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Chez DAMASE
The Unofficial Website of Jean-Michel Damase




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Born on 27 January 1928, Jean-Michel Damase composes in a style often compared to Francis Poulenc, Maurice Ravel, Serge Prokofiev, Albert Roussel, and Jacques Ibert; incorporating many of the rhythmic and harmonic complexities associated with twentieth-century French music. Throughout his career, Damase has remained a traditionalist, "continuing the post-tonal line of Debussy and Ravel without the modish interest in their deeper-seated implications."* Or, in the composers own words, "I prefer sincerity to forced innovation." His music is accessible without being lightweight; melodic, tonal, yet harmonically complex, playful, respectful of tradition and form, and superbly crafted. 

In spite of his works’ obvious and readily appreciated merits, too few are familiar with Jean-Michel Damase. Because very little information is available about the composer and his works, I created this site to assemble as much of it as possible and share it with others.

My goal is to encourage those who are not yet familiar with Damase to seek out his very rewarding music. If you are fortunate enough to have enjoyed hearing or performing Damase’s works, I hope I can provide some useful information about discovering more.

I welcome your comments, corrections and additions. Please send information to:
chezdamase@sbcglobal.net

Last updated on 23 December 2006
 
*The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1st Edition

Headlines

The newly revised Catalogue of Works 
has been reviewed and approved by Jean-Michel Damase.

Portrait [Courtesy of Editions Henry Lemoine]
"What remains as one of the minor mysteries of the last half-century of musical history is the fact that, for all the immediate attractiveness of his compositional voice, the work of Jean-Michel Damase has remained such a well-kept secret."
Christopher Morley 
from his program notes for 

Piano Music by Jean-Michel Damase

Recommended Recordings

Gramophone Magazine
Critic's Choice &
Good CD Guide selection

«««««
BBC Music Magazine

Highest ratings
All categories

Recent Recordings

If the music of Jean-Michel Damase is new to you, or if you wish to hear more, the following recordings are highly recommended as places to start. While they also appear in the Discography, they are featured here for being dedicated exclusively to the music of Jean-Michel Damase. Recent Recordings are found below and contain works by Damase, but are not dedicated solely to them.
The Ecoensemble Trio (Morena Mestieri, flute; Paola Fundarò, oboe; Anna Bellagamba, piano) have recorded the Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano, included on their self-titled release for EurArte. Founded in 1991, the award-winning ensemble include many rare and neglected works in their repertoire. Their CD, with additional works by Eugène Goossens, Gordon Jacob, Franco Margola and Giordano Tunioli, can be purchased directly from EurArte.
Piano Music by Jean-Michel Damase, performed by Nicholas Unwin has been released on Somm Recordings. The program consists of the following:
bulletIntroduction et Allegro
bulletThème et Variations
bulletSonate  
bulletApparition 
bulletHuit Etudes
bulletSonatine

In their May 2004 issue, BBC Music Magazine has awarded this recording «««««, its highest rating, in all categories. Mr Unwin and Somm Recordings are to be congratulated for their tremendous achievement! Here is an excerpt of the review:
bullet "Though it might be dismissed by the snootier elements of the music press - the music is resolutely tonal with conservative harmonies, is attractive and immediately enjoyable - for me Damase is the most pleasurable discovery since encountering Kapustin, elements of whose style he shares."
Jeremy Nicholas, BBC Music Magazine, May 2004

This is the most important addition to the recorded repertoire of Damase in over a decade. Please support the gifted composer, the incredibly talented performer and brave record label, Somm Recordings, and purchase this CD.

 

Recent Recordings

The première recording of Quatre facettes for Flute and Guitar by The Harris-Coates Duo (Debora Harris, flute and Mike Coates, guitar) is included on their recent CD release, White Peacock, available from Barking Dog Records. For more information, click here


Future Performances & Events

bulletNone at this time. If you know of or are participating in a performance of any work by Damase, please submit any information to chezdamase@yahoo.com. Please feel free to include graphics, photos and hyperlinks.

Notable Performance & Event Coverage

bullet USA International Harp Competition (July 2004)
Bloomington, Indiana USA
Whilst serving as a judge at the bi-annual USA International Harp Competition, Monsieur Damase presented a lecture on French music, as well as taught a Master Class for Indiana University composition students.
bulletThe new production of L'Héritière by the Marseille Opera (May 2004)
Marseille, France

To tremendous critical acclaim, the Opéra Municipal de Marseille (France) presented a new production of L'Héritière (The Heiress), Damase's opera from 1974, with a libretto by Louis Decreux, after an adaptation by Ruth & Augustus Goetz of Washington Square by Henry James. Performances ran from 6-13 May 2004. 

Event Coverage includes:
bullet Complete list of credits
bulletExclusive coverage of the pre-concert lecture by André Peyregne, with the composer and Claude Melloni (creator of the role of "Morris Townsend") as guests. 
(Courtesy of Bernard A.M. Dreyer, French correspondent for Chez DAMASE)
bulletVersion française
bulletEnglish translation
bulletReviews appearing in Le Monde & Les Echos

bulletConcert - Jean-Michel Damase (May 2004)
Marseille, France

Conservatoire National de Région de Marseille; Salle Zino Francescatti
Professors and students of the Marseille Conservatoire had the rare opportunity to present a concert/examination recital in the presence of the composer. 



 
Paris premiere of the Concertino for Piano & String Orchestra
The Paris premiere of the Concertino for Piano & String Orchestra took place 18, 24 & 29 January 2004 at the Salle Cortot of the École Normale de Musique de Paris with the noted pianist, Françoise Parrot-Hanlet, as soloist. Both the soloist and composer are on faculty at the school and were able to collaborate extensively prior to the premiere. The performances met with great success by critics and audiences alike. One can only hope that this success will lead to more performances by Parrot-Hanlet in the UK and Europe. Contact Mme Parrot-Hanlet by clicking on her name above or here.
Françoise Parrot-Hanlet at the piano during the Paris premiere of Concertino for Piano & String Orchestra Parrot-Hanlet acknowledges the composer (seated in box on the upper right) Damase stands for the soloist and audience

Submissions

If you are performing or know of any future performances, broadcasts or recordings of works by Jean-Michel Damase, please feel free to submit the information for inclusion here.

Your input and information are welcomed and encouraged. 

Acknowledgements

Bernard A.M. DREYER, Correspondent in France for Chez DAMASE. 
Much of the information from France has been provided by M. DREYER and for that I am most grateful.

Sincere thanks to the following people for their contribution and assistance:

United Music Publishers
Daniel Emerson
F Fumelli
D Story

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