Hubert Bédard

Hubert (François) Bédard. Restorer and maker of period keyboard instruments, harpsichordist, organist, b Ottawa 28 Dec 1933, d Brignoles, France, 16 Jun 1989. After medical studies in Ottawa he decided to devote himself to music.

Bédard, Hubert

Hubert (François) Bédard. Restorer and maker of period keyboard instruments, harpsichordist, organist, b Ottawa 28 Dec 1933, d Brignoles, France, 16 Jun 1989. After medical studies in Ottawa he decided to devote himself to music. He studied 1957-9 with Kenneth Gilbert (harpsichord) and Bernard Lagacé (organ) at the CMM and completed his harpsichord training 1960-1 in Vienna with Isolde Ahlgrimm and Eta Harisch Schneider. The idea of attempting to rediscover the authentic sounds of earlier musical eras came to him while he was working with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam in 1961. To put his idea into practice, he studied harpsichord manufacture 1962-6 in Boston with Frank Hubbard. When the latter was asked in 1967 to assess the work required to restore the instruments at the museum of the Paris Cons, he took Bédard with him, and Bédard remained in France as director of the museum's restoration workshop.

The Brussels Museum of old instruments and similar museums in Amiens, Besançon, Chartres, and Antwerp, entrusted Bédard with the repair and restoration of their priceless holdings. Laurence Boulay, Huguette Dreyfus, Huguette Grémy-Chauliac, and the conservatories of Brussels and Paris commissioned harpsichords from him. For the publishing house Heugel he designed a spinet, a French harpsichord, and an Italian harpsichord according to the style and work methods of the 17th century. In addition he gave numerous lecture demonstrations throughout Europe on the making of string instruments and on early music, and participated as a performer and commentator on radio programs. Belgian, Canadian, and French TV recorded programs in his workshop, at the Château de Maintenon. Bédard was considered an authority on the restoration of harpsichords, clavichords, etc (he had restored more than 60 at the time of his death) and an expert in the manufacture both of authentic copies of such instruments and of 'do-it-yourself' kits. He was a member of a UNESCO international commission for the preservation of old instruments and received the medal of Antwerp in 1970. With Félia Bastet, he translated Frank Hubbard's monumental work on the history of harpsichord construction. The book appeared in translation as Le Clavecin. Trois siècles de facture (Nogent-le-Roi, France, 1982). Following his death, his colleague and friend Reinhard von Nagel wrote: 'The work of this Canadian, who resided in France since 1967, played a decisive role in the renewal of instrument building in our country' (Paris Le Monde, 22 Jun 1989). Bédard recorded the Suites no. 4, 7, 8, and 11 by Georg Boehm and those in G minor and F major by Louis Couperin (1964, Pirouette and Janus JAS-19019). He was a first cousin of Gilles Potvin.

Writing

Hubert Bédard, 'La restauration des clavecins anciens,' VM, 12, Jun 1969


Further Reading

  • Conquer, Thérèse. 'Hubert Bédard: à la recherche de sons d'antan,'' CMB, 8, Spring-Summer 1974

    Laurier, Marie. 'Hubert Bédard, facteur de clavecins anciens,' Montréal, Le Devoir, 8 Jan 1985