Françoys Bernier

Françoys (Joseph Arthur Maurice) Bernier. Pianist, conductor, producer, administrator, teacher, b Quebec City 12 Jul 1927, d Quebec City 3 Feb 1993. He began his musical studies as a child with his grandfather, Joseph-Arthur.

Bernier, Françoys

Françoys (Joseph Arthur Maurice) Bernier. Pianist, conductor, producer, administrator, teacher, b Quebec City 12 Jul 1927, d Quebec City 3 Feb 1993. He began his musical studies as a child with his grandfather, Joseph-Arthur. Towards the end of his academic studies 1939-47 at the seminary in Quebec City he began his mature musical studies, most of which he completed 1945-50 at the CMQ, with Hélène Landry, Françoise Aubut, Ria Lenssens, Henri Gagnon, and Alphonse Tardif. He continued to study 1949-50 at Laval University with Marius Cayouette and Lucien Brochu. From 1950 to 1952 he taught music at the college of Gravelbourg, Sask, and served as program director of the town's radio station, CFRG. He joined the French network of the CBC in Montreal in 1953 as a radio producer of music programs, including 'Premières,' and in 1954 he took over the production of the TV shows 'Concerts pour la jeunesse' and 'L'Heure du concert.' Among the works he produced were Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat (1955) and Les Noces (1956), Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges (1956, 1957), Gounod's Faust (1957), Puccini's Madama Butterfly (1958), Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (1958), Massenet's Manon (1960), and Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (1960). He also served 1956-60 as music director of the Montreal Festivals and directed the Laval University Choir 1959-64. With Gilles Potvin he presented Wilhelm Kempff 1961-4 in recitals in Canada.

During his terms as general director 1960-6 and artistic director 1966-8 of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Bernier emphasized French and Canadian music and also championed other contemporary music, presenting important works by Messiaen and Berg. On Canada Council grants, 1962 and 1963, he studied scores and conducting in Europe with Sergiu Celibidache (Siena), and Hermann Scherchen (Salzburg). He conducted the Quebec Symphony Orchestra in the premieres of Matton'sMouvement symphonique no. 1 (1960) and Te Deum (1967), and Garant'sOuranos (1963). Bernier guest-conducted in France, his assignments including the Orchestre des Concerts Colonne in Paris and the orchestras of Bordeaux and the ORTF, the latter in 1969 in the European premiere of Matton's Te Deum (Fonovox VOX 7816-2, 1995). (See also Discography for Robert Savoie.)

After serving 1960-8 as assistant director of the CMQ, Bernier became the first director of the Music Department of the University of Ottawa, 1969-76; he taught there until 1992. He was a board member 1970-6 and president 1973-5 of the Canadian Music Council. He was also a member of the board of directors of EMC. He was the founder (1977) and general and artistic director of the Domaine Forget de Charlevoix Inc., a socio-cultural centre for the arts, in particular for music and dance. (See Summer camps and schools). Bernier received the François Samson Prize and the prize of the Fondation de l'OSQ, both in 1992, and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Quebec in 1993. In 1996, le Domaine Forget inaugurated its new 600-seat concert hall, the Salle Françoys Bernier. The University of Ottawa offers a scholarship in Bernier's name.

See also Gabrielle (his aunt), Maurice (his father), Conrad (his uncle), Pierre (his brother), and Madeleine (his sister).


Further Reading

  • Lemery, Marthe. 'Françoys Bernier: musique en tête,' Aria, vol 10, Summer 1987

    Tam, Pauline. 'Founder of music department at U of O dies of bone cancer,' Ottawa Citizen, 4 Feb 1993