Jacques Hétu

Hétu's compositional output comprises over 50 works in diverse forms, making him one of the most frequently performed composers worldwide. Though not revolutionary, his musical idiom combines modality and dissonance with expressiveness and forcefulness.

Hétu, Jacques

Jacques Hétu, composer, teacher (b at Trois-Rivières, Qué 8 Aug 1938, d at St-Hippolyte, Qué 9 Feb 2010). After studying at the University of Ottawa, he attended the CONSERVATOIRE DE MUSIQUE DU QUÉBEC in Montréal 1956-61. He also studied in the US with Lukas Foss in 1959, in Paris with Henri Dutilleux 1961-63 and Olivier Messiaen 1962-63. Returning from Europe in 1963, he taught at Laval University, at the Université de Montréal and, beginning in 1979, at the Université de Québec in Montréal, where he was director of the music department 1980-82 and 1986-88.

Hétu's compositional output comprises over 50 works in diverse forms, making him one of the most frequently performed composers worldwide. Though not revolutionary, his musical idiom combines modality and dissonance with expressiveness and forcefulness. His early compositions are especially rich in percussive rhythms and harmonic tension, in the manner of Bartók, Hindemith and others.

His Sonata for 2 pianos was premiered at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York in 1963, and his Variations for piano have been recorded by several artists, including Glenn GOULD. In 1990 his work Images de la Révolution was performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, while Antinomie and Symphony No. 3 appeared on the program of the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE Orchestra's European tour. He completed his first opera, Le Prix (libretto by Yves Beauchemin), in 1992. Another important work, Le Tombeau de Nelligan, was given its world premiere in Paris in 1993. Since 1967 Hétu composed only commissioned pieces, notably for the CBC, the ORCHESTRE SYMPHONIQUE DE QUÉBEC, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Canadian Music Competition. Hétu was elected a Member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1989.