Jean Deslauriers

Jean Deslauriers. Conductor, violinist, composer, b Montreal 24 Jun 1909, d St-Jérôme, Que, 30 May 1978. Jean Deslauriers studied violin 1918-23 with Émile Taranto and Camille Couture, harmony and solfège with R.-O.

Deslauriers, Jean

Jean Deslauriers. Conductor, violinist, composer, b Montreal 24 Jun 1909, d St-Jérôme, Que, 30 May 1978. Jean Deslauriers studied violin 1918-23 with Émile Taranto and Camille Couture, harmony and solfège with R.-O. Pelletier, counterpoint and instrumentation with Auguste Descarries, and orchestration with Claude Champagne. A child prodigy, Deslauriers toured Canada and New England 1924-9 with the singers Paul Dufault and Joseph Saucier and was later violinist and conductor aboard cruise ships. Deslauriers was a member of the Concerts symphoniques de Montréal orchestra 1935-45 and began his career as a conductor of radio orchestras in 1936, working principally for the CBC. He conducted for several important radio series: the popular "Serenade for Strings" 1937-57, which won the 1946 LaFlèche Trophy and became a TV program in 1955; "Radio-Concerts canadiens"; "Théâtre lyrique Molson"; "Concerts d'opéras"; and the TV series "L'Heure du concert," "Sérénade," and "Concerts populaires." He was the conductor in 1954 for a TV production of The Barber of Seville, one of the first televised opera productions at CBC. He conducted numerous other operas for CBC radio or TV, including Messager's Monsieur Beaucaire (1954), Roméo et Juliette (1971) and Madama Butterfly (1977).

In Quebec City, as music director 1967-70 of the Théâtre lyrique du Québec, Deslauriers conducted Mignon and Les Pêcheurs de perles among others. He was the assistant conductor 1972-5 of the Opéra du Québec and conducted Samson et Dalila (1971), La Fille du régiment (1972), Manon (1973), and Madama Butterfly (1974). He also appeared as guest conductor with the Canadian Opera Company (La Bohème 1972) and the Edmonton Opera Association (Faust 1973). In 1976 he presented extracts of Alexis Contant'sCaïn at the CBC's Grands Concerts series at the Salle Claude-Champagne. He was guest conductor on numerous occasions of concerts by the symphony orchestras and CBC radio orchestras in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. He conducted the premiere of Robert Turner'sThree Episodes for Orchestra with the Toronto Symphony in 1966 and François Morel'sPrismes-Anamorphoses with a Toronto CBC orchestra in 1968.

Deslauriers arranged and conducted the scores for many films immediately following World War II. Among his compositions are a Prélude for strings and a song, "La Musique des yeux." He was a member of the Rioux commission and contributed to the Rapport de la Commission royale d'enquête sur l'enseignement des arts dans la province de Québec.

A conductor with a sober but efficient technique, Deslauriers was always faithful to the written score. He was equally at ease conducting concerts, opera, and lighter repertoire. His personal papers have been deposited at the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec in Montreal, whereas his collection of about 400 scores is held at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal. In 1975, the Plateau Auditorium was named Salle Jean-Deslauriers.

His daughter is the soprano Yolande Deslauriers-Husaruk.


Further Reading

  • Husaruk, Yolande. 'Jean Deslauriers,' Le Bulletin, vol 1, no. 4, 1978

    Deslauriers, Nicole. Si mon père m'était conté... (Montreal 1983)