Houdy, Pierick

Houdy, Pierick. Composer, organist, pianist, choirmaster, teacher, b Rennes, France, 18 Jan 1929, naturalized Canadian 1976; premier prix composition (Paris Cons) 1954. He began his musical education at seven at the Rennes Cons. In 1939 he was admitted to the Paris Cons, where he studied with Marguerite Long, Lazare Lévy, Noël Gallon, Maurice Duruflé, Messiaen, Milhaud, and Nadia Boulanger. He won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1953 and the Grand Prix de la ville de Paris in 1954. He was director 1955-60 of the Tours Cons, teacher 1963-4 at the Schola cantorum, choirmaster 1965-9 of St-Séverin Church in Paris, and choir conductor 1966-9 of the Maîtrise d'enfants of the ORTF. He then led a highly diversified career, divided between concert tours in Europe and composition. Invited to Quebec City in 1970 by Laval University, he was appointed teacher of composition and theory in 1971 at the CMQ. His pupils in Quebec have included Denis Bédard, Daniel Bolduc, Richard Gagné, Guy Gingras, and Alain Leblond.

Of Houdy's more than 150 scores, the first, À mes petits amis, a set of piano pieces, was published by Lemoine in Paris in 1938. He also wrote about 100 short choral pieces 1949-82 a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment, 5 masses including the Messe bretonne (1981), 6 cantatas and oratorios including the Cantate à saint Michel (1966), some stage and film music including Bach et Bottine (1986), about 40 chamber works 1936-90 and 8 orchestral works, notably Les Aveugles de Breughel (1967), and 4 electroacoustic works. Most of his compositions, including the Sonate for harp (1954), which appears at most international competitions, were published by Leduc. In those works inspired by the Quebec environment he has paid homage to the violoneux with his Messe québécoise (1973) for mixed voices, violin, double-bass, and spoons (Éditions Pierick Houdy 1976, London LOS-26604, Canadian Music Council award for best Canadian choral recording in 1979); to Amerindians on reserves with Kastchentamoun (1974) for saxophone, piano, and tape; and to the pioneers of New France in his Témoignage de Marie de l'Incarnation (1984), commissioned by the Concerts Couperin, and his Messe de Jacques Cartier (1984), commissioned by the CBC. He also wrote a work for choir and orchestra (1975-6) about St Jean-Baptiste, a hymn to Teilhard de Chardin for speaker and orchestra (1982, recorded on RCI 549 by a CBC ensemble in Quebec under the composer's direction), a saxophone quartet Chemins (Billaudot 1977) and Cinq caractères en forme d'études for two saxophones (Doberman-Yppan 1988, recorded on Cibé 700115). Houdy remains faithful to traditional musical language and his constant concern with communicating a human view of perceived reality has been brought to bear on a wide range of assignments. He is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.

Houdy's wife, (Marie Geneviève) Ghislaine de Winter - harpist, teacher, b Paris 9 May 1934, naturalized Canadian 1976; premier prix harp (Paris Cons) 1955 - studied in 1950 with Pierre Jamet at the Paris Cons and for several years was a member of Marie-Claire Jamet's French quartet. Settling in Quebec City in 1970, she established the harp class at Laval University. She also introduced the Celtic harp to Quebec.


'La musique et la mer,' Sonances, vol 3, Jul 1984

'La querelle est morte, vivent les bouffons!' ibid, vol 8, Summer 1989