Amédée Tremblay

(Pierre-Joseph) Amédée Tremblay. Organist, composer, teacher, b Montreal 14 Apr 1876, d Los Angeles 1949. He began study at 12 with Father Sauvé, the organist at St-Joseph Church, Montreal, continuing with Alcibiade Béique (piano and organ) and Father Cléophas Borduas (Gregorian chant).

Tremblay, Amédée

(Pierre-Joseph) Amédée Tremblay. Organist, composer, teacher, b Montreal 14 Apr 1876, d Los Angeles 1949. He began study at 12 with Father Sauvé, the organist at St-Joseph Church, Montreal, continuing with Alcibiade Béique (piano and organ) and Father Cléophas Borduas (Gregorian chant). Though he competed successfully for the post of organist at the Dominican Church, St-Hyacinthe, he accepted instead a post at St-Joseph Church in Montreal, which he held 1892-4. In 1894 he founded a choral society, the Orphéon de St-Joseph, which became the Orphéon Goulet when J.-J. Goulet succeeded Tremblay as director in 1895. Tremblay was organist 1894-1920 at Notre-Dame Basilica in Ottawa and was a prominent figure in the musical life of the capital as an organist, composer, and teacher. His pupils included Wilfrid Charette, Oscar O'Brien, and his own son, the composer George (Amédée). Tremblay Sr moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1920 as organist at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, then settled in 1925 in Los Angeles as organist at St Vincent's Roman Catholic church, remaining there until his death.

Like Alexis Contant, Tremblay was one of the few major musicians of his time whose training was exclusively Canadian. Though to some degree self-taught, he wrote works which attracted the attention of Guillaume Couture and Vincent d'Indy. His best-known work, Suite de quatre pièces pour grand orgue (J. Fischer 1924), dedicated to Joseph Bonnet, is noted for its finale, a brilliant toccata. Tremblay also wrote two masses, some motets, and a few patriotic songs. His operetta L'Intransigeant was produced in Ottawa in 1906. With Achille Fortier and Alfred La Liberté, Tremblay was among the first to make concert arrangements of French-Canadian folksongs. His collection, Dix-huit Chansons populaires du Canada was published in 1902 in Ottawa by Orme. Other works were published in Le Passe-Temps and by Archambault.

His son George (b Ottawa 14 Jan 1911, d Tijuana, Mexico, 14 Jul 1982) was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles, where he took up residence in 1925, and there founded in 1965 the School for the Discovery and Advancement of New Serial Techniques. George Tremblay's works, which reflect a wide range of influences, include three quartets, three sonatas, and three symphonies, one of which was recorded by the Hamburg SO (CRI S-224). There is a substantial article on his life and works in David Ewen's American Composers, A Biographical Dictionary (New York 1982).