Savaria, Georges

Georges Savaria. Pianist, ondist, teacher, administrator, composer, b Montreal 27 Mar 1916. He took piano and organ lessons from his father, Joseph-Élie, and private theory lessons from Claude Champagne. In 1937 he received the Prix d'Europe for piano. He went to Paris to study harmony and theoretical subjects with Louis Aubert, piano with Lazare Lévy, Marguerite Long, and Pierre Lucas, and, at the Schola cantorum, counterpoint with Daniel Lesur and organ with Olivier Messiaen. The war interrupted his studies; he was interned in a camp near Paris but he escaped and returned to Canada in 1943. His book, Hors de portée (Mandeville, Que, 1980), describes these experiences.

As a pianist Savaria gave recitals 1943-56 in Quebec and performed on radio and TV; he played the Schumann Concerto in 1944 and 1947 with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra and in 1948 at the MSO Matinées. He was a music consultant and producer 1953-64 with the CBC and wrote the incidental music for many TV dramas (including Lorca's Yerma and House of Bernarda Alba). He also contributed to productions by the Nouvelle compagnie théâtrale, the Théâtre de l'Égrégoire, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (Médée 1960), and documentaries by the ORTF in 1963 and Radio Québec in 1970.

Having studied the ondes Martenot 1959-60 with the instrument's inventor through correspondence courses, Savaria was the ondist in some background scores for Shakespeare productions at the 1959 Stratford Festival and in the premiere in 1960 of Claude Champagne's Altitude by the CBC Symphony Orchestra.

As early as 1952 Savaria taught piano at the CMM and in 1965 he received a permanent appointment there. Céline Boucher and Albert Grenier are among his pupils. He taught piano 1976-8 at the Conservatoire de Trois-Rivières and was its director 1978-80. During these years he developed an interest in school music and worked to promote the arts in the district of Mauricie, especially in St-Léon-de-Maskinongé.

Savaria composed a piano concerto in 1951 and songs and piano pieces, some of which were published in Le Passe-Temps (Pavane de Michel in 1946) and by the Éditions laurentiennes (Variations canadiennes).

Savaria's daughter Marie (b Montreal 29 Sep 1956; premier prix flute and chamber music, Versailles Conservatoire, 1976) was a pupil 1970-1 of Wolfgang Kander in Montreal, 1971-4 of Jean-Paul Major at the CMM, and 1974-6 of Roger Bourdin at the Versailles Conservatoire. She has taught flute and theory at the École Ste-Croix in Montreal and at the Cégep in Trois-Rivières.