Philippe Bruneau

Philippe (Georges) Bruneau. Accordionist, composer, b Montreal 22 Sep 1934, d Forcalquier, France 7 Aug 2011. Bruneau's father was an amateur accordionist. Bruneau took up the instrument at 15 and joined a folk music ensemble at the Trinidad Ballroom in Montreal at 19.

Philippe Bruneau

Philippe (Georges) Bruneau. Accordionist, composer, b Montreal 22 Sep 1934, d Forcalquier, France 7 Aug 2011. Bruneau's father was an amateur accordionist. Bruneau took up the instrument at 15 and joined a folk music ensemble at the Trinidad Ballroom in Montreal at 19. Playing a three-row button accordion, he worked with the group for six years and with the help of one of its violoneux, Lionel Simard of La Malbaie, Que, developed his fluency and technique. In 1960, at the violoneux Jean Carignan's suggestion, he turned to the single-row button accordion, and began performing as a soloist, and with Carignan and others, in concerts and festivals and on radio and TV. It was not until 1969, however, that he played music full-time.

As music director 1968-75 of the Danseurs du St-Laurent, he appeared throughout Quebec and performed in Toronto at the Mariposa Folk Festival and in the US at the National and Fox Hollow folk festivals. The dancers were seen regularly in 1975 on CTV's 'John Allan Cameron Show'. Bruneau also appeared at Mariposa as a soloist in 1975 and 1978. A virtuoso devoted to the perpetuation of the instrumental tradition of Quebec folk music, and also of the music of the US accordionist John Kimmel, Bruneau made the LPs Philippe Bruneau (1973, Philo FI2003) and Danses pour veillées canadiennes (1974, Philo FI-2006), which include arrangements of dance music from the repertoires of Kimmel, the fiddlers Joseph Allard, Joe Bouchard, Carignan, Simard, and Isidore Soucy, and the older accordionist Alfred Montmarquette. Bruneau plays single- and three-row accordions on each LP. He also recorded as an accompanist to Carignan and plays accordion on Le Fleuve Saint-Laurent (2-RCI F-767). His composition Hommage aux musiciens traditionnels is well-known amongst traditional players.

In 1980 he began to play with the pianist Dorothy Hogan (b Dorothy Swearengen, Dayton, Ohio 2 July 1929, d Montreal 26 Sept 2004), with whom he made some 50 arrangement of his own compositions or of traditional Quebec melodies. Hogan transcribed numerous melodies that Bruneau played by ear. He performed in Vancouver, and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1980, and recorded four works at the Ris-Orangis Festival, France, released on Ris-Orangis, festival folk (2-Dhama Productions 80101-80102). In 1982 and 1983 he made three tours in France, playing in Paris, Lyon, Brittany, and Alsace, among other places. In 1984 he recorded in France Philippe Bruneau, accordéons diatoniques, musique québécoise (Anche Libre MR-4007). He played on several occasions at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (the sessions were recorded on videotape) and in 1989 brought together some 30 accordionists for a whole day at the Collège de Lévis, before undertaking another French tour, in 1990, with the pianist Myriam Gagner. He made a videotape in 1991 with the jig dancer Pierre Chartrand for the Association Québécoise des loisirs folkloriques. In 1991 Bruneau immigrated to France in an act of political protest against the Quebec government, which he said did nothing to promote or recognize traditional music. The Quebec government awarded him its Prix Gérard-Morisette in 2000; Bruneau refused to accept the prize.