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Bédard, Hubert (François)locked

  • Howard Schott
  •  and Kenneth Gilbert

(b Ottawa, Dec 28, 1933; d Brignoles, France, June 16, 1989). Canadian harpsichord maker and harpsichordist. After classical studies he entered the Conservatoire de Musique in Montreal (1956), where he studied organ with Bernard Lagacé and harpsichord with Kenneth Gilbert. In 1959–60 at the Vienna Music Academy he studied harpsichord with Eta Harich-Schneider and had private lessons with Isolde Ahlgrimm (1959–60); he also studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Gustav Leonhardt (1960–61). After resuming his career as organist in Montreal, he served as musician-in-residence at the Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, Ontario (1962–3), and then entered the workshop of Frank Hubbard in Waltham, Massachusetts, to learn the craft of instrument making. In 1968 he moved to Paris as chief restorer in the Conservatoire workshop then being established under Frank Hubbard's direction. At the same time Bédard set up his own workshop with a small staff where he undertook restorations for other collections and produced harpsichords modelled on historical prototypes.

During the following 20 years over 40 early keyboard instruments were restored under his direction, both for private collectors and for a number of museums, including the Vleeshuis (Antwerp), the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Lyons), the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Chartres), the Horniman Museum (London) and the Musée de la musique (Paris). Bédard's approach to restoration was both conservative and intuitive. He held that any intervention on historical instruments should be reversible, in case new elements were one day to come to light; at the same time he believed that the instruments should be both played and heard. During his years in Paris he taught a number of younger makers who subsequently established their own workshops. He also developed several harpsichord kits which are marketed by the Heugel-Leduc publishing firm in Paris.

Bédard made a recording (1964) of Froberger and Louis Couperin on the 1646 harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers held in the Vleeshuis, and prepared editions of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie and Les Fêtes d'Hébé for a perfomance on Radio-Canada Television (1964). He also published French translations (with Félia Bastet) of Frank Hubbard's Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making (Cambridge, MA, 1965; Fr. trans., 1981), and of Andreas Streicher’s Kurze Bemerkungen über das Spielen, Stimmen und Erhalten der Forte-piano (Vienna, 1801/R; Fr. trans., 1982).

Writings

  • ‘Report on the Restoration of the Virginal by J. Couchet, 1650’, Restauratieproblemen van Antwerpse Klavecimbels [Antwerp 1970] (Antwerp, 1971), 41–3
  • ‘Harpsichord of 1644 by Andreas Ruckers: on Putting it in Playing Condition’, Ruckers klavecimbels en copieën [Antwerp 1977], ed. J. Lambrechts-Douillez (Antwerp, 1978), 109–18