Pierre Béique 1910-2003

1978 Cultural Cultural

After classical studies at Sainte-Marie and Jean-de-Brébeuf colleges in Montréal and courses in commerce at McGill University, he joined the Montreal Company Vinant Ltd. He devoted part of his free time to the new SCSM, serving as assistant treasurer, then as honorary treasurer.

In 1939 he was appointed administrator and in that capacity directed the destinies of the SCSM (MSO) until his retirement in 1970. As special adviser to the president of the MSO 1970-75, musical adviser to the managing director in 1977, special assistant to the artistic director 1978-80, special adviser to the artistic director 1981-87, and general director emeritus as of 1987, Béique stands as the prime architect of the MSO as we know it today, and it is to him that the Montreal public owes the early visits of conductors of the calibre of Walter, Klemperer, Munch, Szell, Markevitch, and Monteux, and the later ones of Bernstein, Leinsdorf, Abbado, Ozawa, and Mehta, whom Montrealers were able to meet at the same time as were US and European centres.

Concurrently with the early years of the orchestra, Béique's private enterprise, Les Concerts Pierre Béique (1940-45), presented in Montréal a large number of world-famous artists, among them Horowitz, Anderson, Serkin, Casadesus, and Melchior. In November 1978, Béique was named the Great Montrealer of the last 20 years in the field of music by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. His prognosis on the future of the MSO was contained in the chapter “Allegro ma non troppo” that he wrote for Montréal: la prochaine décennie (Montréal 1980). In 1979 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada, of which he became an officer in 1990. In 1989 he was named vice-president of the Opéra de Montréal Guild.
In his book titled Ils ont été la musique du siècle (2001), he recounts both his own memoirs and the history of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He was named to the Panthéon canadien de l'art lyrique in 2001. In 1998, the Fonds Pierre Béique was established to ensure the long-term viability of the MSO.

Source: L’Encyclopédie canadienne