Over to Quebec this week for a sampling of the work by French – Canadian composer Roger Matton.
Roger Matton OC (18 May 1929 – 7 June 2004) was a Canadian composer, ethnomusicologist, and music educator. As a composer his works are characterized by their association with folklore and folkmusic. In 1965 he was awarded the Prix de la création at the Congrès du spectacle. In 1966 the Montreal Symphony Orchestra included his Mouvement symphonique II in their concert repertoire for their 1966 tour of the Soviet Union, making it one of the first symphonic works by a Canadian composer to be performed in that nation. He was awarded the Calixa-Lavallée Award in 1969 and in 1984 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Born in Granby, Quebec, Matton was trained at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal where he was a pupil of Claude Champagne (composition), Isabelle Delorme (music theory), and Arthur Letondal (piano). He pursued further studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen, and Andrée Vaurabourg. He then studied ethnology at the National Museum of Canada with Marius Barbeau.
Matton started his career working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a composer in both radio and television. In 1956 he joined the staff of Université Laval where he worked as a researcher and ethnomusicologist in the UL’s folklore archives through 1976. He notably transcribed roughly 300 Acadian songs between 1957 and 1959. Among his notable students was composer Alain Gagnon.
This piece, Brazilian Dance was written in 1946 and the orchestral version has been played by several orchestras around the world. This 2-piano version was the original conception of the piece, and only later was it orchestrated. This CBC Broadcast recording comes from around 1955, from most likely from the same session that produced his Concerto For 2 Pianos and Percussion (which I will run at a later date). In the meantime, have a listen to this seldom performed work by one of Canada’s notable composers.