Happy Birthday Betsy Jolas

Happy Birthday Betsy Jolas
© Jean Radel
2016 marks the ninetieth birthday of Betsy Jolas, one of the leading French-American composers. Jolas was born in Paris in 1926, and is the daughter of translator Maria Jolas and poet and journalist Eugène Jolas.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Jolas has received awards from the Chicago Coupley Foundation, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Grand Prix National de la Musique, and Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris. Whilst she was an active composer in the effervescent world of the post-war vanguard generation, she remained an independent figure, resisting the influence of the serialism that lead a whole generation of composers. Jolas' music is marked by a vocal and declamatory style. This is particularly apparent in works such as D’un opera de voyage (opera without voice). She has often paid tribute to her favourite composers which include Lassus, Monteverdi, Debussy, all of whom are honoured in Tales of a Summer Sea.

On June 16 the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, will premiere her A Little Summer Suite. The orchestra will also feature Jolas in a programme of chamber music including her Episode sixième and Ruht wohl. Her Well Met Suite will be premiered next season in Saint-Cézaire, followed by the Pays de Savoie Orchestra performance in Evian. The Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo and the Société pour la Gestion des Droits d’Auteur commissioned Jolas to write Histoires Vraies, a double concerto for trumpet and piano to celebrate her ninetieth birthday. The world premiere took place in April given by Håkan Hardenberger, Roger Muraro and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kazuki Yamada.


Territory premieres are available for a number of works by Betsy JolasFor more information please contact us

Selected works

B Day for Symphony Orchestra (2006)

Stances (1978) for piano and orchestra

L’Ascension du Mont Ventoux (2004) for soprano, narrator, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and harp
'My Motet IV, now entitled The Ascent of Mount Ventoux has thus become a rich spectacle to hear, to see and to understand.'

Tales of a Summer Sea for Orchestra (1977)
'The descriptive title of this work, which clearly designates the source of my inspiration, should make further comments unnecessary. I only hope it will help listeners of my music to recall their own recollections of a rather stormy sea.'

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