Jean Dansereau

Jean (b Hector) Dansereau. Pianist, teacher, b Verchères, near Montreal, 21 Apr 1891, d Yorktown Heights, NY, 2 Nov 1974; honorary PH D (Montreal) 1940. Born into a family of musicians, he received his first lessons from his mother, a cousin of Calixa Lavallée.

Dansereau, Jean

Jean (b Hector) Dansereau. Pianist, teacher, b Verchères, near Montreal, 21 Apr 1891, d Yorktown Heights, NY, 2 Nov 1974; honorary PH D (Montreal) 1940. Born into a family of musicians, he received his first lessons from his mother, a cousin of Calixa Lavallée. He also studied with Angéline Normandin-McNamara and at the McGill Conservatory with Walter Hungerford. In 1913 he was soloist with the McGill University Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1. He was awarded the Prix d'Europe in 1914, but the war obliged him to postpone his departure for two years. In Paris he worked with Isidor Philipp, Édouard Risler, and Charles-Marie Widor. In 1920 he began to appear as pianist for such noted singers as Mary Garden, Rodolphe Plamondon, and Oscar Seagle, accompanying them on their European and North American tours. He was the resident accompanist 1924-5 at the studio of Jean de Reszke and upon the latter's death in 1925, he took the Christian name of Jean at the request of the Polish tenor's widow. He pursued his career in Europe and the USA until 1936, when he went to Vienna to work with Emil von Sauer.

In 1938, after an absence of almost 20 years, he marked his return to Canada with a brilliant performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 with the Orchestra of the Concerts Symphonique de Montréal. Subsequent recitals, often with commentary, won him a large following in Canada and the USA and also in Brazil, where he lived 1942-3. He gave weekly radio recitals for three months in Rio de Janeiro. In several of them he accompanied his wife, the soprano Muriel Tannahill.

He began teaching at the École supérieure de musique d'Outremont (École Vincent-d'Indy) in 1941 and at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal in 1943, the year of its foundation. He gave summer courses at the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto. Among his pupils were Jocelyn Binet, Auguste Descarries, Anna-Marie Globenski, Jeanne Landry, Clermont Pépin, Stella Plante, and Madeleine Raymond. Later he settled in the USA. His last visit to Canada was in the mid-1950s, when he played Chopin's Concerto No. 2 on the CBC TV program 'L'Heure du concert'.

The inspiration and sensitivity of Dansereau's playing clearly identify him with the romantic school. His repertoire rarely departed from the traditional composers. He was known particularly as an interpreter of Chopin and Debussy, and in 1953 he recorded a program of pieces by these composers for the LP RCI 94. In 1926 and 1929 he recorded 11 songs with the soprano Mary Garden for two series of discs by Victor; two of the songs were not released.

Dansereau's brother Alphonse, a violinist and a member of the Dubois String Quartet 1910-15, died in Montreal 13 Nov 1918.