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Hector Gratton

Hector Gratton was born in the city of Hull, Quebec, on August 13, 1900. Among his music teachers were Alphonse Martin and Alfred Laliberté for piano. For harmony, his professors were Oscar O'Brien, Alfred Whitehead and Albertine Morin-Labrecque.

During the 1920s, Hector Gratton became attracted to folk songs which he had heard in O'Brien's settings. Charles Marchand, founder of the vocal quartet "Le Carillon Canadien", called upon Gratton both as an accompanist and as an arranger for numerous performances, most notably during the Canadian Pacific Festivals.

Gratton made an important contribution to music at the CBC, especially during the difficult years of the Depression. He worked for the series of broadcasts called "Je me souviens" together with among others, Félix Leclerc who wrote scripts for the program. Thanks to his involvement both as a composer and a conductor for the music, he was largely responsible for the radio programme's success.

In 1937, with a work entitled Légende, he won the Prix Jean-Lallemand at the Second Composers' Competition held by the Orchestre des Concerts Symphoniques de Montréal. The work was first presented on March 19, then again on April 23 of that year, conducted by Wilfrid Pelletier, then performed the following year by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sir Ernest MacMillan.

In his musical works, one of Gratton's preoccupations was never to betray his basic compositional materials, essentially popular and folkloristic elements, involving therefore a suppleness within the harmony and a simple and refined instrumentation all of which contributed to the charming impact of his production.

The majority of his manuscripts have been deposited in the National Library of Canada. He died in Montreal on July 16, 1970.


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Canadian Music Centre