Betsy Jolas

b. 1926



Betsy Jolas, born in Paris in 1926, settled in the USA. in 1940, where she studied composition with Paul Boepple, piano with Helen Schnabel and organ with Carl Weinrich. After graduating from Bennington College, she returned to Paris in 1946 to continue her studies with Darius Milhaud, Simone Plé-Caussade and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. She has won many awards, including those of the Copley Foundation of Chicago, the American Academy of Arts and the Koussevitsky Foundation, becoming a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. Jolas was appointed to the faculty of the Paris Conservatory in 1975, and has also taught at several American universities including Yale, Berkeley, USC, San Diego and Mills College. Her works, written for a great variety of combinations, have been premiered notably by the Domaine Musical, at the festivals of Tanglewood and Royan and have been widely performed throughout the world by such artistes as Mady Mesplé, Claude Helfer, Elisabeth Chojnacka, Pierre-Yves Artaud, and by leading ensembles (Ensemble Intercontemporain, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, London Sinfonietta, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, etc.). Her works have been recorded by EMI, Erato, CRI, Adès among others and have received various important awards.
Critical Acclaim
I’m simply thrilled to have discovered a wonderful composer that I didn’t know about. When you start talking to her she talks about when Varèse came to dinner, and when she sung the Verdi Requiem conducted by Toscanini, and it’s like a walking encyclopaedia, but the music is simply wonderful. I’m thrilled in the middle of Poulenc, Ravel and Rameau to introduce a really astonishing lady.— Sir Simon Rattle,



25th February 2023

BBC Philharmonic
Ludovic Morlot
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom


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