Walter Boudreau

Walter Boudreau. Composer, saxophonist, conductor, b Montreal 15 Oct 1947. He studied piano for several years in Sorel, Que, and later saxophone with Doug Michaud in Montreal, but was initially self-taught as a composer. At 15 he became a member of a jazz band conducted by Arthur Romano.

Walter Boudreau

Walter Boudreau. Composer, saxophonist, conductor, b Montreal 15 Oct 1947. He studied piano for several years in Sorel, Que, and later saxophone with Doug Michaud in Montreal, but was initially self-taught as a composer. At 15 he became a member of a jazz band conducted by Arthur Romano. He settled in Montreal in 1966, where he directed his own jazz group. He also led various other jazz groups at the Youth Pavilion of Expo 67, where he met Raoul Duguay. With the latter, as well as with members of the Quatuor de jazz libre du Québec and other musicians, he founded Infonie in 1968, a multi-media ensemble whose repertoire was a mixture of classical, pop, contemporary and avant-garde music. The group, which numbered as many as 22 musicians, performed throughout Quebec, at the University of Toronto, and at the NAC. Boudreau appeared in the films La Nuit de la poésie (1970) and L'Infonie inachevée (1972), and published Le Manifeste de l'Infonie: le ToutArtBel (Montreal 1970), which was edited by Duguay. Selections from the latter inspired Boudreau's work Ysengouronnie.

While working with Infonie, Boudreau studied analysis 1968-70 with Bruce Mather at McGill University and analysis and composition 1969-73 with Gilles Tremblay at the CMM and with Serge Garant at the University of Montreal. From the Canada Council he received several grants which enabled him to attend summer courses given by Boulez in Cleveland in 1971 and by Kagel, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and Xenakis in Darmstadt in 1972. In 1972 Infonie became an octet, and following studies in France with Xenakis 1973-4, Boudreau transformed it into the Quatuor de saxophones de l'Infonie, which in 1982 became the Montreal Saxophone Quartet with Simon Stone (soprano), René Masino (alto), David Clark (ténor) and Boudreau (baritone). The ensemble, which presents a varied, though mainly contemporary repertoire, toured 1977-8 in the Maritimes and in 1981 in British Columbia, sponsored by the JMC (YMC) and the Festival Concert Society. It also performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Chicago (1979), and in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto, as well as on CBC radio and TV.

Boudreau participated 1973-6 in the activities of the research team Informatique-musique at the University of Montreal. After winning a first prize in the 1973 CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers (CBC radio competitions), Variations I was presented in a second version on a CBC broadcast in 1974. A final, hour-long version (called Variations) was conducted by Boudreau at an SMCQ concert in 1976. Gilles Potvin (Montreal Le Devoir, 22 Mar 1976) described it as 'a sound labyrinth populated by phantasms,' and emphasized the composer's 'inexhaustible imagination'. The majority of Boudreau's works have been commissioned, notably by the McGill Percussion Ensemble (1977), the Vancouver New Music Society (1978), the Ensemble d'ondes de Montréal (1980), the Ensemble de cuivres d'Aquitaine, France (1982), and I Musici de Montréal (1985). In 1982, the Canadian Music Council awarded him the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for his L'Odyssée du soleil. As a member of the Groupe des sisses with Michel-Georges Brégent, Michel Gonneville, Denis Gougeon, Alain Lalonde and John Rea, he participated in the composition and the creation of collective works such as La Folia (1984) and Musique des jardins sans complexe (1987). This last work was used to make the short film Fanfares (Rhombus Media 1988) which traces a portrait of these composers. His composition Golgot(h)a, to a text by Raoul Duguay was awarded the 1991 Grand Prix Paul Gilso.

As a conductor, Boudreau has appeared with, among others, the NACO, the Orchestre métropolitain, the SMCQ Ensemble and the ensemble of the Événements du neuf, and has also conducted for CBC radio recordings. He was named artistic director and conductor of the SMCQ in 1988 and was appointed to a two-year term as composer-in-residence of the TS beginning in September 1990. He is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre, which in 2009 named Boudreau as a CMC ambassador in recognition of his contribution to Canadian new music.

Selected Compositions

Pain-beurre (R. Duguay). 1969. 5 voices, piano, percussion, tape, feed-back, synthesizer. Ms

Ubiquital I. 1971. Instr ensemble. Ms. 2-Kot'ai KOT-501-502 (see Discography)

Ubiquital II and III. 1972. Instr ensemble. Ms

Ysengouronnie (R. Duguay). 1971. Spkr, instr ensemble, tape. Ms

Variations. 1973 (rev 1974, 1975). Instr ensemble. Ms

Variations II 'Dans les champs il y a des bibittes' (Boudreau). 1974 (rev 1983). Sop, instr ensemble. Ms

Coffre I (J. Leclerc). 1975. Sop, 4 winds (4 saxophone), percussion. Ms. II 'Le Cercle gnostique II' (Boudreau). 1975. 12 voices, ondes M, 3 percussion, string quintet, instr ensemble. Ms. III 'Le Cercle gnostique I' (R. Duguay). 1977. Sop, fl, guitar. Ms

Morceaux. 1976. Str quintet. Ms

Les Sept jours. 1977. 8 percussion. Québec-Musique 1981. RCI 478 (Béluse)

L'Odyssée du soleil 'Le Cercle gnostique III'. 1978. 8 brass. Ms. RCI 526 (see Discography)

Amon-Râ 'Le Cercle gnostique V'.1979.. 5 ondes M. Ms

Incantations I 'Le Cercle gnostique IV'. 1979. saxophone quartet. Ms

Demain les étoiles 'Le Cercle gnostique VI'. 1980. 12 saxophone. Ms

Contact-itinéraires 'Le Cercle gnostique VII'. 1981. wind quintet. Ms

La Toc 'Le Cercle gnostique VIIa'. 1981. 12 percussion. Ms

Carrousel-constellations 'Le Cercle gnostique VIII'. 1982. Fl, violoncello, 2 piano, percussion. Ms

Cocktail Music 'Musiques entre 5 et 7'. 1983 (rev 1988). Alto saxophone, percussion. Ms

Voyage au centre du soleil 'Le Cercle gnostique IX'. 1983. 8 brass, percussion. Ms

Incantations III 'Le Cercle gnostique IXa'. 1984 (rev 1985). 10 woodwind. Ms. RCI 625 (see Discography)

Incantations IV 'Le Cercle gnostique IXb'. 1984. Cl, violoncello, piano. Ms

Lente ré concentrée ré à la Boudrini 'La Folia'. 1984. Bagpipes, 2 woodwind, 2 brass, 2 percussion, 3 strings. Ms

Les Planètes 'Le Cercle gnostique IXa'. 1984. Pf. Ms

Chaleurs, ballet. 1985. Saxophone quartet, tape. Ms

Incantations V 'Le Cercle gnostique IXc'. 1985. Fl, clarinet, piano, violin, viola, violoncello. Ms

Incantations Va 'Le Cercle gnostique IXt'. 1986. 7 violin, 2 viola, 2 violoncello, double-bass. Ms

Hommage à sainte Cécile. 1986. Ms

Berliner Momente. 1988. Orch. Ms. CBC SMCD-5106 (O métropolitain, Boudreau conductor)

Versus. 1988. 4 woodwind, 4 brass, piano, 3 percussion. Ms

Wallongement. 1988. 4 woodwind, 3 brass, 2 synthesizer. Ms

Also several film scores, including La Chambre blanche (1970), Les Maudits sauvages (1970), L'Infonie inachevée (1972), Une nuit en Amérique (1973), Réjeanne Padovani (1973) and Ultimatum (1974)


Walter Boudreau, 'Ma vision du toutartbel (l'infonie),' Musiques du Kébèk, ed Raoul Duguay (Montreal 1971)


Jazz Walter Boudreau + 3 = 4. Boudreau soprano and alto saxophone, Leduc piano, Valois double-bass, Provençal percussion. 1968. Phonodisc PHS-5007

With L'infonie

L'Infonie. 1969. Boudreau, Bach (arr Boudreau), Jobin et al. Poly 542-507

Mantra. Riley (arr Boudreau). 1970. Poly 2424-018

L'Infonie vol. 333. Boudreau, Bach, Guillaume de Machaut et al. 1972. 2-Kot'ai KOT-501-502

With the Montreal Saxophone Quartet

Alain Thibault E.L.V.I.S. (1990). Empreintes digitales IMED-9003 (CD).

Vivier, Pousseur et al. 1984. SNE 515

As Conductor

Boudreau Incantations III. Instr ensemble. 1985. RCI 625

- L'Odyssée du soleil. Ens de cuivres Ville-Marie. 1979. RCI 526

See also R. Duguay, and Discographies of Orchestre métropolitain and SMCQ

Further Reading

  • 'Saviez-vous que nous avons aussi des compositeurs de musique "sérieuse"?,' Perspectives, vol 17, 21 Aug 1976

    Gingras, Claude. 'Un orchestra populaire du Québec,' Montreal La Presse, 23 Dec 1978

    Robert, Véronique. 'Walter Boudreau - un anarchiste orthodoxe,' MSc, 329, Jan-Feb 1983

    PRO Canada Ltd. 'Walter Boudreau,' pamphlet, 1984

    Kaptainis, Arthur. 'Boudreau making his mark on new music,' Montreal Gazette, 16 Aug 1986

    Robert, Véronique. 'Walter Music,' L'Actualité, Sep 1986

    Everett-Green, Robert. 'Will composer's utopian agenda play?' Toronto Globe and Mail, 15 Sep 1990

    'Infonie,' EMC 1981

    Gilmore, John. Who's Who of Jazz in Montreal: Ragtime to 1970 (Montreal: Véhicule Press 1989)