Michel Perrault | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Michel Perrault

Perrault, Michel (Brunet). Composer, conductor, percussionist, teacher, b Montreal 20 Jul 1925. He first studied theory and timpani with Louis Decair at the McGill Conservatory 1941-3 and later enrolled at the CMM where he studied oboe 1943-4 with Réal Gagnier.

Perrault, Michel

Perrault, Michel (Brunet). Composer, conductor, percussionist, teacher, b Montreal 20 Jul 1925. He first studied theory and timpani with Louis Decair at the McGill Conservatory 1941-3 and later enrolled at the CMM where he studied oboe 1943-4 with Réal Gagnier. He took private harmony lessons 1943-6 with Gabriel Cusson. He was timpanist 1944-6 with the MSO and 1945-6 the Little Symphony of Montreal. In Paris 1946-7 he studied at the École normale de musique with Nadia Boulanger, Arthur Honegger, and Georges Dandelot. On his return to Montreal he studied with Conrad Letendre. He worked 1949-68 as a composer and conductor for the CBC, obtaining the Radiomonde prize in 1950 for his radio scores. As a percussionist he premiered Critics' Corner by Alexander Brott with the McGill String Quartet in 1950. He served 1949-65 as percussionist and 1957-60 assistant conductor of the MSO and 1958-62 as music director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. After undertaking research in musical pedagogy, Perrault participated in the founding 1970 of the Institut de sciences musicales Conrad Letendre (Institut de recherche Pantonal Inc).

As a composer Perrault has distinguished himself by his sense of form, his mastery of the instruments of the orchestra, and his successful utilization of Quebec folk music. Concerning his style, he has said: 'I'm a classicist living in the wrong period. Dodecaphonism, serialism, or any other ''ism,'' are not for me. I like a folk tune and the harmony that goes with it' (Thirty-four Biographies). He has received commissions from the CBC, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Perrault did not produce any new works between 1968 and 1978. The few works he composed 1978-90 reflect his search and aim for, in his words, a 'natural ecological purity'. From the late 1970s onwards, he was closely associated with the Gerald Danovitch Saxophone Quartet, for which he wrote original works and several arrangements, including the suite Esquisses québécoises recorded by the ensemble for McGill University Records (85022). Perrault founded his own music publishing firm in Montreal, Les Publications Bonart.

Selected Compositions

Commedia del arte, ballet. 1958. Ms

Sea Gallows, ballet. 1958. Med orch. Bonart. 1958. RCI 185 (CBC Montreal orch, Perrault conductor)

Suite canadienne, ballet. 1965. Ms

Also incidental music for several plays, notably Antigone (1949), Caligula (1950), La Farce du pendu dépendu (1950), and Huon de Bordeaux (1950)


as Conductor
See Compositions; see also Le Magicien


Monologues. 1954. Str orch. Bonart

Mambo della Destra. 1961. Full orch. Ms

Centennial Homage, overture for BC's second century. 1966. Full orch. Bonart 1966

Works for small orch, including Les Fleurettes (1947), RCI 7 (J.-M. Beaudet); Promenade (1954); Scherzo (1954); arr of French-Canadian folksongs, 10 recorded ca 1958 on RCI 153 (Montreal CBC orch, Perrault conductor)

Several works for soloist(s) and orch, including for violoncello: Les Trois Cônes (1949, manuscript) and La Belle Rose (1952, Bonart); for trumpet: Fête et parade (1952, Bonart), Pastiche espagnol (1956, Bonart), and Pastiche tzigane (1957, Bonart); for harp: Margoton (1954, Bonart) and Jeux de quartes (1961, manuscript); also Esquisses en plein air (Saint-Denys Garneau) for soprano and strings (1954, Bonart); Le Saucisson canadien for 4 saxophone and strings (1955, Bonart); Bérubée for piano and orch (1959, Bonart); Serenade per tre fratelli for 3 hns and orch (1962, manuscript); a Concerto for double-bass (1962, manuscript); and a Concerto for horn (1967, Bonart)


Triangulaire (Les Trois Cônes). 1945. Cl, harp, string quartet. Ms

Les Aquarelles. 1946. Vn, piano. Ms

Sonata. 1946. Vn, piano. Ms

Solitude. 1948. Vn, piano. BMIC 1951

Quartet. 1953. Saxophone quartet. Bonart. RCI 91 (A. Romano)

Trio. 1954. Vn, violoncello, piano. Bonart. RCI 125 (Bress)

Sextet. 1955. Cl, harp, string quartet. Bonart. RCI 125 (Montreal String Quartet)

Georgian Rhapsody. 1987. Alto saxophone, piano. Ms

Le Vol du torchon bleu. 1988. Mar, bar saxophone, piano. Ms

Also several Tarantelles for violin (1980s, Mss)

Also works for jazz ensemble published by Bonart: Prélude et fugue à l'américaine (1956); Half and Half (1957); Real Gone (1957), Two Three-Part Fugues (1957); All Wet (1959); Blues Prelude and Fugue (1959); and the suite Three Shades (1959)

Choir or Voice

Plus matin que la lune. 1953. V, harp. Ms

Fontaines noires; douces fontaines. 1956. Ten, 2 harp. Bonart

Arr of Franco-Canadian folksongs published by Bonne Chanson and Édn Chantemuse; 3 of them recorded on CBC SM-103 (Maxwell)

Numerous fugues for vocal quartet on folk and popular tunes written in the 1980s

Further Reading

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