The New Generation of Composers in Quebec

By Belkin, Alan | Canadian University Music Review, January 1, 1989 | Go to article overview

The New Generation of Composers in Quebec

Belkin, Alan, Canadian University Music Review


Who are the new composers of serious music1 in Quebec today? What do they think about their art and their musical environment? Following an idea originally proposed by Carolyn Jones, Marie-Thérèse Lefebvre (professor of musicology at the Université de Montréal), Mireille Gagné (director of the Montreal branch of the Canadian Music Centre) and I attempted to answer these questions. With financial help from our respective institutions, we interviewed 25 of the younger composers in Quebec.

We originally hoped to publish the interviews together in a book. However, it became apparent that they could only be homogenized to a consistent format with great difficulty: there were too many important differences in style, tone, degree of detail, and quality of expression. Since this material is a treasure of first-hand documentation about the state of music in Quebec today, coming from the people at the centre of it, we hope that, in the future, someone wiU undertake a lengthier study of it. For the moment, this article summarizes the main findings so as to bring the material to the notice of the musical community. Some quotations will convey a little of the flavour of the interviews.2

The interviews were conducted according to a questionnaire, a copy of which is appended to this article. We divided this questionnaire into five areas: musical background; the process of composition; aesthetic attitudes; "professional" matters, having to do with money; and finally, extra-musical, cultural issues. Each area was explored in a series of questions, and the interviewee was left free to expand as necessary within this framework. No interview lasted more than one hour, and all were taped. The language of the interview was chosen by the composer.

The following composers responded.3

Raynald Arsenault

Gilles Bellemare

Alan Belkin

Richard Boucher

Michelle Boudreau

Walter Boudreau

Michel-Georges Brégent

Brian Cherney

José Evangeüsta

Claude Frenette

Michel Gonneville

Denis Gougeon

Robert Jones

Andre Lamarche

Alain Lalonde

Anne Lauber

Michel Longtin

Robin Minard

Antoine Padilla

John Rea

Donald Steven

Keith Tedman

Paul Theberge

Pierre Trochu

John Winiarz

Our first criterion for selection was simply age: no composer could be older than his/her forties at the time of the interviews in 1984. We set this limit so as to exclude more established composers whose opinions were already well documented elsewhere. In the case of the younger composers, we excluded those still in school at any level lower than doctoral studies. Another criterion was residence: the composer had to have lived for a substantial time in Quebec and had to be currently making his/her career there.


The first part of the questionnaire addressed the composer's musical background. In trying to pinpoint their first musical interests, a few composers said they "just knew young" that they were going to compose. Some composers, Uke Michel Gonneville who came from a musical family, cited an older person who acted as a catalyst. Some, like Michel-Georges Brégent, began by playing classical repertoire on an instrument. Many composers mentioned the influence of the popular music they heard around them. Since this popular music came largely from records and the radio, and since the instrumental repertoire they came to know as children consisted largely of European classical music, it is perhaps not surprising that most of these composers have come to see themselves more as "world composers" than as "Quebec composers."

It is striking that only three of the 25 composers mentioned their school as being musically significant (and one of these, Robert Jones, was American-schooled). Unlike many places in the U.S., Quebec does not have an elaborate music program in its schools. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The New Generation of Composers in Quebec


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.