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Jean-Michel Damase

1928 - 2013

The son of the harpist Micheline Kahn had already been taught the piano of Marcel Samuel-Rousseau from the age of five. He began composing at the age of nine. Colette, a friend of his mother who had heard songs from him, wrote three poes d'animaux especially for him. At the age of twelve, Damase became a student of Alfred Cortot at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, the following year he entered the piano class of Armand Fertés at the Conservatoire de Paris and won first prize in piano in 1943.

From 1945 he studied composition with Henri Busser at the Conservatoire and counterpoint with Marcel Dupré. In 1947 he won the first prize in composition at the Conservatoire and with the cantata Et la Belle se réveilla the Prix de Rome.

At the same time, Damase started a successful career as a pianist. He has performed as a soloist at the Concerts Colonne and the Concerts du Conservatoire and with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion et Télévision Francoise. He recorded numerous works by Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel and was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for his recordings. After worldwide performances as a concert pianist, he later turned to composition and teaching. He taught at the Ecole Normal de Musique in Paris and gave master classes in Europe, the USA and Japan and was awarded the Grand Prix Musical de la SACD (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques) and the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris.

Daace's extensive compositional work includes operas, ballets and film scores, chamber music, instrumental concerts, pieces for solo instruments and vocal music.

Jean-Michel Damase died on 21 April 2013 at the age of 85. He rests in the cemetery of Valmondois(Val-d'Oise).