Michel Gonneville | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Michel Gonneville

Gonneville, Michel. Composer, b Montreal 31 Jul 1950; B MUS (Vincent-d'Indy/Sherbrooke) 1972, premier prix analysis (CMM) 1974, premier prix composition (CMM) 1975, D MUS (Montreal) 1997.

Gonneville, Michel

Gonneville, Michel. Composer, b Montreal 31 Jul 1950; B MUS (Vincent-d'Indy/Sherbrooke) 1972, premier prix analysis (CMM) 1974, premier prix composition (CMM) 1975, D MUS (Montreal) 1997. A student at the École Vincent-d'Indy, Michel Gonneville also studied in 1969 at the Conservatoire de musique Montral (CMM) with Françoise Aubut, Gaston Arel, Irving Heller, and Gilles Tremblay. During the summer of 1974, assisted by a Canada Council grant, he participated in seminars given by Stockhausen, Kagel and Xenakis in Darmstadt. Two other grants from the Canada Council and the Quebec Ministry of Education made possible a study period 1975-8 in Europe, which allowed him to attend Stockhausen's composition courses in Cologne and to work in the electronic music studio of the Musikhochschule with Hans Ulrich Humpert. In Liège, he became the student and assistant of Henri Pousseur. During the summer of 1976, he took part in an experiment in collective composition at Rolf Gelhaar's composition studio.

After his return to Montreal in 1978, Gonneville began to teach as a sessional lecturer at the Rimouski Conservatoire, at the CMM, and at the University of Ottawa. He taught at the University of Montreal in 1985, where he began doctoral studies in 1983 with Serge Garant, then with Marcelle Deschênes, completing them in 1997 with John Rea. He also has been involved in concert promotion for the Société de musique contemporaine du Qubec, the Événements du neuf, and the Nouvel ensemble moderne. In 1987 he was invited to participate in the Canadian Music Festival and Conference held at the University of San Diego. Two years later, the composer reached a turning point with his work Chute-parachute (1989) for piano and electronics, in which he focussed his musical resources to create an identifiable and stable musical language. Chute-parachute was a recommended work at the International Rostrum of Composers and has become one of Gonnevilles most frequently played compositions.

Noteworthy Compositions 1990s-2000s
In 1991 Gonneville began working on a chamber opera, Hozhro (libretto by Pierre Dansereau), dealing with the personal impact of an ecological crisis. It was finished in 2008 and recorded by the Bozzini Quartet with Marianne Lambert and Mathieu Gaulin. Adonwe (1994, a concerto for piano and chamber orchestra) was recorded by Marc-André Hamelin and the Ensemble contemporain de Montral under Vronique Lacroix in 1999. Other notable works include Rgions loignes (1995), for 18 musicians and electronics, premiered in Lyon; Le messager (1996-9), premiered by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; Suivre la trace, perdre le fil (2000), commissioned and premiered by the Molinari Quartet; Microphone Songs (2002) for the Crash Ensemble; and Intendami chi p (2004) for the Hilliard Ensemble. Gonneville has been involved in many collective works including the Symphonie du Millnaire (2000) in Montreal and, in 2001 and 2005, he worked with Espace sonore illimit in composing and performing Symphonie des éléments. In March 2008, New Music Concerts in Toronto presented an evening dedicated to Gonneville's works and those of his students.

Gonneville's Musical Language

In the works of Gonneville, traditional concepts of melody, consonance, and repetition interact with contemporary techniques while aiming for unity and structural and formal integrity. Each of his works draws on central aspects of his technical background, such as quasi-monodic structures (Rôles, which won a prize at the CBC National Competition for Young Composers in 1975, Le Sommeil, le regard, le choix) or complex contrapuntal superimpositions (Baustelle, S'entendre comme bois et métal). Though rooted in high European modernist practice, Gonneville has especially since his stylistic re-appraisal in the late 1980s nevertheless sought to reconcile the tradition of intricate structure he inherited with matters of human perception and dramatic necessity.

Awards; Appointments

Gonneville was awarded the Serge Garant prize by the mile Nelligan Foundation in 1994. He has taught composition and analysis at the CMM since 1997. He was on the programming committee of the SMCQ (1979-2007), and has been involved in concert promotion for the SMCQ, vnements de neuf, and the Nouvel ensemble moderne. Gonneville is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers.

Selected Compositions

Stage and Electroacoustic Music
Baustelle. 1976-8. Tape

Stella, ballet. 1985

Chute-Parachute. 1989. Tape

Petit Tchaikovski ou La Liquéfaction de la lumière. 1990. Child soprano, 2 soprano, bar, 2 actors, 4 synthesizer, amplified violoncello, percussion. Ms


"Liège à Köln. What's happening in Liège, what's Pousseur doing," Feedback Papers, 17, Feb 1979

"Notes éparses sur la "différence pacifique." Les compositeurs de la jeune génération," Dérives, 44-45, 1984

"Humeurs postmodernes," Circuit, vol 1, no. 1, 1991

Ce qui doit sortir, Circuit, vol. 3, no. 1, 1992

Dici et dailleurs, Circuit, vol. 6, no. 2, 1995

Faire face la musique, and Lloge de la difference, Circuit, vol. 7, no. 1, 1996

Jeu de raclures, Circuit, vol. 8, no. 1, 1997

Le charme trange des espaces familier: Priple analytique dans Treppenmusik de John Rea, Circuit, vol. 11, no. 1, 2000

La Seconde Apothose de Rameau: Au-del de la polmique and other articles, Circuit, vol 12, no. 1, 2001

Henri Pousseur: Couleurs croises et La seconde apothose de Rameau, Circuit, vol 15, no. 2, 2005

Jean Mozart Lesage, Ou une boussole pour deriver, Circuit, vol. 18, no. 2, 2008

Orchestra Or Large Forces

À deux. 1980. Ms

Adonwe. Piano, orchestra, other instr. 1994. Ms

Le messager. Symphony orchestra. 1996-9. Ms

Symphonie du millnaire. With Serge Arcuri, Walter Boudreau, Yves Daoust, Alain Dauphinais, Andr Duchesne, Louis Dufort, Sean Ferguson, Andr Hamel, Alain Lalonde, Estelle Lemire, Jean Lesage, Luc Marcel, Marie Pelletier, John Rea, Anthony Rozankovic, Gilles Tremblay. Denys Bouliane arrangement, Vincent Collard libretto. 333 musicians, 2000 bell-ringers, 15 steeples, 1 great organ, 1 56-bell chime and 2 fire trucks. 2000. Ms

Symphonie des elements. With Alain Dauphinais, Andr Hamel, Alain Lalonde. 85 musicians. 2000. Ms


Trio (A. Lamarre). 1971. Vn, trombone, piano, percussion, speaker. Ms

Ouverture. 1972. Db, piano, 3 percussion. Ms

Inclusions. 1973. 4 saxophone, piano, guitar, amplified bass guitar, percussion. Ms

Rôle. 1975. Rec, violin, guitar, amplified harpsichord. Ms

Guide. 1976. 5 instr. Ms

Contribution à l'étude de certains phénomènes musicaux. 1977 (rev 1985). Pf. Ms

Variations 'auras'. 1978 (rev 1986). Fl (piccolo), english horn, clarinet, trumpet, horn, trombone, violin, viola, violoncello. Ms

Guide II. 1980. 5 instr. Ms

Le Sommeil, le regard, le choix. 1981. Guit. Ms

Solidaires. 1982 (rev 1983). 4 ondes M. Ms

S'entendre comme bois et métal. 1983 (rev 1984). Perc (percussion, computer, synthesizer). Ms

Apò katabolês kósmou. 1986. 2 guitar. Ms

Se Abrasa Lumbre con Lumbra. 1986. 2 guitar. Ms

Appel-rappel. 1987. 12 brass, percussion. Ms

Musique des jardins sans complexe. With Walter Boudreau, Michel-Georges Brgent, Michel Gonneville, Denis Gougeon, Alain Lalonde, John Rea. Four horns, four trumpets, two trombones, two tubas, four percussion. 1987. Ms

Approches. Chamber orchestra. 1991. Ms

Alonetogetherall. Clarinet, trumpet, double bass, piano, and percussion. 1992. Ms

Rgions loignes. Two mezzo-soprani, baritone, flute, recorder, oboe, clarinet, tenor saxophone, trumpet, tuba, two guitars, two pianos, percussion, cello, electronics (pre-recorded and live processing). 1995. Ms

Suivre la trace, perdre le fil. String quartet. 2000. Ms

loiseau du cri la qute des ailes Solo clarinet. 2004. Ms

Intendami chi p (Ricerca in rime politiche). Four vocal soloists. 2004. Ms

Hozhro. Soprano, soprano saxophone, string quartet. Pierre Dansereau libretto. 1991-2008. Ms

Relais-papillons. Chamber ensemble. 2009. Ms


Trois poèmes d'Alain Fournier. 1974. Sop, fl, clarinet. Ms. RCI 493 (P. Vaillancourt)

Die Parole (Brecht). 1978. Sop (child voice or 4 unison voices), clarinet, violoncello, piano, percussion. Ms

Bouteille dans l'espace '3 chansons sur un thème de la paix' (A. Fournier). 1984. Spkr, bar, contralto, instr ensemble, drums, tape (optional). Ms

Also the sound track for the film Tu brûles, tu brûles (1972) and the collective works with the Groupe des sisses (see W. Boudreau)


Chute/Parachute. Piano and electronics. 1989. Ms

Adonwe. Piano, orchestra, other instr. 1994. Ms

Naturel tempr. Microtonal piano. 2003. Ms


Mozart, Gonneville. Marc-Andr Hamelin piano, Ensemble Contemporain de Montral, Vronique Lacroix conductor. 1999. Port Royal Records PR2207

Lesage: Fantasia Stravagante/Gonneville: Chute-Parachute/Harley: flung loose into the stars. Marc Couroux piano. 2000. ATMA Classique ACD22180

Naturel: Music from Montreal and Lige. Jean-Pierre Peuvion clarinet, Francis Orval horn, Yolande Parent soprano, Euterpe Quartet, Tellus Quartet, Launeddas Ensemble. 2005. ATMA Classique ACD22363

Michel Gonneville: Hozhro. Marianne Lambert soprano, Mathieu Gaulin saxophones, Bozzini Quartet. 2008. Collection QB CQB 0907

Further Reading