Serge Garant was born in Québec City in 1929. Between 1946 and 1950, he studied piano with Sylvio Lacharité and Yvonne Hubert, harmony with Paul Robidoux and composition with Claude Champagne. Later, in Paris, he audited Olivier Messiaen’s famed analysis courses. He also worked on counterpoint with Andrée Vaurabourg-Honegger, and came into contact with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. In 1954 Garant organized Montréal’s first contemporary music concert, in which he participated with François Morel and Gilles Tremblay. He was the first Canadian composer to introduce taped material into a musical composition (Nucléogame, 1955), and undertook his first essay in aleatoricism shortly thereafter (Pièces pour quatuor à cordes, 1959). Garant was one of the founders of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), the oldest organization of its kind in the country, which he directed from its establishment in 1966 until 1986.
In his capacities as a professor at the Université de Montréal’s faculty of music (1967-86), and as the host of Radio-Canada’s “Musique de notre siècle,” Garant worked unceasingly to advance contemporary music. Among his most important works are Phrases II, Offrande II, Cage d’oiseau and …chant d’amours, which won him the Jules Léger Prize. His death in 1986 prompted the following tribute from Pierre Boulez, who wrote, “In Serge Garant I remember a companion of the early days, a man who devoted himself completely to the cause of contemporary music. He was not content to decide and to choose for himself alone. Once he had made up his own mind, based on his reflections and his view of common interests, he wanted to have others share those views. He correctly considered these as best adapted to our times, as highly conducive to the discovery of new landscapes for music, new landscapes that music will always need.”