Virtuoso accordionist and composer Philippe Bruneau passed away on Sunday, August 7, 2011 in Forcalquier (France). He had been suffering from cancer. The funeral will take place Thursday on August 11 in Forcalquier, France.
Philippe Bruneau was born in Montreal on September 22, 1934. Bruneau started learning accordion at 15 and joined a folk music ensemble at the Trinidad Ballroom in Montreal at 19. Initially, he played a three-row button accordion, but he later switched to the single-row button accordion.
Bruneau was music director of the Danseurs du St-Laurent from 1968 through 1975. In the 1970s he recorded several albums dedicated to Quebec folk music and also the music of American accordionist John Kimmel, including Philippe Bruneau (Philo FI2003, 1973) and Danses pour veillées canadiennes (Philo FI-2006, 1974).
During the 1980s,Bruneau performed with Montreal-based American pianist Dorothy Hogan. The duo composed new pieces as well as arrangements of traditional Quebec folk music.
In 1991 Bruneau emigrated to France. The government of Quebec awarded him the Prix Gérard-Morisette in 2000. Bruneau refused to accept the prize because he believed that the Quebec government did very little to preserve traditional music.
His composition ‘Hommage aux musiciens traditionnels’ is popular amongst Quebec folk musicians.