T he Living Composers Project  

Tremblay, Gilles (b. September 6, 1932, Arvida, Québec). Canadian composer of mostly orchestral, chamber and choral works that have been successfully performed across the world and that appear on numerous recordings.

Mr. Tremblay had his first private studies, principally with Jocelyne Binet, Edmond Trudel and Gabriel Cusson in the mid-1940s. From 1949-54, he studied piano at the Montréal Conservatoire with Germaine Malépart, winning a first prize for piano in 1953. During the same period, he had private composition lessons with Claude Champagne and a decisive meeting with Edgard Varèse in New York.

From 1954-61, he studied in Paris, taking the analysis course of Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, winning a first prize there in 1957. Also during this time, he studied composition and piano with Yvonne Loriod (Messiaen’s wife) and the ondes Martenot with its inventor and namesake, Maurice Martenot. In 1958, he was awarded the Première Médaille in ondes Martenot at the conservatoire and also received a license in counterpoint from the École Normale Supérieure de Musique.

During his time in Europe, encounters with other composers became frequent; he made the acquaintance of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt in the late 1950s. In 1959, he spent a period at the ORTF in Paris with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and there met Gilbert Amy, Claude Ballif, André Boucourechliev, Luc Ferrari, François-Bernard Mâche, and Iannis Xenakis. In 1960, a scholarship enabled him to take summer courses, once again in Darmstadt, with Pierre Boulez and Henri Pousseur.

Throughout the 1960s, he was, successively, a teacher, a lecturer and host of the radio show Festivals. In 1966-67, he worked on tape music for the Québec pavilion at Expo ‘67, and his work won him the Calixa-Lavallée Prix in 1967. In 1972, he won a grant from the Canada Council and was able to travel to the Far East. He has since been on the judging panel for many international competitions and his works have been performed in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, the USA, and elsewhere. He taught at the Montréal Conservatoire from 1961-98.

The ensemble 2e2m, Domaine Musical, the Evergreen Club Gamelan, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra have performed his music. The New Music Concerts Ensemble, le Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, l’Orchestre National de France, the Québec Symphony Orchestra, the SMCQ Ensemble, and the Vancouver New Music Society, among numerous others, have also played it.

Soloists who have performed his music include flautists Robert Aitken and Robert Cram, pianists Louise Bessette, Claude Helffer, Antonín Kubalek, Yvonne Loriod, and Christina Petrowska Quilico, bass-baritone Michel Ducharme, harpist Erica Goodman, percussionists Russell Hartenberger, Robert Leroux and John Wyre, and sopranos Mary Morrison, Marie-Danielle Parent and Pauline Vaillancourt.

Theodore Antoniou, Mario Bernardi, Walter Boudreau, Pierre Boulez, Ernest Bour, Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Serge Garant, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Paul Méfano, Luca Pfaff, Lawrence Smith, and Lorraine Vaillancourt, among others, have conducted his music. Also, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the French government, the National Arts Centre, New Music Concerts, Radio-France, and the Société Radio-Canada, among numerous others, have commissioned it.

His main publishers are Berandol (Toronto), Éditions Salabert (Paris), Éditions Transatlantiques, and the Canadian Music Centre.


Street address: Mr. Gilles Tremblay, 439 ouest blvd. St.-Joseph, Montréal, Québec H2V 2P7, Canada


STAGE: UN 9 (théâtre musical), mime, 2 trumpets, 2 percussion, 1987

ORCHESTRAL: Cantique de durées, 1960; Jeux de solstices, flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, orchestra, 1974; Fleuves, large orchestra, 1976; Vers le soleil, small orchestra (25 players), 1978; Katadrone: contrecri, large orchestra (63 players), 1988; Musique du feu, piano, wind orchestra (30 players), 1991; Traversée (concerto), flute, orchestra, 1996; Les pierres crieront, cello, large orchestra, 1998; En partage (concerto), viola, orchestra, 2002

CHAMBER MUSIC: Mobile, violin, piano, 1962; Champs I, piano, 2 percussion, 1965, revised 1969; Souffles: Champs II, piano, ensemble (2 flutes [both + piccolo], oboe, clarinet, French horn, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, double bass, 2 percussion), 1967; Vers: Champs III, 2 flutes (1st + piccolo), clarinet, French horn, trumpet, 3 violins, double bass, 3 percussion, 1969; …le sifflement des vents porteurs de lamour, amplified flute, amplified percussion, 4 microphones, 1971; Solstices (ou Les jours et les saisons tournent), flute, clarinet, French horn, double bass, 2 percussion, 1971; Compostelle I, clarinet, ensemble (17 players), 1978; Le signe du lion, French horn, tam-tam, 1981; Envoi (concerto), piano, ensemble (2 flutes [1st + piccolo], clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 2 violins, double bass, 3 percussion), 1982; Envol: Alléluia, flute, 1984; Triojubilus (à Raphael), flute, harp, cowbells, 1985; Cèdres en voiles (Thrène pour le Liban), cello, 1989; Aubes (ou initial), bass flute, double bass, percussion, 1990; Larbre de Borobudur, French horn, 2 harps, double bass, ondes Martenot, 2 percussion, gamelan ensemble, 1994; Quatuor à cordes, ‘Croissant’, string quartet, 2001

CHORAL: Matines pour la Vierge, mixed chorus, ensemble, 1954; Les Vêpres de la Vierge, soprano, 2 mixed choruses (44 voices), 3 flutes (all + piccolo), 2 oboes (both + English horn), 2 trumpets, trombone, double bass, positive organ, 3 percussion, 1985; Avec, wampum symphonique, soprano, bass, speaker, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1992; Lespace du coeur (Miron-Machaut), 12/24 mixed voices, percussion, 1997

VOCAL: Kékoba (text from a Latin source, arranged by the composer), soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, ondes Martenot, percussion, 1965; Oralléluiants (text from the Pentecostal Mass), amplified soprano, amplified ensemble (flute, bass clarinet, French horn, 3 double basses, 2-3 percussion, 1974; DZEI (voies de feu) (text by Heracleitus), soprano, flute, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, 1982; À quelle heure commence le temps? (text by Bernard Lévy), bass-baritone, piano, ensemble (flute [+ piccolo], oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, string quartet, double bass, 2 percussion), 2000

PIANO: Phases, 1956; Réseaux, 1958; Traçantes, auprès, au loin, 1976

ORGAN: Vers une étoile (Compostelle II), 1993

ELECTROACOUSTIC: Exercice I, tape, 1959; Exercice II, tape, 1960; Sonorisation du Pavillon du Québec, 24-track tape, 1967

MULTIMEDIA: Lappel de Kondiaronk: symphonie portuaire (environmental work), battle sirens, 2 locomotives, 2000

FILM SCORE (DIRECTOR): Dimensions soleils, tape, 1970 (Raymond Brousseau)

(Last updated on January 17, 2003)