Victor Bouchard

Victor Bouchard. Pianist, administrator, composer, born Ste-Claire-de-Dorchester, near Quebec City, 11 Apr 1926, died Québec City 22 Mar 2011; LLL (Laval) 1948, premier prix piano (CMQ) 1950. Victor Bouchard took his first sustained music studies 1941-6 at the Collège de Lévis with Father Alphonse Tardif, and continued 1946-50 at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec with Tardif (harmony), Hélène Landry (piano), and Françoise Aubut (theory). In 1949 he received the piano prize of the Rotary Club. He married the pianist Renée Morisset in 1950. After completing his training 1950-2 in Paris with Alfred Cortot and Antoine Reboulot he returned to Canada and in October 1952 in Quebec City, he and his wife gave a two-piano recital, followed shortly afterwards by a performance of Mozart's Concerto K365 for two pianos and orchestra. These programs marked the arrival before the public of a two-piano team whose reputation soon extended across Canada, the US, and Europe.

A second study period 1952-3 in Paris with Reboulot also gave rise to numerous public recitals by Bouchard and Morisset, as well as radio and TV appearances. They toured in Canada 1955-6, 1957-8, 1961-2, and 1962-3 for the Jeunesses musicales of Canada (JMC), and 1956-7 in France for the Jeunesses musicales, and in Belgium, Holland, and Italy. They also appeared with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, and the leading orchestras of Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg. After an appearance at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York they gave numerous recitals 1965-70 in the USA and Canada.

Bouchard and Morisset had a large repertoire both for two pianos and for piano four hands. They premiered and played, both in Canada and abroad, several works written especially for them, including Clermont Pépin's Nombres (1963) for two pianos and orchestra, Roger Matton's Concerto (1964, performed with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra 17 Jan 1971 at the inauguration of Quebec City's Grand Théâtre), and Jacques Hétu's Sonata (1965). Their 1965 recording of the Matton work won the Prix Pierre-Mercure at the 1966 Festival du disque, Montreal. As Jacob Siskind wrote in the Montreal Gazette (7 Mar 1977), the duo was 'the most distinguished piano team that Canada has ever produced.' Its stylistic authority and virtuosity earned the 1964 Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée. Appointed members of the Order of Canada in 1981, Bouchard and Morisset were elevated to the rank of officers in 1985, and were made chevaliers of the Ordre national du Québec in 1994. In 1997 they were made members of the Academie des Grands Québecois, and in 2004 they received the Prix de la Fondation from the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.

Teacher, Administrator, and Composer

While pursuing his career as a pianist, Victor Bouchard also served 1955-66 as a teacher and music director at the JMC Orford Arts Centre. In 1967 he joined the Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec, where he held the positions of general director of the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec 1967-71, director of the music section 1971-5, and adviser 1975-8. He resumed his former duties as general director of the Conservatoire de musique 1978-80. He served 1957-9 as national president of the JMC, and in 1961 as vice-president of the Académie de musique du Québec and sat on numerous juries including, in 1976, that for the Montreal International Music Competition. Bouchard composed a string quartet, Danse canadienne for violin and piano (1945, Presser 1950; also transcribed for two pianos), a Toccata (1953), and about 100 harmonizations of French-Canadian folksongs, some of which were performed by Maureen Forrester, Gaston Germain, Jacques Labrecque, and (on RCI 393) Bruno Laplante.

Le Grand Duo: Bouchard et Morisset pianistes duettistes, a book and CD about the couple by Carole Bessette, appeared in 2008.

Discography

(Bouchard and Morisset)

Dvořák Slavic Dances - Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances Opus 45. (1990). REM 311129-XCD

Évolution de la musique pour deux pianos: Mozart - Brahms - Schumann - Bartók - Milhaud. Ca 1952. Club national du disque CND-28

Évolution de la musique pour piano à quatre mains: Bach - Brahms - Fauré - Poulenc - Stravinsky. Ca 1952. CND-50?

Matton Concerto. TS, Susskind conductor. 1965. Cap SW-6123/CRI SD-317/5-ACM 29

Mozart - Soler - Pépin - Debussy. 1968. CBC SM-61/(Pépin) 4-ACM 5

Mozart Sonata No. 3 K497 -Schubert Rondo, Opus 138; Fantasy, Opus 103. 1976 Sel C-15.080

Muethel Sonata duetto - Bouchard Toccata; Danse canadienne - Hétu Sonata. (1967). RCI 227/RCA CCS-1021/(Hétu) 4-ACM 31 (CD)

Ssint-Saëns Le Carnaval des animaux. Vigeant narrator, O métropolitain, M. Bélanger conductor. 1984. CBC CH-002