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Music Archives at the National Library of Canada

MUS 279

Jacques Hétu fonds.  - 1929-1997.  - 2.30 m of textual records.  - 70 photographs.  - 46 audio tape reels.  - 67 audio cassettes.  - 7 videocassettes. 

Biographical sketch
Born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Jacques Hétu began his musical studies at the University of Ottawa which included the study of Gregorian chant with Father Jules Martel.  He continued his training at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal from 1956 to 1961 where his courses included composition and counterpoint with Clermont Pépin, harmony with Isabelle Delorme and fugue with Jean Papineau-Couture.  In the summer of 1959, he enrolled in Lukas Foss's composition course at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, Massachusetts.  Thanks to the Prix d'Europe, the Quebec Music Festivals prize and a Canada Council grant, the young artist left for Paris in 1961 to study composition with Henri Dutilleux at the École normale de musique (1961-63) and analysis with Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire de Paris (1962-63).  Those very fruitful years of learning enabled him to refine his writing techniques and produced several works including two symphonies, a Prélude for orchestra (Opus 5) and a Trio for flute, oboe and harpsichord (Opus 3, No. 2). 

In 1963, Jacques Hétu returned to Canada and embarked on his teaching career at the Université Laval (1963-77), where he taught music literature, analysis, orchestration and composition.  He began teaching at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1979 and also became the director of its music department from 1980 to 1982 and from 1986 to 1988.  In both 1972 and 1978, Hétu was also invited to teach composition courses at the Université de Montréal. 

A world-reputed artistic talent, Hétu was commissioned to compose numerous works, including Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (Institut international de musique du Canada, 1973), Les Djinns (Alliance chorale canadienne, 1975), Antinomie (National Arts Centre Corporation, 1977), Mirages (Orchestre des jeunes du Québec, 1981), Images de la révolution (Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, 1988) and the Sonate pour treize instruments (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1996).  In 1990, the composer accompanied Pinchas Zukerman and Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra on a major European tour during which they performed his Symphonie no 3 and the work Antimonie.  Following a 1994 concert featuring Le Tombeau de Nelligan, François Tousignant wrote:  "...the tones that Hétu brings out in the orchestra shimmer with a modernism that could be a lesson to many who emulate inventive sound combinations in orchestral arrangements" [translation] (Le Devoir, 29 November 1994).  An eclectic composer, Hétu rose above the divergent musical trends and brought us richly toned lyrical music. 

Scope and content
The fonds comprises records concerning Jacques Hétu's activities as a composer and educator.  In addition, the records pertaining to the musical works and the many sound recordings illustrate the interest shown in his works by both the music community and the public. 

Among othe items, the fonds contains biographical records; correspondence; contracts; musical works; course notes; exercises; certificates; examination questions; radio and conference texts; concert programmes; programme notes; analyses of works; posters; press clippings; photographs mainly of Jacques Hétu and other artists; and sound recordings primarily of Jacques Hétu's works.  

The fonds includes the following series:  MUS 279/A Studies; MUS 279/B Teaching and Administration; MUS 279/C Musical Works; MUS 279/D Files Pertaining to Musical Works; MUS 279/E Conference and Radio Texts; MUS 279/F Photographs; MUS 279/H Sound recordings; MUS 279/I Miscellaneous. 

Immediate source of acquisition:  acquired from Jacques Hétu in two accessions in 1997. 

Restrictions:  none. 

Finding aids:  Stéphane Jean.  The Jacques Hétu fonds:  Numerical List.  Ottawa:  National Library of Canada.  1999.  90 p.

Accruals:  further accessions expected. 

Proactive Disclosure