Musicologist Yves Gérard died of cancer on Tuesday, October 6, at the age of 88, in a Paris hospital. Leading personality, specialist of Luigi Boccherini, of which he produced the scientific catalog of works, but also of Camille Saint-Saëns, to whom he devoted a good part of his research, Yves Gérard taught history for more than twenty years. music at the Paris Conservatory with a double quality of mind and heart which marked all its students. Most have in turn become musicologists or educators while some have opted for the press, written or radio. Significant proof of its exceptional influence, two directors of the National Conservatory of Music and Dance of Paris (CNSMDP) at the beginning of the XXIe century have passed in his classroom.
Yves Gérard was born on January 6, 1932 in Châlons-sur-Marne (today Châlons-en-Champagne, Marne). His musical training (piano practice) then university (mainly in philosophy) takes place in Nancy. In Paris, he continued to study the piano, in private, with Yves Nat and entered the Conservatory in the history of music classes, of Norbert Dufourcq, where he obtained his prize in 1956, and of musical aesthetics, of Roland-Manuel, where he was crowned in 1958 for his work on Erik Satie.
“The need to go back to the sources”, a principle that Yves Gérard made the alpha and omega of research
He then made a decisive encounter in the person of Germaine de Rothschild (1884-1975), whom he assisted in many fields, including the production of Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805). Started in a fairly discreet manner with participation in 1962 in the biographical work (Plon) dedicated by the lady to the Italian composer, Yves Gérard’s contribution to the knowledge of the Italian counterpart of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) becomes essential , in 1969, with the publication (Oxford University Press, with the patronage of Germaine de Rothschild) of the catalog of his works. Yves Gérard was then a researcher at the CNRS. He abandoned this post, ten years later, to succeed Norbert Dufourcq, in 1975, as professor of music history at the Paris Conservatory.
Workaholic, passionate about transmission, he often crosses the Atlantic to teach or give lectures in North American universities (Quebec, United States). Invested in numerous editorial committees in France, Yves Gérard was president of the French Society of Musicology between 1980 and 1983. His contribution was quickly felt at the Conservatory where, considering that a single professor could not master all eras, he is assisted by Bernard Gagnepain, for early music, then Alain Poirier, for the music of the twentiethe century. In office from 1982 to 1989, before exercising an important activity of musicologist (in particular in connection with the school of Vienna) then to direct the CNSMDP (from 2000 to 2009), the latter confides today to have “Been marked by the need to go back to the sources”, principle that Yves Gérard made the alpha and omega of research. “Put on your caving helmet and explore the documents”, he has heard himself said more than once.
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