François Brassard | The Canadian Encyclopedia


François Brassard

In 1940 Brassard began his important work in the research, compilation, editing, and harmonization of French-Canadian folksongs.

Brassard, François

 François (Joseph) Brassard. Composer, ethnomusicologist, organist, critic, teacher, pianist, b St-Jérôme (Métabetchouan, Saguenay), Que, 6 Oct 1908, d Quebec City 26 Apr 1976; BA (Laval) 1928, honorary D MUS (Laval) 1961, honorary D MUS (U du Québec à Chicoutimi) 1984. He studied piano at the Chicoutimi Seminary with Father H. Fortin, then with Rolland-G. Gingras, and also organ with Omer Létourneau, and began harmony with J.-Robert Talbot. A scholarship student at the AMQ in 1930, he also studied in Montreal with Léo-Pol Morin (piano) and Claude Champagne (counterpoint and fugue). He supplemented his studies 1933-4 in Paris with Albert Bertelin and Guy de Lioncourt and in 1935 at the RCM with Ralph Vaughan Williams. Appointed the organist at the Church of St-Dominique in Jonquière in 1930, he maintained that position intermittently until 1970. He began teaching at Laval University in 1946 and was appointed to the publications committee of the university's Archives de folklore that same year. He joined that department in 1971.

In 1940 Brassard began his important work in the research, compilation, editing, and harmonization of French-Canadian folksongs. He collected some 1200 songs or variants during trips in Quebec, New Brunswick (Acadia), Ontario, western Canada, New England, the upper Mississippi, and Louisiana and wrote numerous articles, essays, and analyses which were published in Canada and abroad. His harmonizations were heard on the CBC 1959-61 in the series of programs presented by the Petit Ensemble vocal and 1965-7 in the series 'Au bois du rossignolet,' for which he prepared the scripts and served as animateur.

Brassard's compositions are rooted in tradition. He believed, to use his own words, 'in renewal through simplicity,' and acknowledged certain influences, particularly from polyphony, the language of tonality, and folk and liturgical song. In 1942 his Panis angelicus was awarded a prize by the Société des musiciens d'église de la province de Québec. A member of the CFMS (CSMT) and of the IFMC, he was the Canadian delegate in 1949 at the latter organization's conference in Venice. He received grants 1961-2 from the Canada Council and 1965-6 from the MACQ. In 1964 he began appearing as a guest professor at the University of Montreal, and in 1966 he delivered lectures at the Museo del Pueblo Español in Madrid. In 1965 the new concert hall of the Collège de Jonquière was named Salle François-Brassard. In 1974 he received the Canadian Music Council medal. He contributed to EMC. Some of his papers are held at Laval University.

Selected Compositions

Sonatine. 1936. Org. Arch 1938

Luminures. 1938. Pf. MCA 1969

Orléanaises. 1939. Pf. BMIC 1953 ('Les Noisettes' and 'Oratoire à la croisée des chemins'). ('Oratoire... chemins') RCI 134 (Newmark)

Panis angelicus. 1942. V, organ. Procure générale de musique 1942

Chansons populaires de l'Amérique française (arr) I: 1946. V, piano. Ms; II: 1947. SATB. MCA 1973; III: 1956. V, piano. Ms; IV: 1959. SATB. MCA 1969; V: 1959. SATB, piano. Ms; II and IV were recorded on Vox STLP-511.860 (Montreal Bach Choir)

Other works: Marche fantasque et festival (1949), Matapédienne (1969?) and Vigile (1973) for orch; Poème d'amour et de joie (1967) for bar and orch; Suite Villageoise (1948) for violin and piano; Basilicale no 1 (1962) and 2 (1969) for organ; Petites chansons populaires de l'Amérique (1972) arr for chorus.


All manuscript François Brassard, 'Étude monographique sur les orgues de la cathédrale,' Progrès du Saguenay, 14 Oct 1937

'La musique en Nouvelle-France acadienne,' Horizons, May, Sep 1939

'Où l'on fond nos cloches,' R dominicaine, Mar 1940

'Chansons de la Louisiane,' Action nationale, Apr 1940

'Naissance d'une chanson,' Ensemble, Apr 1941

'Léo-Pol Morin et la composition canadienne,' Canada français, Mar 1942

'La chanson acadienne,' Action nationale, Apr 1942

'Quand m'y marierai-je?' Canada français, Mar 1944

'Chansons folkloriques,' 20e siècle, 4 instalments, Jun 1944, Apr 1945, Jun, Nov 1946

'Le miroir d'argent,' Canada français, Sep 1944

'La résurrection des chansons d'Acadie,' R de l'U Laval, Nov 1946

'Chansons d'accompagnement,' J of the IFMC, vol 2, Mar 1950

'Le retour du soldat et le retour du voyageur,' JAF, 248, Apr-Jun 1950

'Une date pour la musique canadienne,' R de l'U Laval, Apr 1951

'Une date pour la musique canadienne: la Symphonie gaspésienne de Claude Champagne,' Vie musicale, Oct 1952

'La chanson folklorique du Saguenay,' Progrès du Saguenay, 5 Sep 1953

'A même une réserve sans fond,' Bon Temps, Mar-Apr 1958

'Les Thèmes d'emprunt,' Musicien amateur, Winter 1966

'French-Canadian folk music studies: a survey,' Ethnomusicology, vol 16, Sep 1972

'Le canot d'écorce - formation d'une grande chanson du fonds canadien,' CMB, 9, Autumn-Winter 1974

'Petit chansonniers anthologiques,' Dictionnaire des oeuvres littéraires du Québec, vol l, ed Maurice Lemire (Montreal 1978)

Also many articles in La Lyre (1928-30), Progrès du Saguenay (1928-53), Le Béret (1929-30), Musical America (1929-31), Action catholique (1933, 1937), P-T (1934-5), Alma Mater (1936-53), Archives de folklore (1946-9), and Le Réveil of Jonquière (1946-58), of which certain ones were signed Braz Arpiani or Thibaut de Champagne

Further Reading