Maryvonne Kendergi

Maryvonne Kendergi. Teacher, writer on music, pianist, commentator, b Aintab, Cilicie (now Gaziantep), Turkey, 15 Aug 1915, naturalized Canadian 1960, d Montreal, 27 Sep 2011; teaching diploma (École normale, Paris) 1940, performance diploma piano (École normale, Paris) 1941, L LITT (Sorbonne) 1942, diplôme supérieur history of art (Institut d'art et d'archéologie, Paris) 1944. Her family, of Armenian descent, was forced to leave Turkey during World War I and sought refuge first in Syria, then in France. At the École normale de musique in Paris, Kendergi worked with Alfred Cortot and Nadia Boulanger. She gave several concerts and gained a reputation as a promoter of French music in school and university circles. In 1945 she became co-ordinator of cultural and musical activities for the Cité universitaire of Paris. She held this position until 1952, the year she arrived in Canada.

Kendergi's first position in Canada was producer at radio station CFRG and college professor in Gravelbourg, Sask. In 1956 she moved to Montreal and became a CBC commentator specializing in musical and cultural programs. The most noteworthy of these productions were 'Présences' (1968), a series of 13 interviews with such artists as Ernest Ansermet, Jane Bathori, Jean Lurçat, and Boris de Schloezer, and 'Carnet arts et lettres' (1968-77). She travelled 1957-63 to most of the European festivals and brought back more than 200 interviews with prominent figures in contemporary music. These were heard on CBC's 'Festivals européens'. She was a founding member and organizer of SMCQ in 1966 and its president 1973-82, president of the Canadian Music Council 1977-80, vice-president of the CCA 1977-80, president of ARMuQ 1980-3 and a member beginning in 1985 of the Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal, to name just a few of her numerous positions and functions. She began teaching at the University of Montreal in 1966 and was named professor emeritus when she retired in 1981. She established Canadian music as an academic subject there. In 1969 she created the 'Musialogues' to give exposure to Canadian musicians and artists from abroad touring in Quebec. These live encounters featured such guests as Garant, Menuhin, Messiaen, Papineau-Couture, Prévost, Saint-Marcoux, Schafer, Somers, Stockhausen, Tremblay, and Xenakis.

Kendergi has been an indefatigable organizer and publicist on behalf of 20th-century composers and Canadian composers in particular. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1980, and a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec and Chevalier of the Ordre des arts et des lettres de la République française in 1985. She was awarded the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1981, the Victor M. Lynch-Staunton Award of the Canada Council in 1983 and the 1985 Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée. She was elected into the Academy of Great Montrealers in 1988 and to the Royal Society of Canada in 1990.

Writings

'Canadian music or Canadian composers?' Paris Cimaise, 80-1, Apr-Jul 1967

'Le public canadien: pour ou contre la musique moderne?' Contemporary Music and Audiences, CMCouncil conference report (Toronto 1969)

'Notes sur la situation musicale,' Paris Revue d'esthétique, vol 22, 1969

- and Potvin, Gilles, eds. Aspects de la musique au Canada (Montreal 1970)

'Xenakis et les Québécois,' Regards sur Iannis Xenakis (Paris 1981)

Other articles for Vie des arts, Carnet des arts, and the CMB