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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 6, No. 6

Irresistibly Infectious - André Prévost (1934-­2001)

by Marie Trudel / March 1, 2001

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Michel Longtin has taught composition since 1986 at the UniversitŽ de MontrŽal’s Faculty of Music, where he was AndrŽ Provost’s student from 1968 to 1975. He says, “At the time, people had their own way of being melodic and rhythmic, but a PrŽvost always stood out. It was never in PrŽvost’s nature to treat a composition blandly; his music is not subdued. It has traits that are recognisable from one creation to another, without being redundant. I have great regard for several of his pieces,” emphasizes Longtin. Above all, PrŽvost’s style distinguishes itself by its rhythm, as in the movement beginnings from Diallle (1986), or by the opening of ChorŽographie I (1973). I’m also referring to his approach in Pyknon (1968) where certain rhythmic spaces are very characteristic of his language. Equally distinctive is the melodic aspect, as in ƒvanescence (1970), Le Conte de l’oiseau (1979), his string quartets, and both his concertos for violin and cello.”

“Provost influenced several current composers who were his students,” asserts Longtin, who remains sceptical as to the true scope of such an influence on the contemporary Quebec music scene. “The society in which we live,” he explains, “doesn’t allow for any predictions as to the long-term survival of great composers such as PrŽvost. But he was positively infectious! In 1967, on the eve of my entrance to the Department of Science, I had the misfortune of visiting him. It certainly wasn’t the greatest idea for a future chemist because it really shook up my molecules!” says a straight-faced Longtin. “His score of Terre des Hommes impressed me so much that when I left I said to myself, I want to be a composer. I had done two months of chemistry and I transferred into music.”

A sample of his scores can be downloaded with the PDF version of the magazine <www.scena.org>.

[Translated by Deborah Kramer]

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