughout the 1980s and 1990s, at the University of Quebec at Montreal. Hétu is prized throughout Quebec as perhaps its most gifted and thoroughly trained academic composer, and, as the above resumé clearly shows, his teaching has always been in demand. Hétu is for the most part a traditionalist-oriented musician. The usual orchestral, chamber, and vocal genres are his preferred playing field and he has shunned electronic music altogether. There are three symphonies with his name on them (1959, 1961, 1971), and also an important series of concertos for various solo instruments including piano, bassoon, trumpet, violin, flute, and clarinet. His vocal music naturally makes use of French texts and has a lyrical quality that sometimes disguises the dissonances in his music. Read less