Pierre Souvairan

Pierre (Julien Arnold) Souvairan. Pianist, teacher, b Montreux, Switzerland, of French parents and nationality, 30 Jul 1911, naturalized Swiss 1931, naturalized Canadian 1959, d Evolène, Switzerland, 28 Mar 2000; Diplôme de Virtuosité (Ribaupierre) 1930.

Souvairan, Pierre

Pierre (Julien Arnold) Souvairan. Pianist, teacher, b Montreux, Switzerland, of French parents and nationality, 30 Jul 1911, naturalized Swiss 1931, naturalized Canadian 1959, d Evolène, Switzerland, 28 Mar 2000; Diplôme de Virtuosité (Ribaupierre) 1930. After studies with André de Ribaupierre at the Institut Ribaupierre in Lausanne, he continued 1931-3 with Robert Teichmüller at the Bern Conservatory and briefly in 1933 with Alfred Cortot in Paris and Rudolf Serkin in Bern. He taught 1938-53 at the Bern Conservatory, gave recitals, and premiered many Swiss compositions in concert and on radio. In 1953 he joined the faculty of the University of Toronto and the RCMT; his pupils included Walter Delahunt, Mary-Nan Dutka, Anne Eggleston, Ralph Elsaesser, Leslie Kinton, Valery Lloyd-Watts, Mari-Elizabeth Morgen, Ann Southam, and Philip Thomson. He played Beethoven's Triple Concerto 29 and 30 Oct 1963 with Albert Pratz, Theo Salzman, and the TSO. He edited volumes of Debussy's piano music for Waterloo 1969-72, and functioned as an examiner and adjudicator. He retired in 1978 but continued to teach part-time and performed annually in Europe, and in Canada, in recital, with chamber ensembles, and with such orchestras as the CBC Symphony Orchestra.

The CBC recorded Souvairan, with Albert Pratz, playing sonatas for violin and piano by Morawetz and Turner; and Murray Adaskin's Sonata for violin and piano (CBC Radio Canada SM 211), with Lorand Fenyves.

Of a Souvairan recital in Toronto of works by Beethoven, Fauré, Ravel, and Schumann, Michael Schulman wrote in the Globe and Mail: 'There was nothing of pretense or self-consciousness in either Souvairan's manner or his music-making. He began each piece practically in the same motion with which he returned to the bench - no inward-searching pregnant pauses here. And the music, too, was unencumbered by arbitrary interpretive touches imposed from without' (6 Feb 1976). Following a later recital, Mairi MacLean (Edmonton Journal, 11 Feb 1989) stated that 'It was a performance by a statesman of the keyboard ... very personal and given with the warm assurance of vast experience.' Souvairan celebrated his 80th birthday by performing in recital (assisted by William Aide) at the University of Toronto, 14 Mar 1991, and later that month in solo recital at the RCMT. He moved to Switzerland but returned occasionally to Canada to give master classes and recitals (eg, at the University of Waterloo) until his death. His March 1996 recital at Leaside Presbyterian Church, Toronto, can be heard on the CD In memoriam: Pierre Souvairan (ECD 005 Echiquier).


Further Reading

  • "Pierre Souvairan," Noteworthy, summer 2000