Houdret, Charles

Charles Houdret. Conductor, cellist, composer, b Liège 6 Jul 1905. He studied cello with André Hekking in Paris and composition with Sylvain Dupuis at the Liège Cons, from which he received a diploma. He continued his studies in Brussels with Eugène Ysaÿe (chamber music) and in Vienna with Felix Weingartner (conducting). Ysaÿe presented him to King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, who put him in charge of the orchestra of the royal chapel, with which he recorded Schubert's Symphony No. 5 for His Master's Voice in 1942 (3 78s DB-5099-101). He conducted numerous concerts in Europe before coming to Canada in 1952 at the invitation of the Montreal Festivals to conduct the incidental music to Fauchois's drama Beethoven.

Houdret stayed in Canada to become music director for the Montreal radio station CKVL. In April 1954, at the Palais du Commerce, he directed five performances of Parsifal, the first given in Canada since 1905. In 1959 he was engaged to conduct the Canadian premiere of Humphrey Searle's The Diary of a Madman on CBC radio. In 1955 he had conducted the CMM Orchestra in a recording (RCI 127) of Handel's Concerto Grosso No. 10 and an arrangement for string orchestra of Corelli's Trio Sonata, Opus 1, and in 1960 he was put in charge of the CMM's orchestra classes. That same year, with the CMM orchestra at Plateau Hall, he gave the premiere of Prévost'sPoème de l'infini. In Toronto in 1960 Houdret conducted the CBC Symphony Orchestra in the premiere of Champagne'sAltitude and in Turner's Opening Night; both performances were preserved on the LP RCI 179, and respectively on 7-ACM 15 and 4-ACM 30. He conducted the CBC SO 10 times between 1954 and 1964. As a cellist, Houdret recorded the six Boccherini sonatas with the pianist Monique Marcil (1963, Bar BC-1815-2815). In August 1963 he helped found and organize the Montreal International Music Competition. Nothing is known of Houdret's activities after 1964.