Vivier, Claude (1948–1983) By Bazin, Paul
Claude Vivier is perhaps the best known of all Quebec composers, both in Canada and abroad. In 1967, after being removed from the religious establishment where he was preparing to become a priest, Vivier registered at the Montreal Conservatory of Music where he studied until 1970. He first attended composer Gilles Tremblay’s classes at the conservatory, and studied piano with Irving Heller there before traveling to Europe. A number of scholarships that Vivier received from the Canadian Arts Council (CAC) brought him to Utrect (1971–72) where he studied electroacoustic composition at the Instituut voor sonologie with composer Gottfried Michael Kœnig, and also to Cologne where he became a student of Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Claude Vivier is the author of a catalogue bearing many traces of an intense journey of self-discovery. An opera, Kopernikus (1979) and three orchestral art songs (Lonely Child, 1980; Wo bist du Licht, 1981; Bouchara, 1981) are among his most affecting works. His major work for strings, Zipangu (1980), leaves an impression as lasting as his Pulau Dewata (1977) succeeds in invoking atmospheres typical of the Balinese gamelan sound world. Vivier was murdered in Paris in 1983, leaving behind a supposedly symbolic, unfinished work titled Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele? [Do you believe in the immortality of soul?].