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Chez DAMASE
The Unofficial Website of Jean-Michel Damase




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"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

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

 

 


On this page

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Recordings

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Future Performances & Events

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Notable Performance & Event Coverage

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Submissions

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Acknowledgements

Recordings

bulletThe 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.
 
bulletPiano Music by Jean-Michel Damase, performed by Nicholas Unwin has been released on Somm Recordings, the programme 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

Any devotee of Damase should make this album a part of their music library. There is much to be learned in these works and Mr Unwin's superb performances display a complete understanding of them.

As the Library of Congress does not have record of any prior recordings, it is likely that most are world premieres.

Quite simply, 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.

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Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano has been released Boston Records by Amy Porter, flute, Nancy-Ambrose King, oboe and Phillip Bush, piano. The only known prior commercial release of this work was made in 1966 by Jean-Pierre Rampal, flute, and Pierre Pierlot, oboe, with the composer at piano.

bulletThe 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

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
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 by 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. 



bullet 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 Damase's Concertino for Piano & String Orchestra


Parrot-Hanlet acknowledges the composer (seated in box on the upper right)


Damase stands for the soloist and audience

bulletVancouver, B.C. Canada 
12 April 2003, 8:00PM
St. Mark's Anglican Church 
Variations "Early Morning" 
Lorna McGhee, flute; Heidi Krutzen, harp 
Ms McGhee is the former principal flute of the BBC Symphony; Ms Krutzen is principal harp of the Vancouver Opera.
Recital will be recorded for future broadcast on CBC Radio.
bulletTrieste, Italy
19 March 2003, 9:00PM
Conservatorio di Musica di Trieste, Sala Tartini, via Ghega 12, Trieste, Italy
Trio for Flute, Oboe & Piano
Ecoensemble Trio (Morena Mestieri, flute; Paola Fundarò, oboe; Anna Bellagamba, piano)
bulletNew York, New York, USA 
16 February 2003, 3:00PM
New York Philharmonic Chamber Music Series, Merkin Concert Hall at Abraham Goodman House, 129 West 67th Street
Dix-sept Variations for Wind Quintet
Members of the New York Philharmonic perform this work as well as the Fauré's Piano Quartet in g, Op 45, Schubert's String Trio in B-flat, D. 471 and Beethoven's Octet in E-flat, Op 103
bulletAnn Arbor, Michigan, USA
4 December 2002, 8:00 PM
University of Michigan, Britton Recital Hall
Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano
Amy Porter, flute; Nancy-Ambrose King, oboe; Phillip Bush, piano
Performers include faculty members of the University of Michigan who have also recorded this work for Boston Records.
bulletCuliacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
29 November 2002
Museo de Arte de Mazatlan
Berceuse for Horn & Piano
Jason Wright, horn; Aigul Kulova, piano
Mr Wright is principal horn of the Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes.
bulletPinnacle Brass (Resident Brass Quintet at the University of Central Arkansas) commissioned and premiered a new brass quintet by Damase, For Five
The American premiere was given 13 November 2002 at the UCA Snow Fine Arts Center Recital Hall and the European premiere (also given by Pinnacle Brass) during their tour of Paris on 26 November 2002 at the Woodwind & Brasswind Music Store, with the composer in attendance. 


Pinnacle Brass with Jean-Michel Damase
bulletMoorhead, Minnesota, USA
8 September 2002 - Rourke Art Museum (CD Release Performance)
Moorhead, Minnesota, USA
4 October 2002 - Concordia College Faculty Recital 
Vermillion, South Dakota, USA
18 October 2002 - Shrine to Music Museum, University of South Dakota
Quatre Facettes for Flute & Guitar
The Harris-Coates Duo (Debora Harris, flute and Mike Coates, guitar)
bulletBrighton, UK
21 May 2002 - Brighton Festival
Sonate en concert for Flute, Piano & Cello (ad libitum)
The Hilser Trio (Rachel Smith, flute; Rachel Firmager cello; Yoko Ono, piano)
bulletLondon, UK
24 May 2002 - St. John's Smith Square
Sonate en concert for Flute, Piano & Cello
Wissam Boustany, flute; Nigel Clayton, piano

Submissions

bulletIf 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

bulletBernard 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.
bulletSincere thanks to the following people for their contribution and assistance:

United Music Publishers
Daniel Emerson
F Fumelli
D Story


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