Death of oboist Maurice Bourgue

The oboist Maurice Bourgue died on October 6 in Avignon, at the age of 83

Death of oboist Maurice Bourgue

The oboist Maurice Bourgue died on October 6 in Avignon, at the age of 83. An undisputed reference on his instrument, just like the Swiss Heinz Holliger, six months his senior, he was known for his intransigence and his taste for provocation which, for example, pushed him to question the existence of a " French school" of oboe, while at the Paris Conservatory he had trained some important representatives.

Maurice Bourgue was born on November 6, 1939 in Avignon. Considering that the clarinet that he plays as an amateur earned him preferential treatment during the war during his detention in a prison camp in Germany, the father of young Maurice wishes to provide his son with a similar asset facing a future uncertain and made him take music theory lessons at age 7 and then asked him, at age 9, to choose an instrument.

The child comes across, by chance, a piece of oboe on the radio and declares himself sensitive to its “solar radiation”. He began studying it with a teacher who quickly gave him the means to play alongside his father in local orchestras which occasionally accompanied Camargue dancers. Invited, at the age of 13, to participate in the performance of Jean-Sébastien Bach's Magnificat, Maurice Bourgue received his first musical shock and considered a professional career.

Basel and Paris Orchestras

He made his debut at the Avignon Festival, then decided to “go up” to Paris. Admitted in 1956 to the Conservatory in the class of Pierre Bajeux, a teacher he did not hold in high esteem, the ambitious Avignonnais worked in parallel with an oboist of lesser renown whom his father met in Germany and ended up obtaining a Premier Oboe prize in 1958, then the same distinction the following year in chamber music. Then came the time for military service, which he carried out in Algiers. This assignment allows him to play regularly in the local radio orchestra.

Seventeen months later, Maurice Bourgue returned to Paris, earned his living as a member of the CRS Music of Vaucresson (Haut-de-Seine) then thought of becoming a concert performer and, to achieve this, entered the music industry. international competitions. That of Geneva, won by Heinz Holliger in 1959, only earned him a Second Prize in 1963. Married to the pianist Colette Kling in 1964, he joined the Basel Orchestra, which he left in 1965. Solo English horn of the Société des concerts du Conservatoire, on his return to France, he was part, in 1967, of Charles Münch's recasting of this ancestral phalanx under the identity of an Orchester de Paris of which he occupied the position of principal oboe until in 1979.

He was then appointed professor of chamber music at the Conservatory. Logically, if we consider that, since 1972, the date of the founding of the wind octet that bears his name, Maurice Bourgue has enjoyed exploring scores for small numbers, such as the Petite Symphonie, by Charles Gounod . Adept at a breathing technique inspired by that of singers, the renowned soloist will attempt to pass it on to the students of the oboe class at the Paris Conservatory, which was entrusted to him in 1986, then, between 1992 and 2011, to those of the Geneva Conservatory.

Beneficiary of an important discography, Maurice Bourgue declared, in 2019, on France Musique, that a recording was comparable to a photo. “It’s you at a certain time, in a certain situation and it’s not you. » Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) had made the painful observation half a century earlier when, against his will, Maurice Bourgue had recorded his 1947 Sonata, “pages written too quickly” in which the composer said he could not find himself. . However, Dutilleux did not hold any resentment towards him since he allowed him to participate, in 1991, in the creation of his diptych Les Citations and especially, in 2010, in that of the definitive version of the work, the last score completed by the composer.