RENE MAILLARD (b 1931 )
Born on 8 April 1931 in Bois-Colombes, on the outskirts of Paris, René Maillard received his secondary schooling at the Collège Gay-Lussac in Limoges during the Second World War. He went on to become a student of Arthur Hoérée (1897–1986), professor of composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique and friend of Albert Roussel and Arthur Honegger, whom he described as a ‘brilliant character’. He also attended the Versailles Conservatoire, where he benefited from the teaching of Aimé Steck (winner of the Prix de Rome in 1922) in his composition class, before entering the Paris Conservatoire. There, he studied harmony, counterpoint and fugue with Samuel-Rousseau and Noël Gallon, obtaining first prize in each before enrolling in Tony Aubin’s composition class. In 1955 he competed for the Prix de Rome with Le rire de Gargantua, a lyric scene on a libretto by Randal Lemoine based on Rabelais, which was awarded the ‘Second Grand Prix’. The work was performed on 28 June 1955 by the Orchestra of the Opéra-Comique under the direction of Jean Fournet, with soloists René Bianco, Louis Rialland and Jacqueline Cauchard.
In 1957, René Maillard joined EMI France as artistic director. For three years he was, in a sense, the ‘façonnier’ or ‘shaper’ (to use his term) of great artists such as Samson François, Paul Tortelier or even Villa-Lobos. But this type of work hardly corresponded to his aspirations; in addition, the job did not pay well and left him not a moment’s respite for composing. Greatly vexed and increasingly running up against an institutional system which discouraged young composers from performing, René Maillard resigned from EMI, gave up any thought of a musical career and resolved to pursue his professional life in a completely different field. He was recruited as a senior executive by an important American pharmaceutical laboratory (later absorbed by Laboratoires Roche) where, in particular, he ran the sales and training sectors. Shortly before abandoning music with regret, he nonetheless composed an orchestral work entitled Tre partite attaccate (later renamed Concerto da Camera No. 2).
Subsequently, after he had retired and settled on the Côte d’Azur where he gave himself over to his lifelong passions, golf and bridge, and after a hiatus of more than forty years René Maillard returned to composition at the beginning of the millennium, at the prompting of Nicolas Bacri. He died on 4 December 2012.
© Denis Havard de la Montagne
René Maillard’s Survivre apres Hiroshima (Surviving after Hiroshima) in the Mainichi newspaper