Henri Brassard

Henri Brassard. Pianist, teacher, b St-Siméon, near Quebec City, 16 Jan 1950. He began his piano studies at the École Vincent-d'Indy with Lucille Brassard and continued 1960-8 with Yvonne Hubert.

Brassard, Henri

Henri Brassard. Pianist, teacher, b St-Siméon, near Quebec City, 16 Jan 1950. He began his piano studies at the École Vincent-d'Indy with Lucille Brassard and continued 1960-8 with Yvonne Hubert. At 12 he won his first honours in competition - at the Quebec Kiwanis Festival and the Quebec Music Festivals.(Canadian Music Competitions). He won first prize in the MSO Concours in 1965 and second prize in the CBC Talent Festival in 1966. In 1967 Brassard appeared as a soloist with the MSO, the TS, and the Erie Philharmonic.

On his graduation from the École Vincent-d'Indy, Brassard studied for some time in New York with Nadia Reisenberg, but it was in Vienna, 1972-5 with Dieter Weber, that he completed his education. Although he gave about 30 recitals 1974-5 for the JMC, he began his real career on his permanent return to Canada in 1975. That same year his recital at Toronto's St Lawrence Centre won him an enthusiastic press and the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation Award. Brassard's engagements subsequently multiplied: MSO (1977,19780, Quebec Symphony Orchestra (1977), CBC Chamber Orchestra in Quebec City (1977, 1979), NACO (1979), CBC Sinfonietta (1986), Ensemble orchestral de Haute-Normandie (Rouen, 1986), Orchestre métropolitain (1989); not to mention many recitals - Salmon Arm, BC (1978), St. Lawrence Centre and the Festival International de Lanaudière, near Joliette, Que (1979), Le Clavier d'autrefois, Montreal (1988). In December 1978 he began a European tour which included six appearances in the USSR and recitals at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris and at Canada House in London; his program included Harry Somers'Three Sonnets.

After his performance of the Beethoven Fantasia, Opus 80 with the MSO, Claude Gingras wrote:'The technique is irreproachable, the sound is exceptionally powerful... There also is a lovely musicality and an interesting texture, indicating that Brassard had given his interpretation careful and lengthy consideration' (Montreal La Presse, 18 May 1977).

In the 1980s Brassard especially devoted himself to chamber music, associating himself with such groups as the Prague Quartet, the Orford String Quartet and I Musici de Montréal, as well as with soloists of international renown, notably at the Ladies' Morning Musical Club with Paul Tortelier (1986) and Augustin Dumay (1988). In 1979-80 he founded the Haydn Trio of Montreal with the violinist Martin Foster and the cellist Marcel Saint-Cyr (replaced by Richard Naill in 19856). The ensemble performed all over Canada before it dissolved in 1986. In addition to his activities as broadcaster on radio and TV, as artistic director of several organizations, and as conductor, Brassard began teaching at UQAM in 1980. In 1970 he recorded an LP of works by Mozart and Schubert (RCI 410).

Writings

Henri Brassard, 'Libres propos d'un pianiste,' Bulletin des JMC, Jan 1975

'Piano performance,' Careers in Music: A Guide for Canadian Students, ed Thomas Green et al (Oakville, Ont 1986)


Further Reading

  • Harvey, Jacques. 'Les 10 prochaines années sont importantes pour le pianiste Henri Brassard,' Musique périodique, vol 1, Mar 1977

    Ward, John. 'Pianist not the best-known, but he's among the busiest,' Calgary Herald, 10 Feb 1979