Françoys Bernier

Last updated

Françoys Joseph Arthur Maurice Bernier (12 July 1927 3 February 1993) was a Canadian pianist, conductor, radio producer, arts administrator, and music educator. He served as the music director of the Montreal Festivals from 1956 to 1960 and was an active conductor and a producer for CBC Radio during the 1950s and early 1960s. He was the General Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec from 1960 to 1966 and then the orchestra's Music Director from 1966 to 1968. He was also active as a teacher of conducting at a number of universities, notably serving as the first director of the Music Department at the University of Ottawa. [1]

Piano musical instrument

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Radio producer person who supervises the production of a radio show

A radio producer oversees the making of a radio show. The job title covers several different job descriptions:


Family background and education

Bernier was born into a prominent family of musicians in Quebec City. He was the son of cellist and music critic Maurice Bernier, the brother of cellist Pierre Bernier and pianist Gabrielle Bernier, and the nephew of pianist Gabrielle Bernier and of keyboardist and composer Conrad Bernier. His earliest musical education was with his grandfather, keyboardist and composer Joseph-Arthur Bernier.

Quebec City Provincial capital city in Quebec, Canada

Quebec City, officially Québec, is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec. The city had a population estimate of 531,902 in July 2016, and the metropolitan area had a population of 800,296 in July 2016, making it the second largest city in Quebec after Montreal, and the seventh largest metropolitan area and eleventh largest city in the country.

Cello musical instrument

The cello ( CHEL-oh; plural celli or cellos) or violoncello ( VY-ə-lən-CHEL-oh; Italian pronunciation: [vjolonˈtʃɛllo]) is a bowed (and occasionally plucked) string instrument of the violin family. Its four strings are usually tuned in perfect fifths: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3, an octave lower than the viola. Music for the cello is generally written in the bass clef, with tenor clef and treble clef used for higher-range passages.

Maurice Bernier was a Canadian journalist, cellist, and music critic. He wrote music criticism for the Quebec City newspaper L'Événement from 1922-1932. He then worked as a reporter stationed at the National Assembly of Quebec for the next four decades.

Bernier received his general education from the Séminaire de Québec, where he also studied music from 1939 to 1947. From 1945 to 1950 he attended courses at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Québec, where he was a pupil of Françoise Aubut, Henri Gagnon, Hélène Landry, Ria Lenssens, and Father Alphonse Tardif. In 1949–1950 he pursued further studies at the Université Laval with Lucien Brochu and Marius Cayouette. He later studied music analysis and conducting with Sergiu Celibidache in Siena and Hermann Scherchen in Salzburg in 1962–1963 through grants awarded to him by the Canada Council.

Séminaire de Québec building in Quebec, Canada

The Seminary of Quebec is a Roman Catholic community of priests in Quebec City founded by Bishop François de Laval, the first bishop of New France in 1663.

The Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Québec (CMQQ) is a music conservatory located in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Founded by the Quebec government in 1944, it became the second North American music institution of higher learning to be entirely state-subsidized. The conservatoire is part of a network of 7 conservatories in Quebec, the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec (CMADQ), and was the second school in the CMADQ network to be established. Orchestra conductor Wilfrid Pelletier served as the school's first director from 1944 through 1946. The current director is Louis Dallaire.

Françoise Aubut Canadian organist

Françoise Aubut (Aubut-Pratte) was a Canadian organist, concertist, and music teacher.


In 1950 Bernier joined the teaching staff of College Mathieu in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, where he remained for over two years. During that time he also worked as the first program director of the local radio station CFRG when it opened in June 1952. He left Gravelbourg in 1953 to become a producer of music programs for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal.

CFRG was a Canadian radio station, which broadcast in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan from 1952 to 1973. A private affiliate of Radio-Canada, the station was owned by Radio-Gravelbourg Ltée.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that serves as the national public broadcaster for both radio and television. The English- and French-language service units of the corporation are commonly known as CBC and Radio-Canada.

Working for the French-language side of the CBC, Bernier was particularly active with the CBC Radio program Premières during his first year with the organization. In 1954 he worked as a producer for the CBC Television programs Concerts pour la jeunesse and L'Heure du concert. He also produced several live programs of classical music, including performances of Igor Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat (1955), Maurice Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges (1956, 1957), Charles Gounod's Faust (1957), Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly (1958), and Jules Massenet's Manon (1960), among others.

CBC Radio is the English-language radio operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC operates a number of radio networks serving different audiences and programming niches, all of which are outlined below.

CBC Television Canadian television network

CBC Television is a Canadian English-language broadcast television network that is owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the national public broadcaster. The network began operations on September 6, 1952. Its French-language counterpart is Ici Radio-Canada Télé.

Igor Stravinsky Russian-born composer

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

In 1956 Bernier was appointed music director of the Montreal Festivals, a post he remained in until 1960 when he became general director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec. In 1960 he conducted the orchestra in the world premiere of Roger Matton's Mouvement symphonique no. 1 (1960), and in 1963 he conducted them in the premiere of Serge Garant's Ouranos. After six years as general director, he succeeded Wilfrid Pelletier as the orchestra's principal conductor in 1966. He held that post for two years, during which time he championed contemporary works by Canadian and French composers, in particular those by Olivier Messiaen. He conducted the world premiere of Matton's Te Deum with the OSQ in 1967 and again for its European premiere in 1969 with the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française. He also was a guest conductor with a number of French orchestras, including the Orchestre des Concerts Colonne and the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine.

The Montreal Festivals was an arts festival held annually in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from 1936-1965. The festival was originally dedicated to the performance of classical music, presenting concerts of symphonic works, operas, oratorios, chamber music, and recitals. It was initially operated by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO), but became its own independent institution with its own orchestra in 1939. In 1952 the festival began expanding its offerings, and by 1965 the festival encompassed presentations of popular music, jazz, folk music, dance, arts and craft exhibitions, and a film festival. Notable artists who performed at the festival included conductors Emil Cooper, Laszlo Halasz, Erich Leinsdorf, Charles Munch, Charles O'Connell, and Eugene Ormandy; pianists Gyorgy Cziffra, José Iturbi, and Wilhelm Kempff; and singers Rose Bampton, Marjorie Lawrence, Grace Moore, Martial Singher, and Eleanor Steber.

Orchestre Symphonique de Québec

The Orchestre symphonique de Québec is a Canadian symphony orchestra based in Quebec City. Founded in 1902 as the Société symphonique de Québec, the OSQ is the oldest active Canadian orchestra. Joseph Vézina was the OSQ's first music director, from 1902 to 1924. In 1942 the orchestra merged with rival orchestra Cercle philharmonique de Québec, at which time it changed its name to the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec.

Roger Matton OC was a Canadian composer, ethnomusicologist, and music educator. As a composer his works are characterized by their association with folklore and folk music.

From 1959 to 1964 Bernier worked on the faculty of the Université Laval where he taught conducting and directed the university choir. He concurrently worked as the assistant director of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Québec from 1960 to 1968. From 1973 to 1975 he was President of the Canadian Music Council. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada . He was appointed the first director of the Music Department at the University of Ottawa in 1969, a post he held through 1976. He remained on the UO's faculty until 1992. In 1977 he founded le Domaine Forget, a summer arts festival and school for music, dance, and theatre. He served as the general and artistic director of the school up until his death in Quebec City in 1993 at the age of 65.

Awards and honours

In 1992 Bernier was awarded the François Samson Prize and was honoured with an award from the Orchestre symphonique de Québec. In 1993 he was posthumously named a Chevalier of the National Order of Quebec and the University of Ottawa established a scholarship in his name. In 1996 Le Domaine Forget built a new concert hall which they named in his honour.

Related Research Articles

Montreal Symphony Orchestra symphonic orchestra

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian symphony orchestra based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The orchestra’s home is the Montreal Symphony House at Place des Arts.

In Canada, classical music includes a range of musical styles rooted in the traditions of Western or European classical music that European settlers brought to the country from the 17th century and onwards. As well, it includes musical styles brought by other ethnic communities from the 19th century and onwards, such as Indian classical music and Chinese classical music. Since Canada's emergence as a nation in 1867, the country has produced its own composers, musicians and ensembles. As well, it has developed a music infrastructure that includes training institutions, conservatories, performance halls, and a public radio broadcaster, CBC, which programs a moderate amount of Classical music. There is a high level of public interest in classical music and education.

Wilfrid Pelletier Canadian musician

Joseph Louis Wilfrid Pelletier, was a Canadian conductor, pianist, composer, and arts administrator. He was instrumental in establishing the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, serving as the orchestra's first artistic director and conductor from 1935–1941. He had a long and fruitful partnership with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City that began with his appointment as a rehearsal accompanist in 1917; ultimately working there as one of the company's conductors in mainly the French opera repertoire from 1929-1950. From 1951–1966 he was the principal conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec. He was also a featured conductor for a number of RCA Victor recordings, including an acclaimed reading of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem featuring baritone Mack Harrell and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and chorus.

Raffi Armenian, is an Armenian-Canadian conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher. He directed the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony orchestra for many years. Since 1999 he has been the director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Toronto. From 2008 to 2013 he was the director of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal.

Alain Trudel is a Canadian conductor, trombonist and composer.

Domaine Forget

Le Domaine Forget de Charlevoix is an international Music Festival as well as a music and dance Academy located in Saint-Irénée, Charlevoix in Quebec. Concerts take place in the Concert Hall.

Pierre Hétu Canadian politician

Pierre Hétu was a conductor and pianist. He studied music from 1955–57 at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal with Germaine Malépart (piano) and at the University of Montreal with Jean Papineau-Couture (acoustics), Gabriel Cusson and Conrad Letendre and Jean Vallerand.

Victor Bouchard OC CQ was a Canadian pianist and composer.

Jacques Lacombe, is a Canadian conductor.

Antoine Marguier is a French orchestra conductor.

Neil Chotem was a Canadian composer, arranger, conductor, pianist, and music educator.

Charles Houdret was a Canadian conductor, cellist, radio producer, and composer. He began his career in Belgium and was highly active as a conductor throughout Europe during the 1940s. In 1952 he immigrated to Canada where he ultimately became a naturalized citizen. He was active as a radio producer, cellist, and conductor in Canada up through 1964, after which nothing is known about his whereabouts or activities.

Jean Deslauriers Violinist, conductor and composer

Jean Deslauriers was a Canadian conductor, violinist, and composer. As a conductor he had a long and fruitful partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; conducting orchestras for feature films and television and radio programs for more than 40 years. He also worked as a guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies throughout Canada and served on the conducting staff of the Opéra du Québec. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes him as "a conductor with a sober but efficient technique, who was always faithful to the written score [and] equally at ease conducting concerts, opera, and lighter repertoire." His best-known compositions are his Prélude for strings and the song, La Musique des yeux. He is the father of soprano Yolande Deslauriers-Husaruk.

François Morel was a Canadian composer, pianist, conductor, and music educator. An associate of the Canadian Music Centre, he was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1994 and was awarded the Prix Denise-Pelletier in 1996. He has had his works premiered by the CBC Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Jean-Marie Beaudet was a Canadian conductor, organist, pianist, radio producer, and music educator. He had a long career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, serving variously as a music producer, programing director, conductor, and administrator. With the CBC Symphony Orchestra he conducted the premiere recordings of works by many Canadian composers, including pieces by Maurice Blackburn, Claude Champagne, J.-J. Gagnier, Clermont Pépin, and Healey Willan.

Edwin Bélanger was a Canadian conductor, violinist, violist, arranger, and music educator. He had an association with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec for more than 50 years, including serving as the orchestra's principal conductor from 1942 to 1951.

Joseph Jacques Albert Grenier is a Canadian pianist, academic, and university administrator. From 1979-1998 he was director of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal (CMM).

Léon Bernier was a Canadian composer, conductor, pianist, arranger, accompanist, and music pedagogue. He composed and arranged music for numerous programs on Canadian radio and television, and also wrote music for a number of theatrical productions in Canada. For CBC Television he served as music director of the programs Les Coqueluches, Allo Boubou, Zoum, and Les Démons du midi, and composed music for the television dramas Edna, Le Vélo devant la porte, Pâques, Le Misanthrope, and Coup de sang among others.

Yvonne Gouverné, née Yvonne Marcelle Gouverné, was a 20th-century French pianist by training, who went on to become an accompanist and choir conductor.


  1. "Françoys Bernier". The Canadian Encyclopedia .