Pro Musica Society | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Pro Musica Society

Founded in 1948 in Montreal by Gertrude Constant Gendreau, with financial assistance from her husband, to present chamber music from all periods.

Pro Musica Society/Société Pro Musica

Pro Musica Society (Montreal)/Société Pro Musica. Founded in 1948 in Montreal by Gertrude Constant Gendreau, with financial assistance from her husband, to present chamber music from all periods. The first concert, 17 Oct 1948, was given by the Stuyvesant String Quartet and the clarinetist Clark Brody at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Until 1964 tickets were available only by subscription. Thereafter the use of larger halls (eg, the Maisonneuve Theatre in the PDA in 1991) made single-ticket sales possible.

The Pro Musica Society offers approximately nine chamber music concerts per season as part of its Emerald Concert Series. In addition to regular programming the society satisfies an educational role through the Topaz Concerts, a series of Sunday matinee concerts for children and their families. A third series, in collaboration with the Société de la Place des Arts, known as the Mélodînes, presents lunchtime concerts. Every year 500 free tickets are distributed to young adults in Montreal universities and faculties of music. Besides education, Pro Musica also offers philanthropic programs to blind music-lovers and chemotherapy and AIDS patients.

Many concerts during the 1960s and 1970s were devoted to complete sets of works by Beethoven: string quartets (1955, Vegh Quartet), piano trios (1960, 1966, 1979, Beaux Arts Trio), piano sonatas (1961, Wilhelm Kempff), sonatas and variations for cello and piano (1965, André Navarra and Jacqueline Dussol); and also of Bartók: the string quartets (1959, Juilliard Quartet), and Mozart: the quartets for flute and strings (1959, Jean-Pierre Rampal and the Pasquier Trio). Among Canadian performers presented by Pro Musica have been the duo-pianists Bouchard and Morisset, Louise Bessette, Maureen Forrester, Glenn Gould, Marc-André Hamelin, Louis Lortie, I Musici de Montréal, Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Sophie Rolland, Ronald Turini, Angèle Dubeau, Michael McMahon, Richard Raymond, Chantal Lambert, the Pierre-Rolland Ensemble, the Alcan, the Claudel, and the Arthur-Leblanc and Orford string quartets, Violons du Roy, and the Montreal Symphony Chamber Choir.

International ensembles that have performed for Pro Musica concerts have included: Moscow's Akademia Chorovaya choir, the Camerata Bern, the Netherland's Ensemble, Giardino Armorico, I Solisti Veneti; the Trios Di Milano, Fontenay, Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson, Verdi Eroika and Wanderer; and the Borodine, Carmina, Colorado, Melos, Orlando, Talich, Leipzig, Berlin Philharmonia, Stamitz, Hagen and Prazak quartets.

Works given their first Montreal performances under Pro Musica auspices include Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 1, Suite for piano, and Woodwind Quintet and Berg's Lyric Suite. Canadian works premiered by the society include Freedman'sThree French Songs, Hétu's Sonata (1962), and Pépin'sSéquences. The revised version of Claude Champagne'sString Quartet was given its first performance in its final version. In 1979 the Pro Musica Society established the Gertrude Gendreau Prize awarded annually to a music student in Montreal.

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