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date: 20 August 2019

Jolas, Betsylocked

  • Jeremy Thurlow


(b Paris, Aug 5, 1926). French composer. She was brought up in an artistic and literary milieu, and remembers in her childhood visits from writers such as Joyce, Stein and Hemingway, who were all published in the literary journal Transition that her parents founded and edited (1937–47). After the family moved from Paris to New York in 1940 she studied at the Lycée Français and then at Bennington College (1945–6), where in addition to her formal lessons she gained a thorough acquaintance with the 16th-century polyphonists, especially Lassus, through singing and playing with the Dessoff choir. Returning to France in 1948, she married Gabriel Illouz the following year; they had three children. Meanwhile Jolas continued her studies at the Paris Conservatoire, where her teachers included Messiaen and Milhaud. She first heard Webern's Fünf Stücke op.10 in the early 1950s, a discovery which struck her like ‘a lightning bolt’, and soon, despite Milhaud's misgivings, she was getting to know the music of avant-garde contemporaries such as Boulez and Stockhausen....

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Schweizerische Musikzeitung/Revue musicale suisse