A landmark study of Claude Vivier by Bob Gilmore has been published, exploring the composer who created some of the most distinctive works of the 1970s and '80s.
The final book by the late Bob Gilmore, Claude Vivier: A Composer’s Life, breaks new ground as the first in-depth study of the composer (University of Rochester Press 978-1-58046-485-7). With unrestricted access to Vivier’s archives, the author drew upon interviews with the Canadian-born composer’s family, friends and colleagues to build a picture of a complex soul, while revealing the personal quest for self-discovery woven through his works.
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Growing up in a Montreal orphanage, Vivier gave up ambitions to join the priesthood, instead studying composition with Tremblay and Stockhausen. Forging an unlikely alliance between Modernism and a lyrically infused expressivity, he created a sequence of highly distinctive works including Lonely Child, Bouchara and the opera Kopernikus. Art and life became increasingly intertwined as he sought to combine Eastern mysticism with earthly passion, leading up to his violent death in Paris in 1983, aged 34.
"It is only now, with the publication of Bob Gilmore’s new biography, that we have a real chance to put Vivier’s work in its proper contexts… an intense life and an indelibly magical oeuvre. This is music though that was born in a dark crucible. Vivier was an orphan and you could hear much of his music as a search for origins, for purity, almost as an escape from the world."
BBC Radio 3 Music Matters
"The music of the French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier has been in need of a champion since his untimely death in 1983... it's in Bob Gilmore's pioneering portrait - both a 'biography' and a 'critical study' that Vivier finds his most sympathetic and eloquent advocate... Gilmore fashions a revealing image of a composer whose worth has not yet been fully recognised and makes a persuasive case for further investigation. Vivier may yet turn out to be one of 20th-century music's best-kept secrets."
"A thorough, clear-sighted and humane biography of one of the most extraordinary composers of recent times… a deeply engaged and engaging portrait."
Times Literary Supplement
Ensemble Musikfabrik presented the world premiere of Vivier's Hiérophanie in 2010 and gives the first Canadian performance on 28 February in the composer's native city of Montreal, and the Croatian premiere at the Zagreb Music Biennale on 21 April. Simon Rattle conducts Vivier's Lonely Child with the Vienna Philharmonic and soprano Barbara Hannigan at the Vienna Konzerthaus on 28 May.
> Further information on Work: Lonely Child
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