Louise Bessette | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Louise Bessette

Louise Bessette. Pianist, b Montreal 20 Jun 1959; premier prix chamber music (Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal [CMM]) 1979; premier prix piano (CMM) 1980.

Louise Bessette

Louise Bessette. Pianist, b Montreal 20 Jun 1959; premier prix chamber music (Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal [CMM]) 1979; premier prix piano (CMM) 1980. Louise Bessette began studying piano at five and then attended (1971-80) the CMM, where she worked under Georges Savaria and Raoul Sosa. She subsequently received further training 1980-2 from Eugene List in New York, and in Paris with Yvonne Loriod, Claude Helffer, Jay Gottlieb and Dominique Merlet. She won the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition (1981), the first prize at the Concours international de musique contemporaine de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1986) as well as the first prize and piano prize at the International Gaudeamus New Music Competition in Rotterdam (1989).

Moving to France since 1982, Louise Bessette has performed in France, England, Algeria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and other European nations. She played with l'Ensemble Fa and l'Ensemble Alternance in Paris, with the Woodwind Quintet of Stuttgart and the Arditti Quartet of London. With the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, she premiered Métalayi No. 3, a work written for her by Bruno Ducol. She has also performed in the US and Mexico.

During her regular visits to Canada, she was heard on CBC radio, at the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, and at the Montreal International Music Festival; in 1988, she took part in a concert tour of the Orchestre des jeunes du Québec. Bessette has been soloist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with conductors Raffi Armenian, Linda Bouchard and Charles Dutoit. In addition to major European festivals, in Canada she has been heard at the Festival International de Lanaudière and the Festival International du Domaine Forget.

Returning to Canada to live, Louise Bessette began teaching at the Conservatoire de musique à Montréal in 1996.

Her Repertoire

Louise Bessette has distinguished herself by her performances of contemporary repertoire, which she approaches with remarkable conviction and a flawless technique; the extraordinary energy of her playing is difficult to resist, and it has impressed the most demanding of critics. Following a recital of works by Messiaen and Ives (Concord Sonata), Claude Gingras called her performance a 'tour de force... she absolutely proved equal to the Herculean task she had set herself' (Montreal La Presse, 6 Dec 1987). Among the Canadian works she has premiered are Anagramme by Serge Provost (1982), Piano concertant by José Evangelista with the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne (1987), and Chute / Parachute by Michel Gonneville (1990). André Villeneuve and Raoul Sosa have also written for Bessette.

In 1989, Louise Bessette was selected as Woman of the Year in the arts category at the Salon de la femme in Montreal. In 1991, she won the Prix de musique contemporaine Flandre-Québec for her contribution to contemporary music. The Conseil Québécois de la Musique awarded her its Prix Opus 1996-7 as its soloist of the year, and she was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2001 and the Order of Quebec in 2005. Bessette was named an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre in 2009.


Ives Concord Sonata - Messiaen Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus (Nos. 11, 14, 15, 20). 1987. CBC Musica Viva MVCD-1041

Mathieu Chevauchée, Sonate. 1987. 5-ACM 32

Québec 5, U.S.A. 3. Garant - Tremblay - Saint-Marcoux - I. Panneton - Alain Gagnon and others. 1988. SNE 553 (CD)

Les Transcriptions de Schönberg, l'École de Vienne No. 2: Arditti Quar, Chaignaud bar, Béroff conductor. 1989. Montaigne JM-01

Canadian Music for Piano. Daniel Foley - Alexina Louie - Ann Southam - Linda Catlin Smith - Jacques Hétu. 1993. CBC Records MVCD 1064

Louise Bessette and Marc-André Hamelin. Matton - Hamelin - Prévost - Hétu - Landry - Matton. 1993. Les éditions Doberman-Yppan DO 137-CD

Nouvelle Musique Montréalaise. Villeneuve - Panneton - Lesage - Provost - Arcuri - Lemire - Hyland. Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. 1994. SNE Techni Sonore SNE 590-CD

Waltzes and Bagatelles. Strauss - Dvorak. Quatuor Alcan. 1995. Analekta Fleurs de lys FL 2 3083

Louise Bessette and / et Martine Desroches. Prévost - Hétu - Sharman. 1998. Les éditions Doberman-Yppan DO 262-CD

Les Lauréats. André Villeneuve - Wim Henderickx - Peter Swinnen - Annelies Van Parys - André Ristic. 2003. Atma ACD 22281

Tango Diablo! 2003. Sept Jardins SJCD-1910

See also Discography for L. Daoust

Further Reading