August 5, Birthday of Betsy Jolas (b. 1928)

Born in Paris between WWI and WWII, Betsy Jolas grew up in an enviable milieu. Her mother was a well-known translator and her father founded the literary magazine, “transition,” which published James Joyce’ Finnegan’s Wake as a “Work in Progress.” Her studies at the Paris Conservatory were interrupted by WWII and she and her family decamped to the US, where she completed her studies at Bennington. After the War, in 1946, her family returned to Paris, where Jolas continued her studies at the conservatoire with Darius Milhaud, Simone Plé-Caussade and Olivier Messiaen. She replaced Olivier Messiaen at the conservatory and has been on the faculty there since 1975. She has won many prizes and is both a Chevalier in the French Légion d’Honneurand and is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Points d’aube


String Quartet No. 3



D’un opéra de voyage (1967)


Quatuor II for soprano, violin, viola & cello


Enfantillages


POINTS D`OR concerto for saxophone(s) & 15 instruments

August 5, birthday of Betsy Jolas

What a charmed life. Betsy Jolas is a French composer, whose parents were translators. Her father founded a literary magazine that published James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake,” and she grew with visitors to her house like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Her son is a Jazz trumpeter Antoine Illouz.  Jolas studied with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and eventually replaced Messiaen at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique of Paris where she was made faculty in 1975.

Points d’aube for viola and ensemble (1973)

Music to Go for viola & cello (1995)

A to Z: J is for Betsy Jolas

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 It’s day 10 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).

Today’s composer is Betsy Jolas (b.1926 ).


Jolas grew up in a very literary family. Her father had a literary magazine called “Transitions,” which among other new works, published “Finnegan’s Wake.” The young Jolas grew up with visits to her house by Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and other Lost Generation writer.

Jolas: Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio (1997)

After studying in the US, she returned to France and studied with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen, though later she became much more influenced by Stockhausen, Boulez and the Avant Garde in music.


Today’s piece reminds me of the work of Webern and Schoenberg. Jolas was a professor and taught in France as well as at Yale, Harvard and Tanglewood.

The composer’s Wikipedia page Betsy Jolas

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