Denys Bouliane | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Denys Bouliane

Bouliane has received numerous awards, including the PRO Canada prize for Climats (1980). He was the recipient of the 1980 Robert Fleming Award, and in 1982 his work Jeux de Société won the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers and the Gaudeamus Foundation Competition in Holland.
Bouliane, Denys
Bouliane's music has been inspired by sources as diverse as Gregorian chant and jazz (photo by Hans Laven).

Bouliane, Denys

 Denys Bouliane. Composer, teacher, conductor, b Grand-Mère, near Trois-Rivières, Que, 8 May 1955; B MUS composition (Laval) 1977, M MUS composition (Laval) 1979. He studied piano, violin, and composition at Laval University 1972-9 where his teachers were Robert Weisz (piano), Jacques Hétu, Alain Gagnon, and José Evangelista (composition), Roger Bédard (analysis), and Jeanne Landry (fugue). He was a teaching assistant there 1978-80; at the same time he was active within the Association de musique actuelle de Québec and took part in several radio broadcasts of new music, at CKRL-FM and at the CBC. In 1980, on a study grant from the Quebec government, Bouliane attended Darmstadt summer courses followed by Mauricio Kagel's 'Neue Musik Theater' class at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne in the autumn. This led to composition studies in György Ligeti's class at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg until 1985.

Awards and Praise

Bouliane has received numerous awards, including the PRO Canada prize for Climats (1980). He was the recipient of the 1980 Robert Fleming Award, and in 1982 his work Jeux de Société won the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers and the Gaudeamus Foundation Competition in Holland. The Canadian Music Council named him composer of the year in 1983, and the city of Cologne awarded him its 'Förderpreis' for music in 1985. In 1987 Bouliane received the Jules Léger Prize for his chamber music work À propos... et le baron perché? In 1989 he won the first prize of the Forum Junger Komponisten of West German Radio with Le Cactus rieur et la demoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif insatiable, an abridged version of which had been commissioned and premiered by the Quebec Symphony Orchestra in 1988. In 1991 he won the first Prix Serge-Garant awarded by the Fondation Émile-Nelligan. In 1999 Bouliane was awarded the Opus prize by the Quebec Music Council.

German musicologist Peter Niklas Wilson commented on the originality of Bouliane's music in the following terms: "Bouliane's music must be understood as being consciously post modern and, beyond the impeccable veneer of its presentation and sonorous opulence, lies much more than simple beauty of sound. Beauty as illusion, as stylistic hoax, these are the crucial elements of this composer's thoughts. This could well be a new phenomenon in music whose sources of inspiration can be traced in the domain of literature." (excerpt, from a Frankfurt radio broadcast, Oct 1986; see liner notes for SNE 543 CD).

Activities as Composer and Artistic Co-ordinator

Since the late 1970s, Bouliane has been active as director, composer-in-residence, and performer with several ensembles. Late in that decade, he was program director of l'Association de musique actuelle de Quebec. In the 1980s he toured Europe as sound director for Ensemble Köln. In 1991 he founded Série B, nine musicians who explore the limits of acoustics via new electronic instruments. He served on the board of the Kölner Gesellschaft für Neue Music (KGNM) 1990-3, and in 1995 founded Rencontres de Musique Nouvelle, which he co-directs (with Lorraine Vaillancourt). The same year, he joined the artistic committee of the Societé de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ). He co-directed (with Walter Boudreau), the Symphonie du millénaire, a large-scale work involving 19 composers, which commemorated the dawn of the new millennium. In addition, Bouliane's collaboration with director Denis Marleau and choreographer Édouard Lock led to his composition of incidental music for Georg Buchner's Woyzeck (produced in Belgium 1993) and Frank Wedekind's Lulu (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Montreal, 1995-6). As of 2004, Bouliane is artistic co-ordinator (with Boudreau) of Québec-musiques-au-présent, as well as co-ordinator of Montreal's MusiMarch Festival.

From 1992-5, Bouliane was composer-in-residence of l'Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and 1995-6 held the same position with the Heidelberg Philharmonisches Orchester. He is composer-in-residence of the National Arts Centre Orchestra until 2006. He has received commissions from numerous ensembles and organizations such as the Goethe Institute of San Francisco, Banff Arts Centre, Ensemble Köln, SMCQ, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Événements du neuf, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Trio Fibonacci, Bozzini Quartet, York Winds, and from individual artists including Pinchas Zuckerman, Lawrence Cherney, Lori Freedman, and Jonathan Crow.

Teaching, Conducting, and Other Appointments

Bouliane has also been active as a conductor, working with the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble, New Music Concerts, Soundstream, and the symphony orchestras of Quebec, Montreal, and the National Arts Centre.

Bouliane resided mainly in Cologne beginning in 1980, where he worked at the city's radio station. In Canada, he has taken part in radio broadcasts. He lectured in harmony, counterpoint, and instrumentation at Laval University 1978-80, and since 1995 he has been professor of composition at McGill University. He has also written articles for such journals as Canadian University Music Review (CUMR), Perspectives of New Music, and Sonances. His works are regularly performed and broadcast in North America and Europe. He is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.

Selected Compositions

Le Cactus rieur et la demoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif insatiable. 1986. editio-Silène 15. SNE-CD-567. (Quebec Symphony Orchestra)

Concerto for Orchestra (Variations without a theme). 1988-95. editio-Silène 18

Soloist(s) and Orchestra

Douze tiroirs de demi-vérités pour alléger votre descente. 1982 (rev 1984). Pf, orch. editio-Silène 5. SNE-CD-567 (Hamelin)

Jappements à la lune. 1982. SATB, orch. editio-Silène 6

Une foire imaginée. 1982. Perc, orch. Ms

De Sophie à Leon. 1993. Sop, vn, orch. editio-Silène 24

Entre chien et loup (Concerto pour hautbois et orchestre à cordes). 1994-6. Ob, orch. editio-Silène 30.

Concerto pour piano. 1995-7. Pf, orch. editio-Silène 33

Le sexe des anges (Concerto pour clarinette basse). 2000. Bass cl, orch. editio-Silène 44


With Anne LeBaron. 'Darmstadt 1980,' Perspectives of New Music 19, 1980

'Geronnene Zeit und Marration: Gyorgy Ligeti im gesprach,' Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik 149, 1988

'Les Journées mondiales de la musique 1987,' Sonances 7, 1988

'Les Six Études pour piano de Gyorgy Ligeti; ou, l'Art subtil de créer en assumant les referents culturels,' Canadian University Music Review 9, 1989

Chamber Music

Wind Quintet. 1976. editio-Silène 2

Climats pour 14 instrumentalistes. 1978. Perc, 6 winds, 3 strings, piano. editio-Silène 3. RCI 546 (SMCQ)

Jeux de société. 1980 (rev 1981). Wind quintet, piano. editio-Silène 4. SNE 543 (CD) (Ens Köln)

Comme un silène entr'ouvert. 1983 (abridged version); 1985 (complete version). 4 winds, harp, piano, double-bass, tape. editio-Silène 8a & 8b. SNE 543 (CD) (Ens Köln)

Rituel lapidaire en souvenance... 1984 (rev 1985). Eng horn, vibraphone. editio-Silène 9

À propos... et le baron perché? 1985. 9 winds, double-bass. editio-Silène 13. SNE 543 (SMCQ)

... a certain chinese cyclopœdia... 1986. Wind quintet. editio-Silène 14

Neuf résidus pour deux claviers. 1987. editio-Silène 16

Contredanse du silène Badouny. 1998. Pno. editio-Silène 43

Qualia sui. 2001. Piano trio. editio-Silène 46


Quatre chants pour soprano, piano et violoncelle (Nelligan, Saint-Denys Garneau, Grandbois). 1975. editio-Silène 1

Das Affendlied (G. Benn). 1988. Sop. editio-Silène 17

Manche haben trompinetten. 1989-90. Sop, bass cl. editio-Silène 19

Electroacoustic Music

Paraphrase en pente douce sur Le Hareng Saur de Charles Cros. 1984. Tape. editio-Silène 10

Organum. 1985. Slides, tape. editio-Silène 12

Pilu, wo bist du? 1985. Children's game, tape. editio-Silène 11

Pour parer la Parade! 1994. Tape. editio-Silène 27

Further Reading

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