Victor Brault

(Robert) Victor Brault. Baritone, choir conductor, teacher, b Ste-Martine, near Montreal, 1899, d Montreal 1963. The brother of Cédia Brault, he studied piano in Montreal with Alexis Contant and voice and theory 1919-24 in Paris with A. Landély Hettich and André Gédalge respectively.

Brault, Victor

(Robert) Victor Brault. Baritone, choir conductor, teacher, b Ste-Martine, near Montreal, 1899, d Montreal 1963. The brother of Cédia Brault, he studied piano in Montreal with Alexis Contant and voice and theory 1919-24 in Paris with A. Landély Hettich and André Gédalge respectively. He also studied voice with the tenor Edmond Clément and appeared in concerts with him. In Paris he was deputy soloist at the Madeleine Church, sang the role of Peter in Beethoven's Christ at the Mount of Olives with the Association des concerts spirituels de la Sorbonne, and was a soloist in the Concerts Touche. In recitals 1922-3 at Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel he sang works of Honegger, Roussel, and Tansman with the composers at the piano. Fauré was his accompanist in L'Horizon chimérique and he premiered Un Peu d'ombre by Rodolphe Mathieu at Salle Gaveau in 1922. Brault made his London debut at Wigmore Hall in 1923 in a recital of French songs, and sang Ravel's Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé at Queen's Hall shortly afterwards under the composer's direction. Ernest Newman wrote of him: 'One would not have missed the beautiful diction for words, and one does not often hear such thorough understanding of poet and composer' (The Times, 19 Oct 1923). Brault later repeated the work in Brussels and at the Holland Festival, again conducted by the composer.

Back in North America Brault performed in New York, Boston, and Montreal. He participated in the benefit concert for Emma Albani at the St-Denis Theatre in 1925, then opened studios in Montreal and Boston. He also taught at the Conservatoire national of Montreal, at McGill University and at the Trafalgar Institute. With his sister he took part in the CPR Festival in Quebec City in 1928. With Wilfrid Pelletier and Edward Johnson, he founded in 1931 the Canadian Opera Company of Montreal of which he was managing director. The Company presented Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at Loew's Theatre on 7 May with Metropolitan Opera stars (Queena Mario, Johnson, Léon Rothier) and Canadians Lionel Daunais, Albert Viau and others. Due to the Depression, the company ceased its activities and the projected production of Samson et Dalila was not given. A benefit concert featuring the celebrated bass Alexander Kipnis made possible the concert performance of four works with piano accompaniment, namely The Marriage of Figaro and Gluck's Orpheus and Euridice (1933), Honegger's Le Roi David and Debussy's Le Martyre de saint Sébastien (1934); Victor Brault conducted these presentations which featured all-Canadian casts. He also conducted the performances of Roméo et Juliette and Carmen at the Chalet du Mont Royal during the summer of 1939. He was active as a conductor of choirs on CBC radio, and founded the vocal ensemble La Cantoria. Brault was commentator and artistic director of the series of radio broadcasts 'Le Chant du monde' presented 1944-5 on CBC as part of Radio-Collège. Brault made harmonizations of Canadian folksongs and composed some works under the pseudonym of Laurent Winter. Among his pupils were Marcelle Gagné, Gérard Gélinas, Claude Létourneau, and Albert Viau. Andrée Desautels is his niece.