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Lionel Daunais: Biography

Lionel Daunais
1902 - 1982
Region: Québec

Lionel Daunais

Lionel Daunais, baritone and composer, was born in Montréal in 1901. He studied voice with Céline Marier and harmony with Oscar O'Brien and later won first prize in the Montréal Song Festival. In June 1926, he was awarded the Prix d'Europe which allowed him to continue his studies in Paris. There his parallel careers as singer and composer began. He studied counterpoint with a student of Darius Milhaud and stage production with Emile Marcellin of the Opéra-Comique. The conductor Désiré Inghelbrecht heard him at an audition and he made his debut as first baritone at the Opera in Algiers where he sang all the leading roles in the best-known French opéras-comiques.

On his return to Canada in 1930, he made his debut with the Société d'Opérette of Montréal in Mireille and in La Basoche by André Messager. Daunais participated in a number of radio broadcasts as a singer and producer. In 1932, he joined forces with Anna Malenfant, Ludovic Huot and Allan McIver (piano) to found the Trio Lyrique. Daunais wrote almost 100 light, humourous songs for this group. In 1936, along with Charles Goulet, he founded the Variétés lyriques and participated in its activities as a baritone and director.

When the Variétés lyriques closed in 1955 because of growing competition from television, it had a total of 14,096 subscribers. During this period, Daunais sang in 10 operas, 63 operettas, one review and 27 revivals, a total of 8l3 performances, in addition to his considerable production work. Toward the end of 1959, he received a Canada Council grant that enabled him to finish a collection of songs for children. In 1961-62 he performed in a series of 250 radio programmes for the CBC with the Trio lyrique. In 1970-71, the CBC broadcast a series of 13 radio programmes devoted entirely to his vocal compositions.

Daunais wrote the lyrics and composed the music for some 100 songs for voice and piano and 18 songs for choir. He also harmonized about 40 folk songs and composed some 30 children's songs. He died in Montréal on July 18, 1982.

Encyclopédie de la musique au Canada, sous la direction de Helmut Kallman, Gilles Potvin, Kenneth Winters, Montréal, Éditions Fides, 1983, pp. 260-261



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