Gilles Lefebvre


Gilles Lefebvre 1922-2001

1997 Cultural Cultural

Gilles Lefebvre was born in Montréal in 1922. He began studying violin at the École supérieure d'Outremont (École Vincent-d'Indy) while pursuing classical studies at Collège Sainte-Marie and then at the University of Ottawa. After being part of the RCAF as a musician from 1942 to 1945, he went to France in 1946, studied at the École normale de musique de Paris (1946-47) and stayed there until 1950, taking special courses with noted masters such as René Benedetti and Norbert Dufourck.

During the 1948-49 season, he performed some 50 recitals in Canada with pianist Colombe Pelletier and was struck by young people’s interest in music and by the shortage of concerts in remote areas.

Working with a group that shared his ideals, he founded Hélicon (1949), an association that would become the Jeunesses musicales du Canada. Supported by the Fédération internationale des jeunesses musicales, Jeunesses musicales du Canada would see remarkable growth, first in Québec and then in the other Canadian provinces. He headed up Jeunesses musicales du Canada from 1942 to 1972.

With modest grants and his remarkable talent as a cultural facilitator, he would found the JMC Music Camp in 1951, which became the JMC Orford Arts Centre in 1967, a nerve centre of Canadian culture. Mr. Lefebvre oversaw the creation of many activities in the Jeunesses musicales movement, including the Journal musical canadien, the Jeunesses Musicale national competition and Jeunesses Musicale World Orchestra. He became an Officer of the Order of Canada when it was created in 1967. He also received accolades from around the world.

Mr. Lefebvre was associate artistic director for Expo 67, director of the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris (1972-78) and director general of international cultural relations at the Department of External Affairs (1979-83). He was also associate director of the Canada Council for the Arts in March 1983.

Musician, teacher, humanist and cultural facilitator, Gilles Lefebvre devoted his life to promoting the arts, seeking out new talent and developing the career of Canadian artists at home and abroad.

Source: Ordre national du Québec

Photo Credit : Archives Jeunesses Musicales du Canada