Jean-Marie Beaudet

Jean-Marie (or Jean) Beaudet. Conductor, pianist, administrator, organist, b Thetford-Mines, Que, south of Quebec City, 20 Feb 1908, d Ottawa 19 Mar 1971; BA (Séminaire de Québec) 1928, diplôme de virtuosité (Fontainebleau) ca 1930. Brother of Pierre Beaudet.

Beaudet, Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie (or Jean) Beaudet. Conductor, pianist, administrator, organist, b Thetford-Mines, Que, south of Quebec City, 20 Feb 1908, d Ottawa 19 Mar 1971; BA (Séminaire de Québec) 1928, diplôme de virtuosité (Fontainebleau) ca 1930. Brother of Pierre Beaudet. He studied piano and organ at the Collège de Lévis with Father Alphonse Tardif, and at the Séminaire de Québec with Henri Gagnon and Robert Talbot. After winning the Prix d'Europe for organ in 1929, he studied 1929-32 in Paris, first at the American Cons at Fontainebleau with Pierre Lucas, and later at the Paris Cons with Yves Nat (piano), Marcel Dupré (organ), and Louis Aubert (harmony). Upon his return to Canada he taught at Laval University and became organist at St-Dominique Church in Quebec City. He also began a career as a pianist, playing Beethoven's Concerto No. 3, the Schumann Concerto, and other works in appearances 1935-7 with the CSM orchestra and in 1937 with the Cercle philharmonique de Québec. Responding to his interest in conducting, Wilfrid Pelletier invited him to share certain concerts in the 1936-7 season of the CSM orchestra, and Beaudet distinguished himself in Jacques Ibert's Escales, the Franck Symphony, and other works, and conducted some summer concerts.

Beaudet relinquished his posts in Quebec City and accepted a position with the CBC where, successively 1937-47, he was program director for the Quebec region, national music supervisor, program director for the French network, and that network's representative in the Pacific region. In addition he assisted in the compilation of the 1947 Catalogue of Canadian Composers (see Dictionaries). He also, 1936-46 for CBC radio, conducted several major works including Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ, the Fauré Requiem, Honegger's Le Roi David, and Pierné's Les Enfants à Bethléhem. He was responsible for bringing about the considerably larger role of music in CBC programming and for the decisions leading to the first operas commissioned by the CBC: Willan's Transit through Fire (1942) and Deirdre of the Sorrows (1945). In the summer of 1944 the NBC invited the CBC to take part in its series 'Music of the New World'. Beaudet prepared and conducted eight programs under the title 'Canadian Music in Wartime,' featuring 15 major works by Lucio Agostini, Arthur Benjamin (at that time living in Canada), Blachford, Blackburn, Brott, Champagne, Coulthard, Farnon, Fleming, J.-J. Gagnier, Gratton, Walter, Weinzweig, Willan, and others. He also conducted a 1943 performance of Carmen at the St Denis Theatre with singers from the Metropolitan Opera and gave a 1946 recital of piano music of Debussy at the Ermitage. His European conducting debut, 13 May 1946 at the Prague Spring Festival, was in a concert of Canadian works (Blackburn, Brott, Champagne, MacMillan, Tanguay, and Willan) by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Beaudet left the CBC in 1947 to free himself from administrative duties and devote himself to music. Even so, when the CBC IS was formed after World War II, he was responsible for the series 'Music and Musicians of Canada' (1948-9), which promoted Canadian music abroad. For it he selected works by Archer, Blackburn, Brott, Champagne, Coulthard, Matton, Mercure, Morel, Papineau-Couture, Pentland, Somers, Weinzweig, and others.

He taught 1947-52 at the CMM (orchestra class) and also at the École supérieure de musique d'Outremont (École Vincent-d'Indy), where Jocelyne Binet, Josephte Dufresne, and Elayne Julien were among his pupils. He also accompanied Raoul Jobin, Marjorie Lawrence, Ezio Pinza, Georges Thill, Ninon Vallin (1947), and others in recitals across Canada, and appeared as a duo-pianist with Jeanne Landry. Continuing his conducting career, in 1949 he directed Tosca for the Montreal Festivals, Bizet's complete incidental music for L'Arlésienne for a production of the Daudet play in St-Laurent, Que, and Milhaud's opera Le Pauvre Matelot for Montreal's Minute Opera. For the CBC in 1951 he conducted the MSO, the Quebec, Vancouver, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, and a performance of Faust.

With the aid of a grant from the Royal Society of Canada he went to Paris in 1952. Returning in October 1953, he conducted 16 performances of Madama Butterfly for the Variétés lyriques before moving to Toronto where he served 1953-7 as director of production and program planning for CBC radio. During those years he conducted many of the major programs both on radio ('CBC Wednesday Night') and on TV ('Heure du concert' and 'CBC Folio'), presenting such works as Pierné's Les Enfants à Bethléhem and Dvořák's Requiem in 1954; Puccini's La Bohème, Ravel's L'Heure espagnole, Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, and Gluck's Alceste in 1955; Martinu°'s Comedy on the Bridge and Massenet's Werther in 1956; and Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie, Gounod's Mireille, and Bizet's Carmen in 1957. From 1953 to 1964 he also frequently conducted the CBC Symphony Orchestra, often in Canadian premieres (eg, the Dukas Symphonie and Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie), and once (1955) in a rare public concert, part of a summer festival in Montreal.

After serving 1957-9 as the CBC's representative in Paris, Beaudet returned to Canada and was executive secretary 1959-61 of the Canadian Music Centre. He conducted again for the CBC, notably Sauguet's Les Caprices de Marianne (1959, radio) and Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (1960, TV). While he was assistant vice-president in charge of programming at the CBC, 1961-4, Beaudet conducted Rameau's Les Fêtes d'Hébé for TV. For the Montreal Festivals he conducted eight performances of Offenbach's Barbe-bleue in 1959 and operas by Blackburn (Silent Measures), Somers (The Fool), and Vallerand (Le Magicien) in 1962. Leaving the CBC for the last time in 1964, he became music director for the NAC and served in that position until his death. Among his responsibilities at the centre was the assembling of the permanent orchestra (NACO) which made its distinguished debut in 1969 under its conductor Mario Bernardi.

Both as a competent and sensitive conductor and as a bold and enlightened administrator Jean-Marie Beaudet played a notable role in the development of Canadian music. He conducted CBC orchestras in several first recordings of symphonic works by Canadian composers, including Blackburn, Champagne, Gagnier, Pépin, and Willan. In 1971, he was awarded the Canadian Music Council Medal posthumously. The same year the Jean-Marie Beaudet Fund for aspiring conductors was created by the Music Dept of the University of Ottawa. The Jean-Marie Beaudet Award for young conductors was established by the Canada Council in 1988.

Writings

Jean-Marie Beaudet, 'Composition,' Music in Canada

'The National Arts Centre,' MSc, 244, Nov-Dec 1968


Further Reading

  • 'Profile: Jean Beaudet,' CBC Times, 4-10 Mar 1951

    Sauvé, Wilfrid P. 'L'orchestre du Centre national des arts,' JMC, vol 15, Apr 1969

    Arthur, Gérard. 'Jean Beaudet,' CMB, 2, Spring - Summer 1971

    Thériault, Jacques. 'Portrait d'un musicien Jean-Marie Beaudet,' Culture Vivante, Summer 1971