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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, while harmonically complex; rhythmically surprising; 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

"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

NEWS & UPDATES
Significant changes and additions have been made to the Catalogue of Works. Revision overseen and approved by M. Damase

RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS

Jean-Michel Damase: Music for Flute, Harp & Strings [ASV 898]
Gramophone Magazine 
Critic's Choice & Good CD Guide selection
Piano Music by Jean-Michel Damase (SOMM
BBC Music Magazine
«««««
Highest Rating
(all categories)

ON THIS PAGE
Recent Recordings
Future Performances & Events
Notable Event Coverage
Submissions
Acknowledgements

Recent Recordings

[Poésie] [Sonatine for Violin & Harp]
Ecoensemble Trio
Ecoensemble Trio
 
Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano
[Catalogue No]

Founded in 1991, the award-winning ensemble (Morena Mestieri, flute; Paola Fundarò, oboe; Anna Bellagamba, piano) 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
Nicholas Unwin
, piano
Introduction et Allegro
Thème et Variations
Sonate
Apparition
Huit Etudes
Sonatine
[Catalogue No]

The most important addition to Damase's recorded repertoire in over a decade. Nicholas Unwin has received universal praise for his brilliant performances of works previously unavailable on any format. 

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

For those unfamiliar with the music of Damase, the recording serves as an excellent introduction. Covering works from many periods in the composer's career, it also presents a wonderful variety of compositional forms that showcase his unique voice.

Any Damase devotee should not hesitate to add this important recording to their library. 

Please support the gifted composer, the incredibly talented performer and brave record label, Somm Recordings, and purchase this CD.

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.
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.
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

bulletNo information available

 

Notable 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. The production coincided with a retrospective on the work of the opera's librettist, Louis Ducreux. 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 by Le Monde & Les Echos
bullet
Concert - 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
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

 

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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