Jolas, Betsy

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Jolas, Betsy

Jolas, Betsy, distinguished French-American composer and teacher; b. Paris, Aug. 5, 1926. She was the daughter of the poet and journalist Eugène Jolas, the founder and editor of the literary journal transition, and of the journalist Maria Jolas, who also sang. In 1940 she was taken to the U.S. by her family and received training in composition from Paul Boepple, in piano from Helen Schnabel, and in organ from Carl Weinrich. Upon her graduation from Bennington (Vt.) Coll. (B.A., 1946), she returned to Paris and completed her studies with Milhaud, Simone Plé-Caussade, and Messiaen at the Cons. She then worked for the ORTF until 1971, when she took over Messiaen’s class at the Cons., being subsequently appointed prof, of analysis in 1975 and prof, of composition in 1978. Jolas received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (1973), a Koussev-itzky Foundation Grant (1974), the Grand Prix National de la Musique (1974), the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris (1981), the Grand Prix de la SACEM (1982), the Maurice Ravel Prix International (1992), and the Prix SACEM (1994). In 1983 she was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 1985 a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, in 1995 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1997 a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Jolas’s literary heritage is reflected in her use of the voice as the central element in much of her creative output. Her works reflect a masterful command of melody, harmony, timbre, and form.


dramatic:La Pavillon au bord de la rivière, chamber opera after Kuan Han Chin (Avignon, July 25, 1975); Schliemann, opera (1982-83; Lyons, May 3, 1995); Le Cyclope, chamber opera after Euripides (Avignon, July 27, 1986). ORCH.: Quatre Plages for Strings (1967); D’un opéra de voyage for Chamber Orch. (Royan, April 1967); Musique d’Hiver for Organ and Small Orch. (1971); Trois Rencontres for String Trio and Orch. (1973; Strasbourg, June 1974); Tales of a Summer Sea (Tanglewood, Aug. 1977); 11 Lieder for Trumpet and Chamber Orch. (Paris, Oct. 1977); Stances for Piano and Orch. (Radio France, Paris, April 1978); Cinq Pièces pour Boulogne for Small Orch. (1982; Boulogne, June 7, 1983); Préludes-Fanfares-Interludes-Sonneries for Wind and Percussion Orch. (1983; Paris, Jan. 28, 1984); Frauenleben, 9 Lieder for Viola and Orch. (1992; Paris, April 2, 1993); Lumor, 7 Lieder spirituels for Saxophone and Orch. (Paris, Nov. 28, 1996); Quatre Psaumes d’Heinrich Schütz (1996); Petite Symphonie Concertante for Violin and Orch. (Besançon, March 27, 1997). CHAMBER: Episode 1 for Flute (1964), 2: Ohne worte for Flute (1977), 3 for Trumpet (1982), 4 for Tenor Saxophone (Budapest, Dec. 1983), 5 for Cello (1983; Paris, Jan. 17, 1984), 6 for Viola (1984; Nice, Feb. 1985), 7 for Electric Guitar (1984), 8 for Double Bass (1984; Nice, Feb. 1985), and 9: Forte magnum coloratum for Clarinet (1990); Figures for 9 Instruments (1956-65; Evreux, March 20, 1984); J.D.E.for 14 Instruments (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Feb. 1966); Points d’Aube for Viola and 13 Winds (Havre, Dec. 1968); Etats for Violin and 6 Percussion (Persépolis, Sept. 1969); Lassus Ricercare for 10 Instruments (1970; Paris, Feb. 1971); Remember for Viola or English Horn and Cello (Royan, April 1971); How Now for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass (1973; Paris, June 1974); Quatuor III, 9études for String Quartet (1973; Washington, D.C., Jan. 1974), IV: Menus propos for String Quartet (1973; Paris, June 1990), V for String Quartet (1994; Paris, Feb. 16, 1995), and VI: Avec clarinette for Clarinet and String Trio (Radio France, Paris, Nov. 22, 1997); Well Met for 12 Instruments (1973; Paris, May 1976); O Wall for Wind Quintet (N.Y., Nov. 5, 1976); Quatre duos for Viola and Piano (1979; Radio France, Paris, April 1980); D’un opéra de poupée en sept musiques for 11 Players (1982); Points d’Or for Saxophone and 15 Instruments (1982; Paris, Feb. 14, 1983); Quatre Pièces en marge for Cello and Piano (1983); Trois duos for Tuba and Piano (1983; Lugano, March 23, 1984); Music for Joan for Vibraphone and Piano (Buffalo, Sept. 18, 1988); Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1988; N.Y., June 26, 1989); Petites musiques de cheve for Bass Clarinet and Piano (1989); E.A. for Trumpet and Vibraphone (1990; Paris, March 19, 1991); Les heures, trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1990; Paris, May 14, 1991); Études aperçues for Vibraphone and 5 Bells (Paris, Dec. 9, 1992); Musique pour Delphine for Violin and Cello (Paris, Dec. 9, 1992); Musique pour Xavier for Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, and Violin (Paris, June 25, 1993); Quoth the Raven for Clarinet and Piano (1993; Chambéry, Jan. 7, 1994); Music for Here for Bassoon, Viola, and Cello (Norfolk, Va., Aug. 6, 1994); Music to Go for Viola and Cello (Paris, Feb. 5, 1995); Petite sonnerie de juin for Horn, Trumpet, and Trombone (1997); Sonate à 8 for 8 Cellos (1998); Trio sopra “et sola facta” for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1998; Washington, D.C., March 28, 1999). keyboard: p i a n o:Chanson d’Approche (1972; London, Jan. 1973); Sonata (1973; N.Y., Jan. 1974); 3 Études campanaires (1980; also for Carillon); Pièce pour St. Germain (1981); Petite suite sérieuse pour concert de famille (1983); Signets, hommage à Maurice Ravel (Montpellier, July 19, 1987);Pièce pour (1997). organ:Musique de jour (Royan, March 1976). VOCAL: Pluparts du temps I for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1949) and II for Tenor, Tenor Saxophone, and Cello (1989; Zagreb, Nov. 1990); Chansons pour Paule for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1951); Enfantillages for Women’s Chorus (1954); 5 Poèmes de Jacques Dupin for Soprano and Piano (1959); L’Oeil égaré, radiophonie cantata for Soloists, Chorus, and Chamber Orch. (1961); Dans la chaleur vacante, radiophonie cantata for Soloists, Chorus, and Chamber Orch. (1963); Mots for Soprano, Mezzosoprano, Contralto, Tenor, Bass, and 7 Players (1963; Geneva, March 1964); Quatuor II for Soprano, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1964; Paris, March 1966); Motet II for Chorus and Small Orch. (1965; Angers, Oct. 1986) and III: Hunc igitur terrorem for Soloists, Chorus, and Baroque Orch. (Luxembourg, Dec. 12, 1999); Diurnes for Chorus (1970; Aix-en-Provence, July 1979); Sonate à 12 for 3 Sopranos, 3 Altos, 3 Tenors, and 3 Basses (1970; Royan, April 1971); Caprice à une voix for Voice (La Rochelle, July 1975); Caprice à deux voix for Soprano and Countertenor or Contralto (1978; Radio France, Paris, March 1979); Liring Ballade for Baritone and Orch. (Metz., Nov. 20, 1980); Perriault le déluné, comédie-madrigal for Chorus (1993; Paris, April 25, 1997); Sigrancia-Ballade for Baritone and Orch. (1995; London, May 21, 1996); Für Celia affettuoso for Chorus (Paris, Oct. 30, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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